Oh dear, Dermie

Dear Dermie,


I am a Hawthorn supporter and was one of your greatest fans. Until last week.


Without any evidence whatsoever, you planted a suggestion of grooming in the AFLW. When I heard about it, I asked my sister if you really asked that question. I was certain you didn’t. Surely you are enthusiastic about the AFLW? I know that Hawthorn is a family club and is all-embracing. So one of its famous sons would not do something like this.


But I checked. I listened to the question. It was an unsubstantiated question. What the Dickens were you thinking?


I’m a Hawthorn tragic. But I cannot condone this behaviour. It would be hurtful to you if unsubstantiated and horrid allegations were made about you.  The culture of the AFLW is such an important component of its success and you have besmirched that fabulous spirit.


Your suggestion ranks with the suggestion by Senator Eric Abetz last week that gay people can become “straight”. Perhaps you and he can establish a party of two that is unwelcoming of diversity, that questions the very heart of those who aren’t the same as the both of you?


The AFLW’s first season has been fantastic. We have seen skills that we haven’t seen in the men’s game. We were on the edge of our seats in many games. It was enthralling. The skill set of many of the women plus their fitness was amazing. Erin Phillips’ biceps are a sight to behold.


I am intrigued that the kiss between Erin Phillips and Tracy Gahan has provoked such discussion, especially from a member of a family club – Hawthorn. No one made a big fuss when Shane Crawford kissed his Mum after he won the Brownlow. There was no Oedipus suggestion. He kissed his Mum because she had a big hand in his success. Why shouldn’t Erin kiss her partner? The bigger discussion was surely her ability to kick goals, mark beyond anyone else, lead by example? In much the same way that we all celebrated Shane’s successes.


The unsubstantiated allegation by you is seen by many of us as an attempt to railroad the very successful AFLW. Does this successful competition threaten you? Perhaps it does as women are encroaching not just on the footy field, but also in the commentary box?


Don’t worry, Dermie. The women’s game can’t be compared with the men’s. It’s completely different, which is why it was so successful.


I’m calling it, Dermie. Time you were traded in for a new model. A woman. May be one who has empathy, compassion and justice on her side. One who would never make unsubstantiated allegations as a pseudo reporter or commentator?


Love, Good luck,


About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Anne,

    can I express my puzzlement, what is “grooming”.? Is it meant to be something like “preparing people for…” and was he meaning “to be gay”. Is he concerned there is something predatory going on, as that’s one of the ways such a word is used. I looked at a MamaMia article to see what happened, and he said he had three sources. Three sources of what? People who feel the same way?

    A more sensitive person may have had a chat to Gillion off air, and had a private discussion if he had concerns and sources. This way he may have been able to work through some of his own puzzlement perhaps without laying it on everyone else.

    What saddens me most, is that Dermies comments cements the us/them attitude. That women are ‘different’ in an incomprehensible way, and gay women more so. It is little wonder no gay AFLM player has ever come out.

    He is a man of his time and place. He can be enjoyed as a commentator to men’s footy and an ex-champion. He’s not relevant to women’s footy.

    Thankfully, there are some really great commentators that have developed and come to the fore this year, who have enjoyed the AFLW for what it is – women playing footy on a semi-professional level and heading for a professional one.

    thanks for opening up a discussion.

  2. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Thanks Yvette. I think he *may* have been suggesting that women were being groomed to be gay which I find offensive – it therefore suggests that leadership and others are condoning such behaviour that he is suggesting without evidence.
    I have been despondent about the men’s game over the last few weeks (not least because the Hawks are not going well!), because of the lack of diversity in the commentary team on pay TV.
    I have loved the commentary in the AFLW. I’ve loved the culture. I’ve loved the diversity. I’ve loved the commitment!
    The women are here to stay, despite efforts by some to taint them.

  3. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Anne, agree about the diversity. Especially on Fox. It’s also like that on SEN1116, but at least Francis Leach is inclusive in his program. Mornings and afternoons, and commentary, not at all.

    I am in the habit of giving Dermie a wide berth at the best of times. The whole ‘grooming’ thing speaks to fear rather than reality.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Upon finding out that my daughter was signing up for footy an extended family member (while I was not present) expressed concern that they’d ‘turn her into a lesbian’. It amazes me in this day and age that we have so many people who consider themselves intelligently functioning adults who believe LGBTIQ people are leering lecherous evil doers, intent on perverting our children.

    Let’s face it, it’s what is driving the anti marriage equality movement in our parliament that is so out of touch with the everyday reality of our lives and the way younger Australians think about such things (that it is because they are often members of institutions that have actually groomed children further beggars belief). The only way you could possibly think like that is if you actually don’t know any gay people in any meaningful way. They are no more owned by their sexual identity than anyone else.

    When I look at the AFLW I see strong, fit, educated, artistic, eloquent people. If you can groom girls for that, groom away. Perhaps Dermie could pick up some of those traits while he’s at it. That he has a job in commentary is the perfect demonstration of the need for more diversity in our footy media.

  5. There are a thousand reasons for the choices we make in life. A mix of nature and nurture. Environment and culture in our surroundings certainly have an influence. Like growing up in a catholic or muslim or radical atheist household. So what?
    “Grooming” implies something sinister. Dermie must be reading too many Trump tweets.
    What amazes me is the outdated idea that there is something evil or unhelpful in this sort of choice. On balance women are more likely to be bashed or humiliated in a heterosexual relationship.
    Each to their own.

  6. Paul Young says

    Well done Anne, I agree Brereton is probably past his use-by-date. The suggestion of grooming was grossly inappropriate. I can’t recall Brereton ever raising the issue of young male players being groomed for illicit drugs and alcohol abuse which is of far greater concern.

    I’m weaning myself off the TV footy shows. I didn’t even watch ‘On the Couch’ this week, and that is one show I rarely miss. I’m getting tired of the bulldust from middle aged ‘macho’ men making ridiculous comments and stupid predictions based on one game. After two rounds, clubs were being written off, coaches in crisis, Gary Ablett is finished with the Gold Coast, some players are soft and not up to league standard, etc, etc.

    I actually picked the Gold Coast because history shows that when the Melbourne footy media bags the crap out of a club and talks up false rumours of turmoil, the club often responds on the field. Brereton is a shocker for slagging off players and spreading rumours.

    I too was fascinated by the diversity and maturity of the footy commentary of the AFLW. It was very refreshing to hear so much positivity about the players and the clubs.

    I think I’ll be saving a lot of time this year, not tuning into these ego maniacs on the various AFL shows.

  7. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    I appreciate all your reaffirming comments, people. Thanks!

  8. Barb Jamieson says

    Sadly, Darling Dermie comes from the old “boys club”, and is a dinosaur of the game. He comes from the old culture , where anything goes , both on and off the field, and which has been the downfall of some good players , who had the same mentality . Just one example was Alex Fevola, whose off field antics were tolerated simply because it was a blokey way to behave , and he was still kicking goals .
    Those days are long gone , and its time that these children in mens clothing actually understood that bigotry, racism and the old boys club need to move over and make room for accepting people for who they are , what they do , and how they choose to do it .
    Time that the AFL, Foxtel , and any other form of media took this man aside , and had a quiet word in his ear , words like , shape up , or ship out .
    A true sportsman would be focusing on what these ladies achieved on the field, instead of honing in on his own narrow minded thinking ,and honestly, while I respect what he achieved in the game, and his football knowledge, when it comes to the modern game , he is behind the eight ball

  9. Barb I reckon you’re being harsh on Alex Fevola. You don’t have to look too far to find people who behaved even worse than she did. Her husband Brendan, for instance, was no angel. Check your misogyny at the door.
    I’m happy the AFLW has kicked off so well. But somewhat bemused by the notion the AFL has suddenly emancipated women. The women playing netball, hockey, basketball, soccer etc (All to a far more professional and skilled level than the women of AFLW. None of their B&Fs are fly-in-fly-out players) must be shaking their heads in wonder at this.

    As to Dermie, he’s always had a very strange take on grooming. But his footy nouse is top shelf. I think the calls to kick him off air for his silly, thoughtless comment are, well… silly.

  10. Anne Myers says

    Hi Anne,
    That was a sweet letter. Dermie’s so ‘bright’ he didn’t even realise his comments say more about him than anything that could really hurt AFLW. He isnt part of a future that I envisage. . There is real change in the air and for men like Dermie who seem unable to listen to what’s happening out here that will mean his demise.

  11. Steve Todorovic says

    Great original article and agree with all of the subsequent comments. Dermie is still living in the 80’s and we really shouldn’t pay him or his neanderthal like comments any attention. For Derm, it always has and always will be about himself. A very good long time friend’s 22 year old daughter played for the Blues this season and the joy, pride and absolute exhilaration it brought to so many people who know her, will be fondly remembered long after Dermie’s diatribe has been consigned to where it best sits…..the waste bin.

  12. You might enjoy Marngrook Footy Show, Paul Young. It’s a breath of fresh air.

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