AFL Round 21 – Geelong v St Kilda: Yelling at the telly

My wife doesn’t yell at the television. She’s from German aristocracy. I married way above my station.

I yell at it all the time. My Irish peasant ancestry probably has something to do with it. It’s hard wired into my soul. When Gronk O’Donnell left the cave in 6 million B.C. he would have been yelling at all the young Gronks to put down their new ridiculous piece of technology (later to be called “the wheel”) and give him a hand bludgeoning stray mammoths in preparation for dinner. When the O’Donnell kings of the middle ages stomped around inside their vast castles that were perched on the beautiful, windswept cliff tops around County Donegal they would have been yelling “more wine!” or “bring me a horse!” or  “what are those mongrel O’Neils up to?” or some such thing. When the rebellious O’Donnells stood shoulder to shoulder with their motley crew of angry farmers and publicans they would have yelled to the oppressive and marauding English army “you might take our land but you’ll never take our freedom!” (this happened a long time before Braveheart was filmed).  And when the migrant O’Donnells made their way to Australia (some of them in dubious circumstances) they would have stepped off the boat, untangled the chains and yelled “Jaysus, what’s that?” upon sighting the local kangaroo.

We’ve been yelling for millennia.

Indeed my father would have won a gold medal if television yelling was an Olympic sport. His finest performances were usually reserved for This Day Tonight with Bill Peach, and Four Corners (which he humourously referred to as “Core Fawners”) and, in recent years, Kerry O’Brien’s 7.30 Report. He’s a great mentor.

I love yelling at the football on the TV. There’s your typical “ball!” scream, the judgemental “you idiot!” assessment of any player’s less than brilliant skill execution, and the usual “what game are you watching?” query if the maggots pull a free kick from the netball rule book rather than the Aussie Rules one.

But last Friday night’s game between the Cats and Saints introduced a new category of yelling. At least in our house it’s new. It’s a yell that is not directed at anyone on the field, or anyone in the immediate vicinity of the field for that matter. And most importantly it is a yell that was first heard emanating from she-who-does-not-yell.

It was more of a plea than anything; an expression of complete exasperation. I felt her pain.

It happened late in the game. The scoreboard was tight. The Saints had whittled down a 35 point deficit to one, before the Cats kicked a quick reply to get the lead out to seven points. But it was still up for grabs. As I recollect, the ball was at a stoppage; a critical stoppage that could swing the result one way or the other. To this point my lovely wife might have muttered a subdued comment like “c’mon Cats” if bravery was required, or “just kick it!” if Johnno had possession. But that was all. She sat attentively but was not animated. She was involved but had no bubbling emotional need to bludgeon a mammoth like I had. Her tension does not manifest itself outwardly. I admire her control.

For some unknown reason, at this crucial juncture in the game, the pony-tailed producer sitting in his black jeans and skivvy in the channel seven studios decided to direct all the camera shots to the St Kilda bench. We saw players wiping their faces and scratching their legs, we saw Kosi rubbing his forehead with a puzzled look on his face, and we saw Scott Watters leaning forward in the coach’s box, headphones on, chewing vigorously on a jelly baby. We knew the game was continuing on but still the camera shot was of the coach in question. In fact the camera shot was so close we could clearly see whether or not he trimmed his nasal hair.

And we sat, and we sat, and we sat. Watters remained in the frame. The commentators tried to think up intelligent comments (unsuccessfully).

We could hear the game unfolding but saw none of it. I was about to burst. The urges of centuries of O’Donnell vocal explosions were overwhelming. I was about to erupt again; exasperated that channel Seven’s coverage has gone beyond the pale of ineptitude (again). But I was beaten to the punch. From the other end of the couch came a guttural roar,


She could handle it no more. My wife had succumbed to the dreaded TV yelling scourge.

Her royal ancestors might have once pronounced loudly “Off with his head” to the joyous squeals of the loyal subjects but they never yelled. It took Channel Seven to change all that.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. David Downer says

    Humorous Dips, well played.

    An advantage of being at the game is not relying on those blasted ill-informed media buffoons.

    Do you reckon Gronk O’Donnell would have been a fan of the early model T.Hawkins?


  2. It wasn’t even my team playing, Dips but I was yelling along with Mrs O’D. I really am quite astounded by Seven’s camera direction. So many close-ups that give you no feel for the context of the game, and irrelevant shots such as the one the pushed your wife over the edge.

    All these extra camera angles are great for reviewing or using alternative angles AFTER the event but not for live action. Whoever’s pushing the buttons appears to have little understanding of what makes a good viewing experience. For them it seems to be all about justifying the technology.

  3. Be grateful Basil Zempalis wasn’t commentating. On Saturday he remarked more than three times just how chuffed Jarrad Waite’s dad Vin must be watching the game. Clearly no one at Seven was in his ear that Vin died 9 years ago.

  4. Dips O'Donnell says

    Litza – about the same time Basil died.

  5. *golf clap*

  6. DBalassone says

    Gigs, I’ve been saying this about the camera angles for the past 2 or 3 years. A worm at the ground would have a better view of the game than the poor viewer at home. The worst is when the ball is kicked into the forward line and Ch 7 elects to go to the close-up. You have no idea what’s going: is the player with the ball about to get tackled? Is he facing the right direction? Is his kick for goal on target? etc. So frustrating. It’s like you’re watching a Ch 31 telecast of the local leagues. All Ch 7 has to do is keep the camera-angle side-on at such times, so the viewer has perspective.

    I think Rohan C wrote an article about this a few months back, but alas! nothing has changed. Maybe it’s time for J. Harms or G. Haigh to take up the fight re this? Fellas?

  7. Basso Divor says

    Much to the initial amusement (before it morphed into frustration) of my family; I’m guilty of the same crime Dips. ”Dad, they can’t hear you!” Yeah, I know – but it makes me feel better! My pet gripe is when the “pony-tailed producer” decides that the trajectory of the ball is the money shot, rather than the physical contest further up the ground where the ball is headed.

    While on the technology topic – when are they going to make microphones available to the scribes asking questions at the post-game Coach’s press conference?

  8. Dips O'Donnell says

    Basso – great point about the microphone for the scribes. I find myself guessing what the question was from the coach’s answer.

    We can put a robot on Mars but we can’t hear a question in the post game press conference.

  9. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Dips, half way through the last quarter of last year’s GF, the yelling became futile and I fantasized about having and Elvis and Robert Goulet moment. Yelling is much healthier.

  10. The Channel 7 directors’ habit of cutting in and out, showing ridiculous overhead shots, staying far too long with the behind-the-goal angle has, quite frankly, been a disgrace this season. It is truly infuriating. I defy any footy fan to not yell at the screen in frustration. I sure as hell do.

    When Basil yelled out “how about that one, Vinny?” after Jarrad Waite kicked an impressive goal from the boundary, I almost choked on my vegemite sandwich. And it seemed like no-one else in the commentary booth had the heart to tell him the news.

  11. Himmel “PUT THE CAMERA ON THE PLAY!!!” Schnell!

  12. Poor Basil

  13. I too cringed when Basil mentioned how proud Vin Waite would be but he did sort of apologise later saying he’d be watching from up there. I think Basil means well.
    I agree that shots of the bench and the coach’s box are too frequent, too long and irrelevant.

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