Thumbs down to Grand Final telecast

As a recent inductee into the Floreat Pica Society, I am thoroughly enjoying the writing of the various members and sharing the joy of the occasion. I am celebrating the win in a very understated way, and very much looking forward to the dinner this Saturday night. I feel privileged.

However, those of my family members who shared Saturday afternoon with me would know that I didn’t really enjoy the grand final. I was loud and abusive, repetitious in my complaints, angry and generally unsociable. Where? At home. When? During the entire match, and also immediately afterwards. At whom was this abuse hurled? Players? No. Umpires? Surprisingly, no (well – that it is not entirely true, but that can be a separate topic). The subject of my abuse was the faceless men (I assume) of channel 7. Not the commentators, but those who contrive to put together football television viewing that serves to frustrate a person trying to follow the game via the small screen.

I love going to the football. The perspective is important in seeing the play outside the ball; looking ahead to assess a player’s options (and often to verbally convey your suggestions to said player); taking pride in being able to answer the question from nearby fans when they frequently ask “what happened then?” It is a game made for live viewing. Saturday I watched the game on TV at home. I am a restricted MCC member, a limbo state which many will know means access to all games except one (or two depending on the year): the grand final. Helen and I had driven back from Adelaide on Friday afternoon/evening, a day earlier than scheduled in order to watch the game. Accompanying us on the journey home were son Herb and a school friend of his. Our other son, Bill, had stayed in Melbourne with various friends over the course of our week away. Our two daughters, Audrey and Ursula were fortunate enough to fly back on Saturday having completed their commitments as members of the Victorian Under 15 lacrosse tea. (just had to get that little bit of pride into the article). By the first bounce, all the family were assembled to watch the game, although Ursula, being a Geelong supporter, didn’t take a lot of interest. Helen, also Geelong, watched, and supported Collingwood – sort of.

You will read elsewhere descriptions of the game and the wonderful win. I am not even going to complain about the total lack of imagination in pre-game “entertainment” or selection of a fossil to sing the national anthem. My purpose is to point out the many and varied inadequacies of the producers of the television picture that the majority of people were forced to endure.

  1. Too often the camera shot was too close to the ball. It was impossible to tell what was happening outside the immediate play. I am not talking about panoramic views – just pull back a few metres.
  2. Too often the play was outside the picture. As a consequence of focussing in too close, the play would move too quickly for the camera operator’s reactions to keep up with the play.
  3. Lingering shots of the coach’s box or the players on the bench. For goodness sake, the coaches are not an interesting spectacle. And the players on the bench can be named. You don’t need to see them sitting there to know that they are probably unlikely to perform some game-changing miracle while on the sidelines. There was an example in the last quarter when the camera focussed in too close even for this picture: you could see, but not easily identify, two players (and they were St Kilda – which meant it was a compete waste). What is the point?
  4. Returning to the play from afore-mentioned unnecessary lingering shots after play had re-commenced. Aaaaarrrrgh.
  5. The overhead camera. This, on a small number of occasions, particularly when from behind a player taking a kick for goal, was worthwhile. All other times, all it seemed to achieve was confusion for the viewer: Where is the play? Where on the field are we? Who has the ball? There was one occasion when they switched to this camera just as the player was taking their kick for goal. The viewer had no opportunity to rework the perspective in the own mind to try and interpret what was happening on-screen. And for Chris Dawes’ last kick for goal, the camera angle made it impossible to work out the kick trajectory. The viewer was totally reliant on the crowd reaction to know whether the goal had been kicked.
  6. Perpetuating the Collingwood supporter stereotype myth. I refer to the moment two and a half minutes before the siren. You all know what I am talking about. Such rare individuals do not represent the typical supporter. I wouldn’t allow them oxygen let alone air time.
  7. The final siren. This is my big one. I concede that Luke Ball is a story, but he is not THE story. The siren sounds with the ball in the hands of one of only two Collingwood players remaining from the 2002/03 losses, Alan Didak. The parallels with Darren Millane are innumerable: history of trouble; playing the finals series with serious injury; loved son of the club; etc; etc;. So, on the siren, the producer immediately switches to a shot of a singular Luke Ball. After what seems like 10 seconds, they resume normal programming, but the moment is lost. That small moment was television travesty. Someone should be shot.


Enough. There are more complaints but that is enough. I needed to get all this out. My family complained about me often enough on the day – they will not be pleased that I am still carrying on.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. channel ten did a better job i must say.
    How did your talented girls go? :)

  2. AF – the TV coverage infuriates me. We miss crucial bits of play whilst the camera shows us what’s going on on the interchange bench. I often find myself yelling at the TV “PUT THE BLOODY CAMERA BACK ON THE PLAY!!”

    Having said that, I don’t think anyone should be shot. Bit drastic.

  3. Andrew Fithall says

    Danielle – Audrey was part of the winning team, but illness throughout the week meant she was not a great contributor. Ursula’s team came fourth but Urs said she enjoyed the best week of her life. It was a wonderful experience for them and something they would love to have the opportunity to do again.

    Dips – I think shooting is a little more humanitarian that the “hung, drawn and quartered” response I was originally seeking. I am pleased to hear that others also yell at the TV. Do you get in as much trouble with your family as I do mine?

  4. AF,
    You havent yelled at the TV until the next door neighbour comes over to intervene in a seemingly violent domestic dispute only to see a lonely figure sitting on the couch with his Carlton scarf on

  5. “Such rare individuals do not represent the typical supporter. I wouldn’t allow them oxygen let alone air time.”!!!

    Do you really mean that last sentence? Surely Collingwood has its fair share of bogans and a fair amount of bogan pride — that’s what Sir Edward feeds off. Any club that would sanction the chap below is asking for some cheap shots.

  6. Andrew,
    Very early on in the first grand final, the group of friends with whom I was watching the match came up with the catch-cry “Show us the game!” whenever the following occurred:
    a) Lingering shots of “celebrities” (e.g. Eric Bana, Michael Klim) which served no purpose and were irrelevant to the mood and feel of the game,
    b) Channel 7’s obsession with continuing to use the “behind the goal” camera, even though play has been transferred from the kick-in to the opposite end of the ground,
    c) Pointless replays of inconsequential incidents while play is actually going on (e.g. just why was the ball taken off Collingwood in that first incident in the goal-square…I still don’t know!),
    d) the Channel 7 director’s indecisiveness regarding just when to use the close-up or wide-angle shot.
    It was hilarious that even the kids were all yelling “Show us the game!” in unison by the end of the match.
    Darren Dawson.

  7. Dips,
    The coverage was truly appalling. They just do not understand that they need to merely keep it simple, and the viewer will be happy.
    You say the commentary wasn’t an issue but, believe me, it could have been a whole lot better also.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    Geelong don’t win GF’s when broadcast by Ch7 (67,89,92,94,95,08).

    They do when broadcast by Ch10.

    No sight of Eric Bana in the replay.

    It is quite comical to see how much of Eric Bana is in the ’09 GF and the ’10 GF(I).

    Agree AF. Have a great night with the FP mob. They are good value.

    There are reports of a shimmy being performed on the streets of Stockholm.

  9. Andrew Fithall says

    Tony Robb (#4) – Now that is funny

    Ian (#7) – that oxygen/air time comment I would also apply here

    Flynny (#9) – Haiku Bob has reported that he watched the game in Stockholm. Doesn’t mention a shimmy, but did say this: “I watched the game in a pub in Stockholm, sitting next to none other than Neil Roberts – Saint premiership player and Brownlow Medallist! Could not believe my eyes. He was at the G last week before heading off on a European holiday. A great thrill for me, but another sad day for him.”

  10. Peter Flynn says

    Yes I received the same correspondence and made up the shimmy bit.

    It’s starting to cool off in Sweden. A shimmy is a perfect way to keep warm.

  11. John Butler says

    I wonder if HB partook of a beer bong to celebrate?

    Goes well with a shimmy.

  12. Well, I was at the game (loving every minute I might add) so I missed out on the ups and downs of the 7 broadcast.
    My disappointment was not being able to hear the Footballing Great One’s stunning commentary on key moments throughout the game.
    Like this:

    “Oh my goodness. Wonderful chase my Heath Shaw. He came up behind him like a librarian. He never heard him. No surprise. Everybody else in the library is shouting.”

    I’d put up with bad camera angles and lingering shots of the coaches box for that call alone.

  13. Andrew Fithall says

    Tails – Darren Dawson (#8) refers to the other side of the commentary. Some of it was inane, some banal. When McAvaney started carrying on about parallels with Mary McKillop it bordered on bizarre. Leaping Larry game him his right whack in his Age column.

  14. Andrew; tut tut tut. “Somebody should be shot”!

    You can’t really want to bring Squzzie Taylor back to Collingwood can you.

  15. Damo Balassone says

    Andrew, you are right on the money & I am glad this has finally being brought up.
    The single biggest problem with footy coverage this year has been the close ups which deprive the viewer of knowing 1) where the ball is in relation to the goals and 2) where the player’s opponent is when he is approaching goal.

    Whenever a player with the ball nears the goals, Channel 7 elects to go to a worms-eye camera view that makes it impossible to know if the player is about to get tackled or indeed how close to goal he actually is. The perfect examples this season are:
    1) Lance Franklin’s goal of the year vs. Essendon. They should have just used the side-on camera for this whole run and amazing kick from the boundary. Instead we are given a worms-eye view and are thus not aware of how close to goal Lance is, or how close his opponent is to tacking him. In the end the camera flashes to the ball splitting the sticks, but we don’t see the journey of the ball leaving his boot.
    2) Alan Didak’s angle goal vs. Dogs in Qualifying Final. Similar to above.

    Very frustrating. This has to be addressed by the networks next year. The normal side on camera view is the only one to use during general play. The other cameras views should only be utilised when using replays.

  16. Crowd shots drive me nuts. This year was bad enough with Klim, Bana, Molly, Eddie, et al. But 2010 did not come within cooey of 2005; especially the last quarter, which contained a head-slappingly titanic number of crowd shots, only one of which was worthwhile: The Footy Almanac’s very own Paul Daffey.

  17. Great! :) send the girls my best wishes of congrats on thier efforts.

    If channel seven were any good, they woulda crossed live to my house to get my reactions! I mean ive got a cowgirl hat plus i know im better looking than Molly!lol

  18. Steve Healy says

    Andrew, I do agree with you, the overhead camera was used too much for set shots and it simply looks too shaky and weird for live viewing (its ok to show on replays), one example of this was when Harry O’brien kicked that goal.

    Still, i didn’t think it was that much of an issue, while there was bad camerawork after the siren it was made up for when they showed the Collingwood players up close doing a lap around the MCG.


  19. That’s cooee Tony.

  20. Andrew Fithall says

    With the disappointment (and that is too weak a word) of the sexual assault allegations, is a link to an excellent article by Clem Bastow just posted on ABC The Drum.

  21. Pamela Sherpa says

    The worst thing about the telecasts on all channels are the bloody ads between the action. They drive me nuts.

  22. Barb Clarke says

    In this technological age why can’t they show live action and a replay at the same time if the producers have convinced themselves that we actually want to see replayed action? They managed to use split screen for the coaches during the GF.

    Andrew, I think your complaints and yelling at the tv must have a genetic component; other members of the family have been known to act in a similar fashion.

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