Footy Language: Talking Clearly, Clearly Classified

How is it that the word ‘clearly’ has infiltrated the footy landscape?  Commentators, analysts, journalists and even coaches have especially taken to the adverb.  The use of the word in a sentence implies a sense of authority.  Once the word is inserted into a sentence, it seems that the assertion of the sentence is very rarely contested by fellow commentators.


In particular,  the word is showcased on Monday nights, when the experts gather to discuss the weekend’s results on shows such as Talking Footy and Footy Classified.


Of course King Clearly is none other than Wayne Carey who gets the show rolling at the 2:20 minute mark of Talking Footy when discussing Brad Scott’s exit:


“But clearly there was some other things going on behind the scenes.”


He follows this up at 2:51:


“I get the feeling that this wasn’t clearly meant to happen right now.”


Mick Warner catches the disease at 6:37:


“But it’s clearly not the way that they wanted Brad Scott to exit.”


But then the King reclaims the word at the 9 minute mark with two references when answering a question from Tim Watson about Brad Scott’s failure to attend a North Melbourne function for past greats:


“What I said prior, I clearly have upset….clearly if he didn’t go to that function that’s upset        some.”


He tops this off with a hat-trick of clearly reference at the 13 minute mark:


“I think clearly…I think clearly and just once again reading between the lines….but clearly          the Kangaroos want to go in one direction; Brad wanted to go in another direction.”


We then have to sit through commercials, news breaking segments and a Paddy McCartin interview, before the King has a chance to utter the word again (twice) at about the 31-minute mark.


Clearly there’s players who’ve gone out there and done a lot more damage after having them      (injections), clearly that wasn’t a great choice.  I think doctors are way better now.”


We’re probably being a bit harsh on the King.  Luke Darcy and Tom Browne are known to throw the word around as well to make their sentences sound more emphatic.  But if you want to have an orgy of the word from a variety of sources then Footy Classified is the show for you.  I’m determined to stay up and watch it tonight, purely for the purposes of this very tedious study i.e. examining the overuse of the word clearly.  For some reason the show isn’t scheduled until half past ten, by which time I can barely keep my eyes open.  To make matters worse the show doesn’t actually start until about quarter to eleven, thanks to the Aretha Franklin tribute.  But my patience is rewarded, as the embattled Chris Judd utters the word early on in the show re Daisy Thomas:


“Needless to say, drinking, full-stop, in public, two days before a game when you’re 1-9, fails       the stupidity test, clearly.”


Unfortunately some time over the next half hour or so, I’m out like a light and I miss the rest of this show, thus impacting the results of this crucial study.  But thank goodness for google – on Tuesday morning I dig a bit deeper.  I am absolutely sure that Caroline Wilson, Matthew Lloyd, Craig Hutchison, and sometime panellist Damian Barrett, are also heavily reliant on this word when making their irrefutable statements about football matters.  I am not disappointed:


Craig Hutchison re his Footy Show demise in 2017:

Clearly it’s a ratings game, there’s a scoreboard every day. Some people don’t like you, some       do.”


“So they are the things that if i had my time again – which I clearly won’t – that I would do             differently.”


Craig Hutchison re sacking of David Schwarz:


“I feel for him and he’s clearly been a highly popular person at the station for         a long time.”


Damian Barret re recent attack from Luke Beveridge


“It’s wrong, it’s unfortunate and it’s sad, I think, that Luke Beveridge needs to use Tom Boyd      moments to leverage the hatred that he has for me, clearly.”


Damian Barret re Barry Hall’s Triple M mishap:


Clearly the conversation about Erinn and [Leigh Montagna] got to a point where it needed             straightening up.”


Clearly I didn’t straighten it up successfully.”


If Wayne Carey is King Clearly, then the Queen is definitely Caroline Wilson.  I wonder if they discussed the importance of the word back in 2007 when they were both co-panellist of Footy Classified.  Caro has a great platform to exhibit the world on Footy Classified, 3AW, Offsiders and of course her column in The Age.


Caroline Wilson on her favourite person:


“James Hird is clearly not going to go back and coach Essendon.”


Caroline Wilson on Eddie McGuire’s slide comments:


“He was clearly very unhappy with the column. I think he feels that I burnt him,”


Caroline Wilson on the Adam Goodes documentary:


Clearly the AFL is hoping to develop a unified response to Goodes revisited.”


Caroline Wilson on a twilight grand final:


Clearly McLachlan likes the idea of the twilight or night-time start or he would never have         used the word “inevitable” in 2017.”


But of course, it’s not just journalists and ex-players who rely on the word.  There are three coaches in particular who employ the word regularly.  Sometimes I wonder if Ross Lyon was one of the innovators of the word back in the late noughties.


Ross Lyon on those harassment allegations:


Clearly it is a matter that has………been resolved and investigated… no sanction, and it was      resolved a long time ago.

“(It’s been) an incredibly challenging time. As challenging as anything I’ve experienced in my      life, clearly.”


Nathan Buckley on some of his players:


“Brayden [Sier] was clearly in our best mix towards the end of year and played some really          good footy with lower game time.”


“He [Moore] clearly would’ve been frustrated with the way last year went for him and the             disappointment of not being able to put his hand up at the pointy end.”


Chris Scott on losing the Elimination Final:


“They were clearly the better team in virtually all facets of the game.”


Chris Scott on re-signing:


“It’s a commitment to the path we’re on as a group and it’s clearly not just me, it’s our      coaching group as well.”



I’m sure there’s many others who use the word, but to my ears those listed above are the main offenders.  I think the lesson to be learnt here is obvious – if you can get this word into your vocabulary you will go places.


For more from Damian, CLICK HERE:


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About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. John Butler says

    Could ‘clearly’ become the new ‘moving forward’?

    Nice work DB.

  2. Rulebook says

    Well played,DB definitely gets a fair run also

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great work DB. Clearly, ‘clearly’ has obviously replaced ‘obviously’ as the got to word for the jock/journos of footy today. ‘Without question’ is another annoying term of vapid emphasis that keeps bobbing up.
    Clearly, you’re onto something here…

  4. Stainless says

    Sorry folks, but “clearly” has been the word of choice around government for decades, especially when it’s used to preface something expressed in impenetrable bureaucratese! Clearly, the footy media are just playing catch-up!

  5. I was going to say that clearly has obviously replaced obviously, but P. Dimitriadis beat me to it. The other Honourable Mention, in my view anyway, goes to the phrase “to be honest”. This always conjures up in my twisted mind the thought that every word uttered prior to these has been a lie. The fact that it was regularly used by the most dishonest bloke I ever worked with possibly aided and abetted this thought!

  6. DBalassone says

    Good points JB, Rulebook, Phil, Stainless and totally agree Bucko. I think clearly is much more emphatic than obviously. Interesting observation Stainless. This little political word has served journo, ex-players, coaches and CEOs well over the past few years, but we should be able to see through it now. A few other culprits are Mike Sheahan, Sam McClure and Tom Harley (who’s continued use of the word is cringeworthy to me). Here’s a few other quotes that didn’t quite make the cut above.

    Mike Sheahan on North:

    “I don’t know where they’re headed. It is clearly a wasted year now and it’s going to do some damage.”

    Tom Harley on Charlie Gardener:

    “Charlie is an outstanding person with strong values, which clearly align with our club values.”

    Tom Harley on the Gary Rohan trade:

    “Clearly Gary’s personal circumstances are well told and well known.”

    Sam McClure on ANZAC day umpiring:

    “It has clearly led to the relationship between the umpires and the AFL being fractured.”

  7. Absolutely (another overused word) Damian. There are many of them. My pet hate is when at a function eg a wedding, the MC asks for all to be UPSTANDING (horrible). I have noticed at the conclusion he doesn’t then invite all to be DOWNSITTING – thank goodness.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Spot on piece Damian. The (over) saturation of media coverage of the AFL plays a massive role in repeated word use. Many often used words annoy me. “Clearly” is one. “Quarterback” riles me the most.

  9. DBalassone says

    Agreed Fisho. ‘Absolutely’ is the word a lot of people, including myself, use when we are on auto pilot. James Brayshaw and Luke Darcy give it a good go to – though having said that, I must confess I love when Brayshaw and Darcy commentate together on Saturday nights. I rekcon they work together very well and know how to inject excitement.

    Fair point Luke re oversaturation. I think the key is to give AFL tv & radio shows a bit of a rest during the week. Save your footy fix for the weekend. I can’t imagine what it would be like having foxtel during the week.

  10. Well played, Damo. You are clearly on to something here.

    A couple of other over-used words:
    “Massive”. Every forthcoming match, every shot at goal, every revelation is “massive”.
    “Staggered”: I would be staggered to learn that staggered is not the most over-used word to describe amazed or astonished.

  11. How about basic or basically? I often use them myself. Then, of course, Bruce McAvaney constantly tell us someone is special.

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