Sports Radio


by Peter Edwards

Inspired by a comment johnharms made on a haiku bob post.

“HB, WE were listening to this {Pies/Roos mis-match} from Keith to Dimboola. That was three hours. The haiku version of 18.4 seconds offers more.”

I relate. In every way. And it brought back memories.

When I’m on the road, my preferred listening (as I’m sure it is with most Almanackers) is anything associated with sports. Regardless of the quality of the content or the contest (read Pies V Roos mis-match), the alternatives just don’t excite me.

Many times past have I been on the road on a long drive, reception fading, where I have persevered with a sports broadcast or discussion through a stream of crackle, just hanging on for the intermittent bursts of vocal clarity. If the Cats are playing, the frustration is palpable when the static finally consumes all signs of human life. I scan, hoping that a local station is relaying the footy.  Country music. Scan. Interview with the breeder who won “Best Bull” at the show. Scan. Alan Jones? Hmmm, could be interesting. Scan.

The footy is prima for me. The cricket is always a good one to while away the hours.

“Can we put my Rhianna CD on now please dad,” my teenage daughter may ask. “Sure. But first I need to hear who wins Race 7 at Yackandandah.”  No bet or owning interest, just a want to know the outcome; to be “present” at the time it happens.

Like the time Hayden and Gilchrist took the long handle to Harbhajan in Mumbai in 2001. Brilliant radio.  Or the time the Cats were robbed by the umpires in the 1981 prelim against the Pies. Or the time Bruce MacAvaney effortlessly called “Ngossi Ngossi Moawana Moawamba” 3 times in a heat of the Women’s 200m at the Barcelona Olympics.

There was, however, one magnificent event at which I was “present” via radio which stands alone.

On the 24th December in ’86 I received a call from Dave to see if I wanted to shoot up to Queensland for a couple of weeks. We’d leave on Boxing Day.

It had been a tough first year at Deakin. My reading of the Form had improved dramatically, I had become a rather good pool player, I held the high score on the pinball machine in the cafeteria, my tolerance to alcohol had substantially increased, we knew all the barmaids by name at the many pubs doing “dollar dazzlers”, and I earned a little cash-in-hand working part time at Rent-A-Wreck.

There was also a rumour that the University held exams.  I never could find the hall. Probably for the best, really. They may have been the straw that broke me. A tough first year indeed and a break was definitely needed.

Boxing Day, 6AM, I’m in my car heading over to Dave’s. Sitting next to me is the most excellent picnic. My dad got up at 5:30am to make and pack it. I’m still touched by that. Leftover Christmas ham sandwiches, pieces of roast chicken, fruit cake.

I get to Dave’s. “Scotty and Stevo are coming. They’ll be a couple of hours.” An astute move by Dave. Scotty’s “Golden Holden” is more reliable than our cars. It also has the best radio.

We’re finally on the road and leaving Geelong just after 11am. Straight on to the cricket. It’s a dream!  Four mates in a car on the way to Noosa for two weeks of mayhem, and to kick it off we get to listen to the Aussies give it to the Poms – uninterrupted.

By Puckapunyal, the picnic’s gone, and so are the Aussies. It’s about 1pm. We scan channels and suddenly hear the golden sound of a sports broadcast which is not the cricket!

“And Cash, jammed by a serve to the body, punches it back at the feet of an incoming Edberg, who plays a half volley deep to the forehand court….”

I didn’t really warm to Cash for the same reasons I cannot warm to Hewitt. Edberg was a favourite for the same reasons I loved Rafter.

But this was Davis Cup. The final, no less. C’mon Aussies. Redeem yourselves!

For several hours, four cramped men making a spontaneous 24 hour road trip on a stinking hot day with no air-conditioning and recovering from a first-innings collapse at the ‘G, shared one of the most riveting sports radio events I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. Pure theatre, tension and elation. The Pies can have Arizona. This was bonding at its best.

Cash in straight sets – 13-11, 13-11, 6-4.

What a way to make a long, uncomfortable trip that little bit easier.

What is your favourite “sports radio” memory?


  1. johnharms says

    Thanks Peter. With family in Queensland and South Australia I ahve spent a lot of time behind the wheel – and yes that means listening to sport. ON tennis, Safin v Federer one January, which went from Warwick to Moree. I was waiting for the NRMA as the Australians chased at Sydeney that time (was it Marsh and Taylor? Boon and Taylor?) Many a time listening to footy. No good for AFL footy when oyu’re p north, until the sun goes down and you can pick up ABC stations from everywhere.

  2. david butler says

    SR Waugh January 2003, listening to ABC radio on a portable tranny at Jervis Bay. Kerry O’Keeffe “forget about the silver Stephen go for the gold”.

  3. haiku bob says

    i spent many hours in my youth going up and down the newell in the back seat of the kingswood. usually during the summer holidays of course, which meant we had the cricket on the radio the whole time. don’t remember too many specifics, only the pleasant warmth of a much needed wicket on the endless straights of the newell.

    my dad worked in the bank and was transferred to brisbane in september 1979. so we found ourselves back in the back seat of the kingswood on a bleak afternoon during the 1979 qualifying final, when the pies kicked a pitiful 9.28 and got flogged by the roos. pretty sure graham ‘smoky’ dawson was calling.

    i remember waking up the next day

  4. haiku bob says

    ….waking up the next day somewhere north of the border blaming myself for not being there and asking dad to turn around and go back!

Leave a Comment