CENTRAL VICTORIAN SPORTS WRITERS AND COMMENTATORS

OVER a period of three decades I have worked with some interesting media people.

All of the ones listed here have reported on, or broadcast, Bendigo and district footy fixtures. They have then gone on to to ply their craft in Melbourne at AFL level.

In my early days at the Bendigo Advertiser it seemed the progression for young journalists went like this: Bendigo Addy, Albury Border Mail, Melbourne Herald-Sun.

A few didn’t like tabloid journalism typified by the Sun, so opted for a quality broadsheet such as The Melbourne Age.

Here’s a selection of the more memorable ones, all of them now based in Melbourne, with whom I’ve worked.

Anthony Hudson (3AW, Channel 7, Network Ten, SEN radio): Huddo was still a Year 11 student in Bendigo when he used to rock up on his bicycle for Saturday morning radio preview shows back in the 80s.

The weekend morning venue was the old Fire Station in View Street. He also cut his broadcasting teeth, so to speak, with calls of BFL matches while still a teenager.

All that must seem a distant memory to the accomplished Channel 10 match-day caller. These days he has Robert Walls, Luke Darcy, Michael Christian or the great Tim Lane alongside him.

After a stint with Ten’s news section, superkeen Geelong fan Huddo sat alongside Rex Hunt on 3AW’s AFL calls from 1996. The next move was to Channel 7 to join its front-line commentary team and also to assist in the coverage of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

It was back to Ten from 2001 along with hosting the League Teams segment on the Fox Footy Channel.

Paul Daffey (The Age, 774 ABC Melbourne): one of a handful of acknowledged experts on Victorian country footy, Daff has penned three books about the code in metropolitan amateur or regional competitions. Perhaps his best known tome is Beyond The Big Sticks: Country Football Around Australia.

He’s also a co-founder and a co-editor of The Footy Almanac website. This spun off from three years of the comprehensive compendium entitled The Footy Almanac: the AFL Season, One Game At A time. A team of writers from every walk of life scribes the book.

In Bendigo Daff played at Golden Square in 1990 and 1991, racking up what he terms “a handful of senior games but playing mainly in the Magoos”. He says he regarded himself as a senior footballer but didn’t get himself fit enough until well into the season and wasn’t favoured by the coaching and senior player regime.

He could have been a Sandhurst player, but says “no one particularly talked to me early in the piece so I left for the Square.” He recalls getting a walloping from Sandhurst’s Brendan Hartney in the 1990 senior qualifying final.

In his working life Daff was at the Bendigo Advertiser from November 1989 to May 1992, and from there went to the Herald-Sun as a sub-editor before heading to London and a life of freelance sub-editing and writing. He’s still doing just that. Along with arranging monthly Almanac footy lunches in Melbourne for the wide spectrum of people who pen match reports for the annual Almanac footy book.

Shane Healy (3AW, 6PR Perth): we used to exchange a lot of banter about the relative merits of Heals’ beloved Essendon and my Geelong Cats. And Shane always used to say broadcasting local footy on 3BO with the legendary Dick Turner was a tough assignment.

The difficulty for Healy was trying to get a word in as Dick not only “called the board” but just about every passage of play for the entire four quarters. This scenario unfolded regularly at Bendigo matches where Healy was officially designated as the ‘co-caller’.

He headed off to 3AW, where he’s now general manager, and a calling career with Rex Hunt from 1993. A few years as general manager at 6PR in Perth ensued before he returned to 3AW as the station boss.

Following a few years away from the microphone he’s now well and truly back in the booth calling Melbourne-based matches of the round.

Mark Robinson (Herald-Sun, Channel 7, SEN radio): not a lot of people will recall Robbo won the McDonald Medal as the BFL reserves fairest and best way back in 1987. Yep, he did.

He played a number of senior games for Sandhurst, too, during his days in Bendigo.

But his working days at the Addy have long gone down in local newspaper folklore. A real tearaway in his 20s, every now and then Robbo wasn’t much good on Sunday afternoon shifts in the office. Sunday afternoons were the time when we prepared lead stories, a stack of match reports from Saturday fixtures, picture layouts, scores and goalkickers. All this plus best players from matches not just in the BFL but the district leagues, as well, for Monday‘s editions.

Occasionally Robbo was nowhere to be found while this frantic activity was going on. No computers back then. Just typewriters and copy paper. However, if someone happened to stumble into the empty interview room there would be Robbo curled up, sound asleep, on the carpet under the desk.

A Sunday afternoon nap was needed after all the hectic activity of Saturday nights/early Sunday mornings!

He’s now a very accomplished performer with the electronic media, as well as a probing and incisive writer for the Herald-Sun.

Barry Denner (National Indigenous Radio Service, Triple M): went from standing on the roof of his car at Lockington to ensure maximum mobile coverage while he filed his BFL radio reports, to co-ordinating the NIRS’ extensive weekend calls of the AFL.

From just exclusive Brisbane games as the Lion’s dedicated radio carrier, the NIRS continued to use Barry and co-caller Ronnie Rogers (another Bendigo boy) as their top match day team.

And the coverage was expanded in the mid-90s from Brisbane games solely to a complete AFL service: Friday nights, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night games and Sunday matches, where rostered.

Interstate games were not neglected. A South Australian crew was established early on and Sydney Swans’ games were also covered.

Baz has also gone on to feature on Triple M calls as part of a new contract with the Melbourne station.

Comments

  1. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    And the Greatest of Them All – 3BO match day caller Dick “I’ll-call-the-board” Turner?
    Or didn’t you work with him?

  2. Richard Jones says:

    DID special comments with ol’ Dickie at a couple of inter-league games we were both at, Rocket.
    That was about my only radio work at a BFL ground with the “call the board” champ.

    In the mid-80s we did a Bendigo F.L. and district footy leagues Friday midday preview show at 3BO. Dick and I and a bloke named Robert Cook (later GM at Channel 8, now Southern Cross 10) sounded out our predictions on air for the coming weekend.

    But I did serve with Dick for a decade or so on the Bendigo Advertiser-Channel 8 Sports Star of the Year committee. We met every 4 weeks to pick the district Sports Star of the Month. Everything culminated in March with the telecast Sports Star of the Year ceremony.

    The late Ronnie Casey compered quite a few of those. We had special guests such as yachtsman Bertrand, Barass, Tommy Hafey [and much later Sharelle McMahon] and a no. of other luminaries as special guests over the years.

    You’d know of Sharelle’s background, Rocket. She comes from somewhere up near Bamawm, I fancy.

  3. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    Sharelle McMahon is of course a Rochy girl who lived out out of town near the hamlet of Bamawm.

    Her father, John, is probably the best natural sportsman ever produced in the district. A champion cricketer that led Rochester to A grade country week titles and played many times for Victorian Country against touring international cricket teams. He was full back in the Rochester team that went through the 1962 season unbeaten in the Bendigo Football League. Her mother, like her father, is also an outstanding golfer.

    I was lucky enough to have a close association with “Marno” when he was playing coach of our basketball team in the Kyabram association. Not only an outstanding sportsman, but a great bloke who gave a lot back to sport through coaching and encouraging juniors.

  4. Richard Jones says:

    I should have added this rider in #comment 2, Rocket.

    The article was about journos-broadcasters I’ve worked with within Bendigo footy who kicked on to Melbourne and worked on the AFL.

    That’s either penning yarns about it for the Big or Little papers, or calling the action on Melbourne radio stations and national TV networks.

    All 5 of these gents above fill the bill. Ol’ Dickie Turner remained mired in the BFL. Entirely!

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