Crio’s Q: Sports Stars in the Media

Sport, of course, is simply a grading phase en route to the ultimate fame game – the media.

Warnie, mostly unencumbered now by actually playing anything other than cards, can spread his wisdom across both our dailies, with TV, radio, twitter and other outlets all breathless for a grab.

Tim Watson (newsreader, breakfast radio host and boundary rider), tongue in cheek, fears a new Aker!

Retired sportsmen have long provided fodder for the masses. Some have been great…others grate!

Let’s recall their contributions to our sporting Halls of Fame and Shame.


  1. Crio Mark Taylor would be first picked in the Shame section. A dud behind the microphone and a flop as the spruiker for Fujitsu !

  2. Crio, Tim should be looking out for Aker. When he was giving comment from the side last season he told the viewers that Aker was coming from the ground for medical attention and that he “hadn’t had a touch”. When Aker returned from the rooms 5 minutes later Tim sagely informed us the Aker “still hasn’t had a touch”. Unless getting a rub down counts as a “touch” it was pretty apparent that Jason wouldn’t have bothered the stats guy while in the sheds.

    It probably goes without saying but the Nine commentary team with, very few exceptions, are shockers. I know Kerry gave the World Series boys a job for life but surely that could have been in the canteen. Their recent foray into golf set a new benchmark for ineptitude.

    Kerry O’Keefe on the other hand manages to lift the banality of the ABC. Average spinner of a ball, great spinner of a yarn.

  3. Richard Jones says

    I AGREE, TR.

    Kezza O’K very handy behind the mike even if he does laugh a lot at his own jokes. The ongoing guffawing then cuts into what’s actually happened while the next 2 or 3 deliveries have been bowled.

    Gary Lyon a pretty astute hand both on the keyboard for The Rage and behind the mike on Footy Classified. Can’t comment on The Footy Show as refuse to watch that puerile rubbish.

    Jonathan Agnew one of my favourite ball-by-ball commentators when the Ashes crikky comes on — either here or in the Old Dart.
    On the ABC radio, of course.
    Agnew much better as a commentator IMHO than as a medium paced trundler.

    Dwayne Russell was also a fine caller of AFL action early doors, but then seemed to get all immersed in his own importance. Was mightily miffed at an after-the-game nosh in an Etihad superbopx one night when my wife had no idea who he was.
    She’s into the art scene and has no recognition skills whatsoever of ex-players turned commentators. Very funny to watch, actually.

  4. Glen Jakovich. Clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed, the king of butchering cliches and mispronouncing names.

    Kerry O’Keefe has one of those laughs that sets everyone else in a room off laughing at his laugh!

  5. John Butler says

    Michael Slater’s tireless Aussie cheer leading and tendency to endless, meaningless babble make him pretty hard going.

    He’s obviously learnt nothing of Ritchie’s gift for understatement.

  6. Andrew Fithall says

    Mike Whitney “made” Gladiators.

  7. On Cricket, it has to be Bill Lawry by a mile. A pipey, Victorian parochialist who’s wound up like a thousand day clock is always going to give you good value, especially when English ex-public school boys enter the commentary box. “I don’t know what they did at your school Ian Botham, I went to Preston Tech.”

    Taylor – shit, Slater – shit, Healy – shit, Warne – ok.

    I know Walls is a grumpy prick, but that’s why you listen. He never holds back from sinking the slipper in, like some player educating boxing-glove.

  8. Stephen Cooke says

    Russell wrote some great pieces for The Age when he was starting out.

    David Schwarz – don’t get me started, I’m filling with rage as we speak!

  9. I’ll declare my bias up-front. I barrack for Hawthorn. Now, I know he can be a little too technical in a look at me I’m pretty clever kind of way, but I reckon Dermie is an asset to the game, in print (assuming he writes his own stuff) or in the commentary box (I just wish he wasn’t with Channel Nine). Jason Dunstall is another. Danny Frawley is not. And Robert Walls is one of the few old-timers still around worth listening to.

  10. I don’t mind Dermie. Schwarz, I’ve never heard anyone revel in their own stupidity like the Ox. A crap commentator, only matched by Tim Watson for getting it wrong so often.

  11. Footy….
    David Schwarz: all hindsight, and very little foresight. Was terrible when he started, now he is just plain bad.
    Dwayne Russell: cries out “That’s as good as it gets!” at least once per quarter.
    Tim Watson: that scarf summed it all up, really.
    Drew Morphett: seems like a lovely fella, but the game (“why don’t they kick it long?”) has absolutely passed him by.
    Glenn Jakovich: is actually preferable to the ramblings of Jon Dorovich!
    I am convinced that one of the major reasons for cricket’s decline in popularity is Channel 9’s refusal to make any significant changes to its commentary team. And it may be heresy, but Richie is symptomatic of all this. The younger generation must wonder “Who are these people?”

  12. Also, listening to Tim Watson on SEN is like listening to a drawn out Liberal Party ad.

    The man is awful and boring to boot.

  13. Richard Jones says

    SMOKIE: Drewsel Morph. is now well into his 60s so ur point about his use-by date is valid.

    But as I’m of the same vintage don’t want to see my calling career (local footy these days, had 3 years of AFL commentary in the early Noughties) brought to a closer just yet.

    Don’t know why u bother with the sound on Ch. 9. Turn it down, no — off. ABC commentary is “as good as it gets” sound-wise.

    Nobody’s mentioned Tim Lane so far. I reckon he is top class, even tho’ he called Geelong’s dynasty over a trifle prematurely, late in 2010 when the Doggies got in front early one game, late season.

    Now I know the Catters are in a slight decline (about 4th in 2011 for mine) but dynasty-over against the Doggies ??
    You’d have to have walked under a hundred ladders and kicked 17 black moggies to have Footscray end your dynasty. Any dynasty!!

  14. Drew and Tim, though, are not of the ex-player school. Some of Drew’s vintage can be fun…anyone in coloured boots “better get a kick” and he has a boyish enthusiasm for his job – much like “Smokey”.

    Jack and Lou were trailblazers and too many have since been poor imitations. Even the awful pieces in the Sun and in the Truth (Dyer ‘ere)were at least original and supported their TV profiles.

    Parko and Schwabby are good for special comments and are just themselves…loved the team when Tim and Gerard did the call and they were “colour”.
    I actually quite like Mark Maclure but find Stan Alves’ platitudes grating and boring.

  15. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Good: Love listening to Dermie. He has a great grasp of today’s game while still making interesting references to past battles which don’t sound trite or overly anecdotal. Dermie is usually spot on about football psychology. He know the game within the game better than anyone.

    Bad:Terry Wallace and that whine. If I have to listen to it again next year I’ll spew up!

    Ugly: The ABC’s decision to hire Gary Dempsey as special comments man for one round in 1987. Felt sorry for Gary, but really,Auntie should have known better

  16. I quite liked Jarad Molloy and Danny Southern when they each had turn on ABC radio before going on to other things. I agree with Crio on Parko and Scwabby and (despite his Carlton prejudices) Mark Maclure.

    However TV commentary by past future coaches can help you explain why they were successful or unsuccessful as coaches. Premiership winning coaches like Blight and Matthews do present useful insights as special commentators. Wooden spoon winning coaches Tony Shaw and Tim Watson are respectively dumb and over opinionated (Shaw) and boring and banal (Watson). I am encouraged by how insightful and wise Nathan Buckley’s comments were. He should make a great coach!

  17. That should have been past AND future coaches

  18. dave latham says

    I thought that too about Bucks Dave. An intensely driven man and a delighfully insightful coconut. Oak like strength with willow like flexibility.

    Walls isn’t super insightful – throw x foundering tall forward into ruck X 100 – but he does provide some pithy character assesments. Didn’t look to thrilled in the commentary box in the dying moments of the 2nd GF this year either just quietly.

  19. David Downer says

    Concur with most of the general sentiments.
    T.Watson and T.Shaw, for blokes who’ve been doing this for years, are so very ordinary. The latter has a particular habit of beginning every response with “no doubt”. Shawey lives in a world of unrealised certainty.  Watson generally drops the more extended version of “no doubt about that”.
    How Theo X Schwarz holds down a job in this caper, on two mediums no less, is beyond me. It defies logic. Surely there’s better options.
    Dwayne Russell screams every inch of arrogance and self-importance.
    Going back a few years, Mick McGuane wasn’t overly comfortable on camera, ditto Silvagni, he never offered much …but the ladies would agree he certainly had Mick covered in the visual aesthetics.
    Nathan Buckley was outstanding. Tom Harley was a great addition in his place this year. James Hird was very good On The Couch – until the Essendon coaching palaver produced much squirming of seat.
    On to Summer …Warne has proved a revelation. I don’t mind Slats, but can understand him polarising the viewers. Someone please put A.W Greig and I.M. Chappell out to pasture.
    In the tennis Jim Courier has been very good.

  20. Michael Voss. A Special Comments guy with contributions that were anything but “special”.

    Perhaps an early insight into a not very special coach (?)

    That is all

  21. dave latham says

    “the ladies would agree (SOS) certainly had Mick covered in the visual aesthetics”

    This sir is an outrageous slander. I saw Mick next to John Elliot on ch 31 and he looked every inch the heart-throb.

    Just to show I’m not an absolute zealot, Michael Christian and Daicos were pretty dull as commentators. All I can say is thank god Andy Maher never played AFL football, or I would be submitting a 6,000 word offering. A truly irritating man.

  22. Mick Jeffrey says

    Thankfully I was either playing or being runner/water when the combination of Christian/Daicos/Silvagni were all in the one box (several years before ONE went to air).

    Interesting question, which is Luke Darcy better at, special comments at the Footy or Play-By-Play at the Netball?

    As for other sports, the only reason why a few watch the V8 coverage on 7 is to hear pit reporter (and 1999 Bathurst Pole Sitter) Mark Larkham enter into sarcastic discussion with 6 time Bathurst Winner Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton who has driven and commentated on it for 25+ years (leave Matt White out of this, stick to current affairs). Then there’s Phil Gould’s whinging and moaning on the RL telecasts for 9.

  23. dave latham says

    Voss and Darcy were / are Robert Walls’ echo chambers.

  24. John Butler says

    DL, Christian is still an active commentator, if that isn’t abusing the adjective. Freudian wish that it were other?

    Andy Maher is a lovely bloke to talk to, but the curse of sycophancy infects his commentating worse each year.

    DD, can’t have Slater. No way. No how. Loved watching him bat in his prime. Shame he didn’t become a mime afterwards.

    Akermanis should take up needlepoint, or something constructive, now that he’s through alienating team mates.

  25. dave latham says

    I must be mowing the lawn or getting cheap meat trays at the Preston market when Michael Christian is commentating. Thought they sent him to the ghetto of the 5th quarter.

    I thoroughly object to listening to Darren Berry or Wayne Schwass, who are both cosmically repellant. Darren Berry must have a fistful of compromising photos to still be commentating.

  26. John Butler says

    On a brighter note, Roebuck (ex Somerset) will usually say what he thinks without fear or favour.

    Agnew shines on Test Match Special.

    I reckon Dermie set new trends for special comments analysis. Sadly, as time goes on he seems overly conscious of this fact. Maybe a professional trap.

  27. Roebuck is good as a point of difference but he gets tiresome on his hobby-horses.Very Don Chipp.
    I can’t cop Brendon Julian on FOX. Their domestic coverage is generally good- I was certainly not a Mark Waugh fan but his commentary is enjoyable.Flem good but might fade with exposure.
    The Pom cricket coverage is great on TV or radio. Gower good, Nasser OK, Athers vg, David LLoiyd excellent…I love Boyccs with the right foil. Botham I can do without.
    On radio, Aggers is simply outstanding. I liked chappelli on his brief radio stint.

  28. Clearsighted says

    Dennis Commetti writes songs about himself. Tim Lane is a patronising, middle of the road drone who suits similar types. Luke Darcy pretends to be a nice guy but is a tool and a sycophant of Eddie. Tim Watson comes across as a nasty little sneak – probably because he is. Leigh Matthews still misses the days when he could snot smaller players when they weren’t looking (not picking on your own size makes you ‘Lethal” apparently). Robert Walls loves ‘big, strong men’. The self obsessed dills featured on “Before the Game’ should be avoided.
    Dwayne Russell is poetic in print – not so on air.
    Kevin Bartlett is quick and witty.
    Tom Harley is honest. The comments of Bucks and Voss were usually fair and interesting – before they got into coaching, of course.

  29. Interesting comments on those recently retired. I reckon Tom Harley will be around for a while, he’s good. FIGJAM knows his stuff and you can’t help but appreciate that when listening to his pithy insights. I actually missed him a bit this year. Fortunately for the black and white (and not the rest of us), he’ll probably make a good coach. Going back to the old-timers, special mention goes to Lethal Leigh, who I don’t think anyone’s mentioned. A talent both on and off the field, and behind the mike too.

  30. Gary Lineker is a former star who easily made the transition to TV.

  31. Always been intrigued how bad commentators (eg Schwarz, SANDY ROBERTS) survive in media. Do the media operators run focus tests and find that somehow they have general appeal when to us wise observers they have none? Or do they think that if ratings are ok, then the staff must be ok also?

  32. Richard Jones says

    THE rise and rise of citizen journalism, so evident here in the Knackery, is not such a good thing.

    For clearsighted and Mark et al, strap yourselves into a commentary box one afternoon — even if just on a practice run — and see how many names you actually get correct when calling a slice of the action.
    Run the tape back later and consider how tongue-tied you got and ponder on just exactly how many players you actually called accurately.

    Tim Lane seldom calls a player by the wrong name. Granted he’s been doing it a long time (ditto track and field at the O. and C’wealth Games) and granted he sounds off on his pet hobby horse themes from time to time, but inaccurate he is NOT.

  33. It’s hard to get all the players right in this professional era, because they’re all bald, 6 ft and slim.

    You can’t just call out, Hodge kicks it to Fatty, knowing that everyone will understand you meant Stuey Dew.

    I can pick players by their gait 99/100.

    I think I qualify for commentating now.

  34. Dermie can be okay but sometimes he can come out with something so obviously incorrect it just simply beggers belief.

    Case in point; pre game, Cats v Freo, semi final. He attempts to explain away the not inconsiderable disadvantage that Freo held in that this was their first run on the MCG for the season by suggesting that Fremantle had actually requested NOT to play there in 2010 as they needed experience at the Dome. Naturally of course, this is completely and utterly the opposite of the truth.

    Tom Harley is good, but my favourite player turned pundit was actually Wayne Carey. Gerard Healy isn’t bad either. Watson can’t do Essendon games properly and Wallsy has a tendency to barrack when Carlton are playing.

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