A Frenzy of Sharks

I once held a burning desire to spend a year in Melbourne to immerse myself in the culture of football and sport in the self-proclaimed sporting capital of the world. After following the events of the past month via television, print and radio, I no longer harbour such a dream. The unadulterated self-absorption of the AFL media has got so out of hand that I could not fathom the thought of having to listen to so few, having so many opinions on issues they know little about or have the right to comment on.


The usual suspects have been hurling buckets of chum in to the water at every opportunity and this morning all the sharks went into a frenzy after Mick Malthouse was interviewed on SEN and effectively announced he was sacked and saw no point in waiting another two weeks. Certainly if the President or CEO were listening, then Mick will get his wish this morning. This comes after the mystic who is Mark Robinson sagely announcing last evening that one of three things would occur in the coming weeks. Mick would get the bullet this week (after he was supposed to get it on Saturday or Sunday or was it yesterday Mark), Mick would get the bullet after the Adelaide game or Mick would coach out the end of the year and get the bullet.  In the same breath, Robbo comes out and says that Malthouse deserves respect as the competition’s all-time coaching record holder. All while pouring kero around the bonfire that he and Mark Stevens have slavishly built. No wonder Robbo is the AFL’s number one footy journalist with that type of detective work.


Predictably, the Herald Sun website has gone to town with a flurry of lead stories that read mostly like all the stories previously done on the issue. I think the little paper has had them in the vault for weeks waiting for the final curtain to fall on one M Malthouse. They read a bit like an obituary that has been sitting idle for ages waiting for its’ subject to tip off the perch. There are now “rolling updates”. This has certainly put 9/11 in perspective boys. Kouta is reported as saying this is worse than the cap crisis. Actually Anthony, I think the cap crisis may have been the catalyst for the Mick crisis and the Dennis and the Ratts crisis that preceded it. The Age says Mick “took a swing at the board”. I’d say Mick took his biggest swing the day he signed the contract and this morning was the words of a man who has lost his tenure at the Club and in football. For those living in outer space, the Age also offer this footnote to Mick’s pending sacking. “Malthouse recently broke Jock McHale’s record for the most VFL/AFL games coached. He has coached West Coast, the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood. His contract with Carlton expires at the end of the 2015 season.” I suppose that would be the respect thing that Robbo is on about.


Club “luminary”, Mark McClure, has been amongst it as Robbo’s able assistant in stirring up the burly by offering his well-considered thoughts to anyone stupid enough to listen to him. I’m sorry Mark. You may well have played in three premierships during the strongest period in the Club’s history however please do not over estimate your importance in that success or your ongoing legacy with the Club. You were an ordinary centre half forward in a great side and your opinion on what the Club has to do does not hold much water with the rank and file believe me.


I’m seeing a theme here with all these Marks.


Listening to SEN, rather than RSN, in recent weeks has shone a fascinating light on the various media experts who traverse its’ airwaves. I quite like the morning show with Andy Maher and Tim Watson (Gaze adds nothing) presenting far more favourably than their respective television efforts. In fairness, both are probably stifled by the likes of Taylor, Dennis and Bruce who are the “marquee” presenters on free to air with Andy and Tim reduced to bit players. On radio, the pair, particularly Watson, are kind of refreshing and devoid of much other supposed “inside knowledge” shovelled from props such as Frawley, Robinson and Dunstan on Fox. The interview with Mick this morning was the golden egg that the others have been baying for over the last month and the most candid interview given by Malthouse or a coach that I can recall.


The “structures” of the Melbourne medical circus are appalling. The same guys pop up on each others shows and blow smoke up each other bums on the premise of presenting information that your average punter could never have dreamed of over a beer on a Saturday arvo. It‘s self-aggrandising at best and rampant egotistical nonsense at worse. The “football industry” is in fact the media industry. Having been a good player or watching and talking a lot about football makes you neither particularly knowledgeable nor insightful. As listening to the average punter having a beer on a Saturday usually demonstrates as they regurgitate like parrots the conspiracy theories and opinions of the esteemed panel of football talking heads that have filled the ether during the week.


It can however make you a complete and utterly boring twit. Take a bow Dermie. At least Watson has the humility to comment on his own short comings when asked about the one thing he regrets ever saying. “Yes, I want to coach the St Kilda football club” was his reply. Barry Hall and Jonathon Brown were fantastic, tough footballers. They are appalling commentators who seem to have a gig on every known footy programs in the universe. Why? What do they offer that isn’t there for everyone who doesn’t have a Seeing Eye dog cannot observe for themselves? Nothing that is obvious, just as David King’s analysis is plain bewildering.


They have created their own culture of self-importance and incest feeding off each other while determining whether people swim or drown in their comments. Comments that are mostly speculative but deemed to be of such importance that a thought bubble then becomes the lead story in the following news segment and presented as some kind of breaking story. “Reports are being circulated that Joe Bloggs with move to Geelong on the three year deal”. The report was “circulated” five minute ago by one of your station’s presenters as a piece of speculative gibberish you nongs.  And on it flows through every other program during the day like a giant game of Chinese footy whispers. I will be down in Melbourne to watch few games in July and look forward to doing so. I will just turn off everything in an attempt to give me the best chance for that enjoyment to occur. However, the lengthier stay is on hold for a while.


Oh Look, Mick’s been sacked! Who would have picked that coming other than Robbo? At least now we can get back to the Essendon saga.

About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. I love a good spray TR. I find one of the joys of being in Perth is that I can avoid the footy meedja. We don’t have an SEN equivalent, and I avoid the 3AW equivalent 6PR at all costs. There is no MMM. I choose not to have Foxtel and use the AFL IPad app for games not telecast live if I think they are good value. $15 a month and I get to watch Sydney-Hawthorn instead of the Purple Scum on delay on #7.
    Get all my footy wisdom from discerning Almanackers (plus the Age IPAD app – though I avoid campaigning Caro) and ABC radio.
    Wonder if Robbo will do a Spike Milligan and call his bio – “Mick Malthouse – My Part in his Downfall”?

  2. Bravo Tony. What a pathetic debacle. I can’t wait for Caro tonight on 3AW who’ll come across all knowledgeable and wise, like she’s holding something back from the plebs in the public.

    The media is so debased, so completely discredited, so inane that the echoes that all media members are hearing, are their words bouncing off the walls of the collective rectum that currently houses all their heads.

  3. Yvette Wroby says

    Lovely work Tony, Peter and I loved your last sentence Dips. To me it’s like watching a poorly written soap opera. I heard Mick this morning and could have predicted the rest along with everyone.

    I must confess I am an SEN listener. I think I’m addicted to the swill.


  4. Joe Moore says

    Hear, hear Tony!

  5. Tony,
    It’s true the media are intrusive and ingenious.
    But there are leaks everywhere in footy, just like politics.
    Journalists feed off those leaks, which usually come from club officials or players.
    There are a lot of stories the journalists get right, based on those leaks.
    Then there are the stories that are so obvious I don’t even bother reading them.
    This year I haven’t watched one AFL talk show.
    Don’t have time. Can’t be bothered.
    Footy creates the drama. Journalists and ex-players are paid to dramatise the drama.
    Footy is a huge industry. It demands media attention.
    When Malthouse gets sacked, that’s news.
    So journalists go to town. It goes with the territory.
    I listened to the SEN interview. One of the best I’ve ever heard.
    That’s why Tim Watson and Andy Maher are paid to talk footy.

  6. Tony Tea says

    I love it when one commentator says the bleedin’ obvious and his co-commentator compliments him on making a great point.

  7. Great point TT.

  8. Tony Robb says

    PB I think the Melbourne media needs someone like George Grljusich to bring a bit of balance in to football commentary lol
    Dips “their words bouncing off the walls of the collective rectum that currently houses all their heads” is possibly to greatest sledges in modern history.
    Yvette I’m liking the morning show but the rest is trying particularly when Bartlett and Patrick Smith take to the air.
    Agree IronMike re leaks. Apparently there was some in the Carlton office yesterday tweeting update by he minute about what was happening inside. Malthouse’s sacking was news but was it that surprising given what had proceeded it in the past two weeks particularly on Friday. Yesterday coverage was as if this had just come out of the blue. The interview was the news, not the sacking
    Yes Tony. The smoke blowing is appalling. It is as if the the majority of AFL commentators have pact to inflate each other worth to keep their jobs. It is becoming like an version of the Channel Nine cricket commentary team on steroids
    Cheers TR

  9. Dave Brown says

    Well said Tony! The hermetic bubble that the AFL and its media occupy is becoming increasingly tiresome and its contents self-devouring. Of course we are, ourselves, to blame. Someone feels the need to watch a talk show on footy (or three) every single night of the week and tune their radio dial to ex-footy players talking about footy all day. And someone is buying the newspapers full of footy ‘content’. Actually, scratch that, nobody is buying newspapers…

  10. Peter Fuller says

    I’m probably high up the scale of football obsession, and because of my club allegiance, I have a stake in the topic de jour. I’ve watched on with a mix of emotions – sadness and disbelief most in evidence – as the Blues have managed to hit rock bottom, and then keep drilling further.

    However, I’ve progressively weaned myself off the media preoccupation with the game – and especially with its politics. For other reasons, I’ve broken a fifty year habit of daily reading of the Age, and I only occasionally see the H-S in coffee shops. Because of my hearing problems, it is many years since I’ve listened to spoken word radio programs, so avoiding the blatherings on SEN and other radio discussions of football doings and undoings. I certainly don’t feel that I’m missing much. I am thus protected from the kinds of frustrations that others in this thread have expressed.
    I didn’t follow the “ball by ball” discussion yesterday of what might be, what’s gonna be, and what happened. As there was no urgent need for an adjustment to any aspect of my life, time enough to learn of what transpired, some hours after it occurred. I’m in several minds about the whole disaster (confused, which is an appropriate stance for an umpire to bring to the topic), and I didn’t contribute to the Board v Mick thread, as Sean Curtain summarised my feelings precisely.
    As a senior citizen, I offer advice freely without any expectation that it will be valued. However, my recommendation accords with Peter B’s: avoid most of the hot air ravings of the radio and television commentators, read newspaper football information circumspectly, and bring your own observation to most of what you see, hear and read.

  11. Matt Zurbo says


  12. Tony Robb says

    Dave do we need a Peter Finch alah Howard Beale to the recsue?
    Peter I’m off to by some ear plugs. Thanks for the tip and your excellent comments

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