Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Remembering the 1999 Football Feedback Summit

Younger readers may scoff, but there was a time when the Internet was still total shite. And that time was 1999. Everything loaded slowly, your connection was still at the mercy of somebody picking up the phone in another room, people still used phrases like "surf the web" and "information superhighway" without a hint of irony, old people who tried to use it were fleeced by a Nigerian scammer within 25 seconds of logging on and the AFL's website looked something like this.

So what does the early days of widespread online pornography have to do with a program hosted by Robert Walls? Surprisingly little, but the point is that sometime around 2006 the second head was chiselled into my personal online Mt. Rushmore when YouTube came along (Wikipedia was first, Twitter would follow, the fourth spot is open for the future).

Had it only been cats doing funny things, people singing ear splitting covers of pop songs and neckbeards filming themselves taking things out of boxes for the first time I might not have given it any more time than Pets.com, Ask Jeeves or the Lemon Party but a small group of geniuses saw the real potential for YouTube and have been exploiting it ever since. They are the uploaders of minority interest random shit found on a VHS.

From endless clips of a usually pissed Molly Meldrum on Countdown to 1981 pro wrestling from New Zealandads from your childhoodMelbourne vs Collingwood in Round 6, 1986 and the Robelinda archive which even makes cricket seem interesting until the dickheads who run the game finally succeed in having it torn down - there is something for every taste.

It was in one of these sad, late night slop binges that I came across Jaroosa. Amongst a bunch of Carlton clips (which are as interesting as any other from a historical perspective) I found the four part epic that is C7 Sport's 1999 Football Feedback Summit (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Now a) who would have thought to tape this at the time?, b) who'd have kept it for 15 years if they were on it? and c) who'd take the time to upload it to the internet? If you represent A, B and C then you're somebody that I'd like to meet.

His (come on let's be serious it's always men) videos even include one of the great banners ever hoisted in the crowd at a footy game. One to even rival the great RECEIVES HEAD shown at the SCG in the early 90's.



Anyway, back to the summit. Where the great, the good and some randoms who have never been heard of since joined together on the evening of Monday May 31 1999 to discuss crucial issues pertaining to the national sport on the cusp of a new century. I started watching just to see if anybody started crying about the game not being as good as it used to be, but in the words of famous director Marty Di Bergi "I got more... A lot more."

The cast
We join in progress as the panellists who will be fielding questions are introduced over the sort of cosmic backing track you usually only hear in corporate videos record in the late 80's.




First it's The Chief that time forgot. This is mainly because the Internet was too young to gather the troops and kick the living bejesus out of everything he did. He is also notable amongst the last three heads of the league for not overtly trying to send any teams to their grave, though as you will see he was clearly very keen to assist in frog-marching at least one long standing Victorian side to Sydney.


A commissioner, who apparently said in 1995 that Port Adelaide should join the league, Fitzroy should merge with Brisbane, Footscray would leave the Western Oval and each club should have a minimum salary cap. This means he was either a fantastic judge of the future or was actually running the league as a puppet regime the whole time.


The soon to be premiership CEO, who brings an attitude to the panel that is so casual if he was any more relaxed he would be dead. Greg (or somebody purporting to be him) would later heartlessly thwart my attempts to be picked for Channel 7's reality show The Club.


Parko apparently used to almost go the vom during close games (not sure why they don't use the spare line in his bio to mention this) which at least gives us one thing in common.


Richard apparently tipped $1 million of his own money in to get the West Coast Eagles off the ground, so I'm not going to say anything suspect about him because he's got enough money to have me killed.


The future CEO, wearing his AFL Players Association hat and trading under the far less corporate name "Andy". Apparently chaired "The Ruthinium Group", which sounds the front organisation for a Bond movie villain.

Introduction

We open with Robert Walls sitting in front of an old school test pattern and telling us, in the most wooden voice imaginable, that "not.. a lot.. will go on.. in the new millennium.. without those guys knowing about it."


Rob's difficulties with the autocue explain why he never made it past special comments to a lucrative hosting role on network television.

The panel

Robert promises us respected journalists and faces familiar to Football Feedback viewers. We'll have to take his word on the second one. The panel ends up consisting of people who are still going now and some you've probably not heard of since the year 2000.


John Gardiner/Hawthorn Secondary College's second greatest export (#1 Justin Murphy, #3 me) RoCo, is shown looking exasperated. Have I ever told you about the time he came to speak at our assembly and five minutes later two girls in the audience punched on? Oh I have? Several times you say? Let's move on.


This looks like the opening credits of a sitcom when they're introducing the uncle who says offensive things at the table and tries to touch everyone up. To the best of our knowledge Patrick has never done either of those things.


What panel (except the Match Review) would be complete without Mike doing his best to hide the fact that he loves the Dees?


Caro on the phone getting another leak from a Melbourne board member


Uncle Monty from Withnail and I portraying some bloke from the agents association


A 17-year-old Anthony Hudson ducks out of his high school prom to join us


"3LO special comments person Joyce Brown" who I have absolutely no memory of - and Google is no help with just 15 completely irrelevant results for "Joyce Brown" + 3LO.

And some other people. If Joyce or her fans feel slighted that I don't remember her they can take comfort that I've got NFI who Michael Davis is either.



The summit

Robert raises my hopes for an hour of "yeah the game is shit, we should go back to how it was in 1976" by explaining how by the end of the night we'll know more about the game, where it and we the footy fans are headed. 

I dare say at this point the odds of all the Victorian clubs surviving for 15 more years in a relatively untouched fashion would have been about 5000-1 so there is almost no doubt that at some point during the evening the panel will attempt to cull every side in Melbourne not called Carlton, Collingwood or Essendon (NB: This does not actually end up happening. What a glory era).

"Let's get into it!" says Robert, with the most conviction that he'll have all night, and we cut to a low shot of him striding through the slowly opening Studio 7 door. The cost this shot alone probably sent Optus Vision broke. In a piece of classic television bullshit he then walks into the studio as if the previous shot was live, saunters past the inquisitors and takes up a position on the Football Feedback Summit throne where he will proceed to do little all night other than read awkwardly.


The first outlandish claim of the evening is that this show was going to "just under 500 thousand homes" (and in case you missed the enormity of that fact Robert repeats it) via Optus Vision and the Austar satellite. Which presumably implied every single set in their broadcast universe was turned on and switched to the station at the time, which is absolute cobblers. This was also broadcast live on 3AW's Sports Today "So welcome.. to all of.. 3AW's.. listeners" says Robert nervously clutching his clipboard in the same way that Damien Barrett does an iPad. The difference being you feel sorry for Robert but want to smash that bloody device over Ballbag Barrett's head.

Before proceedings could kick off we're introduced to home viewer Henry Monkus who has won a competition to be on the panel tonight. It's never made clear if he won via luck, skill or deathsports but his claim that he always watches Footy Feedback and "every other show we tape" clearly startle somebody in the control room and they temporarily promote him to CEO of the competition.


It's then revealed that Henry is a Melbourne fan (hooray!) but that his kids have decided that they're St Kilda fans (boo!) so where he has achieved as a human he clearly failed as a parent. Sucked in to his kids when we were knocking the Saints out of the finals the year before, and sucked in to the entire household for going another 15 years and counting without ever seeing a flag. No doubt Henry, or somebody who knows him, is out there so get in contact at the usual address.

Topic 1 - State of Origin
What a topical time to recap this, in the same week that every single AFL player decides they'd love it to come back knowing secretly that they'd all "do a hammy" if it did.

Walls asks: "When do you think we might see State of Origin live again?" Which is odd because is he implying that we might have games played in the middle of the night and replayed in prime time?

Wayne, sadly given his own name on the bottom of the screen and not that of Henry Monkus, takes a deep breath as if he's trying to come up with a popular answer then decides to tell the truth. "If we see it again.." he says ominously, and for better or worse we never have. He suggests that in the off-chance that Origin returns it won't be until 2003 or 2004 because we've got a four year deal with the Irish to get through first - implying that the game of Australian rules would be far better served by our boys beat up amateurs from another country than playing against each other.

After that probing dissection of origin Robert throws to the panel and we begin an evening of some poor boom-mic operator being driven insane trying to keep up with 10 people butting in on each other and making random, pointless statements.

Rohan is the first cab off the rank, asking if the shithouse 26k crowd for the Victoria/South Australia game the previous weekend (albeit on a day where it pissed down non-stop for the entire match) will count against the concept in the future. Wayne denies it and says that one of the reasons he wants to play origin is to reward players and to 'develop' the game in other markets. He betrays the thinking of 1999 by alluding to Sydney in every second line then suggests that the Irish series will keep players happy (only for the away trips where they get a free holiday and the chance to urinate on a window in a different country) and cites Todd Viney's claims that the highlight of his career was playing for Australia as if it's proof the concept is the next big thing.

Mike then floats his first silly theory for the night by asking if we could have a carnival featuring all states on a four year basis, a suggestion which to his credit Wayne humours.

Huddo Jr chimes in with the suggestion of an All-Star game, which is fair enough, before ruining it by going off piste by passing on one of the worst suggestions in the history of football. Some peanut 3AW caller has decided we should divide the 16 teams into two groups of eight and then have the All-Star game played for premiership points. By the end Wayne is giving him such a withering look, and not even bothering to humour him, that Huddo concedes it's a silly idea.

Caro, losing her voice already after a hard day on the phones, asks Parko what he thinks about the possibility of losing his players to injury in a state game and he looks as if he's about to go postal.


Fortunately that's just the way a four-time premiership coach takes in a question, and he resists the temptation to tear the set apart. He does the usual company line about how happy he was to see his boys get picked but simultaneously admits that he had his "head under the pillow" for the whole game waiting for one of them to get crocked.

The game must have been going fairly well if State of Origin was the most important topic in the game so thank god Patrick Smith's here to cut somebody else off mid-question and spin the wheel for our first random change of topic for the evening.

Topic 2 - 17-year-olds in the draft
"For it or against it?" he asks Parko, pointing his pen around in a manner that would thrill Sigmund Freud. Was he taking notes? I know nobody reads The Australian but surely even then they paid him enough to buy a VCR and tape the summit to watch back later.

There's far too much sensible talk here, with Parkin saying that he thinks there's plenty of 16 and 17 year olds who can play but getting an education first is important in case they don't make it. Rohan then risks a backhander from Smith (fortunately they're at opposite ends of the panel) by cutting off his follow up question and going back to Topic 1, asking Andy D if we should make it more financially attractive for players to show up to origin games. Andrew's not available so instead the question goes to The Count from Sesame Street:


Apparently 88% of players were pro-Origin at the time, but he suggests that nobody's "come up with the right formula" - which eventually included himself for all times other than that bollocks Victoria vs All-Stars game that was played the night I put an IKEA couch together.

Patrick then confuses the issue even further by going back to the bloody 17-year-olds again (which I'm sure was not on any running sheet). He accuses the AFLPA of doing a "360 degree turn" on this matter, which Count Andy flat out denies before using the term "carte blanche" and saying that of course 18-year-olds should be drafted - which sadly runs counter to some tremendously boring modern thinking.

Topic 3 - Collective Bargaining Agreement

Caro decides she's had enough of Patrick's bullshit and throws a related topic to Andy. "When is it going to be signed?" she asks. He goes into the sleazy politician mode that we're all familiar with and does a bit of dancing around before admitting it's going to be signed on Wednesday. The bloke up the back who I'd never heard of manages to get involved by yelling a question out, but he's too far away from the boom-mic and in the spirit of a post-match press conference you barely hear it.

Topic 4 - Player managers

Flushed with success Michael Davis - apparently the Chief Football writer of The Australian before Patrick knifed him - spins the wheel again after that brief, boring CBA interlude and asks about Ron Joseph not joining the Player Manager's Association - which is only marginally less tedious than a CBA question, and I'm sure even less relevant to the average fan.

Smith then chips in (of course), leading to Michael cracking a bit of a gag and tragically getting absolutely no reaction. Not the time or place mate, we're discussing the future of the game here.

16m, 45s into the show we finally get to see Greg Miller for the first time as part of this discussion and he's exhibiting all the traditional body language of somebody who quite frankly can't be stuffed.


The phrase 'restraint of trade' is then used, which when it comes to sports is usually enough to put any reasonable person to sleep and almost does so for Greg.

Joyce then makes her first appearance, introduced by Wallsy because clearly she's the only person (other than the home viewer who is just sitting there looking terrified and waiting for his scripted questions to come up) who has the manners to put her hand up and wait to be called instead of barging in to the discussion uninvited. She then throws it all away by going all the way back to Topic 2 which she'd obviously been stewing on for minutes, asking why if players can go to the Institute of Sport before 17 why they can't go to a footy club. Parkin points out that "his bitch is about" education (a line I think was later sampled by Jay Z), as Joyce demands clubs set up similar programs. How much money does the pre-Brayshaw JB think clubs had to throw around? Why don't we just set up MFC High in the parking lot at Casey Fields?

Topic 5 - The Shirtfront

Nearly 20 minutes in and Mike Sheahan is the voice of reason to take us "inside the fence" and finally ask about an on-field matter. Does Parko think you should be able to murder unsuspecting players in the style of Byron Pickett vs Brendan Krummel? Surprisingly he doesn't invoke the "good old days" in a way that mentalist like Mal Brown would and instead, mentioning that he's been on the end of plenty, describes the shirtfront as "a disgrace".

Casual Greg Miller, treading a fine line as the CEO of Pickett's club, agrees that we need to "look at the grey areas" then risks censure by saying that the big hit was "good for our team at the time, but I'm not all that concerned about Brendan Krummel". It takes Joyce about three minutes to finally barge her way in and complain about his comments as if he'd admitted tipping Brendan off the stretcher. Greg responds to this salvo by opening his legs so far you can see his Shinboner spirit:


Even Wayne Jackson has to chip in to try and explain that Greg wasn't being serious, before pointing out that Parko is one of the 'few people who can get the rules changed' and that any rule can be changed by "a mechanism" involving various levels of football. This was clearly before the Laws of the Game Committee was formed with the goal of stuffing the game up on a yearly basis.

Before Moral Patrol Joyce chipped in Patrick asked Parko "How is it different from a player running back into the play and being collected?", knowing full well what the answer would be but just wanting to get his head on TV again. The Carlton man, in outstanding form, then turns the tables on the journos suggesting that the only reason the shirtfront hasn't yet been banned is because they write articles lauding it as a great part of the game.

Robert then reintroduces some sanity to proceedings by throwing to a break. Sadly we're not treated to the C7 Sport commercials because I'm sure they would have been on a par for quality with the ones you get on SEN.

Topic 6 - Sydney's future and the game in New South Wales

A full 26 minutes in Richard Colless finally gets a word in, but soon becomes an integral part of the discussion as we toss around ideas to ram the game down the throat of Sydneysiders who couldn't give a shit. Much like today.

Richard does a bit of a gag and gets slightly more laughs than Michael did earlier, then attempts to balance his position as Swans chairman with his role at the NSW Commission. He suggests that he doesn't care if there's a second Sydney team or a third one (don't give them any ideas) but that's it's done "correctly" and doesn't put at risk the years of work they've put into getting the Swans established.

He doesn't think there's anything 'magical' about having a second team ("or a tenth") in Sydney unless there's some rationale for it. We're then treated to the same rationale that we copped a decade later where the best they can come up is trying to rope people from the western suburbs in whether they like it or not.

Good luck to the Kangaroos with "what they're doing" he says, that being shifting several home games to the city in an attempt to cash in on this allegedly untapped pot 'o gold market (result: idea abandoned), but Colless does alludes to some tension with between the clubs. This tension will later be denied by Wayne J who blames the journalists for beating up the issue but is swiftly contradicted several seconds later by Miller. Mark Davis tries to further position himself as the jester of the panel by doing a joke about having had a bad experience with a kangaroo at the zoo as a kid but sadly he fails miserably again. During this show he also had several bad experiences with crickets after trying to crack a gag.

Graeme Samuel finally gets called up at the 28 minute mark to try and explain to us why it's so necessary to go north, then turn west. He does the basic maths and splits up the 4 million population of Sydney, suggesting that if we played one game a week through the season that we'd be "servicing" the city a lot better than we are now. He then floats an absurd theory of shifting Victorian club home games to the SCG as one option, possibly just to make us think that North relocating isn't such a bad idea because it doesn't mess with our clubs.

RoCo lobs a quality hand grenade at this point, pointing out that Sydney's crowds were actually down in 1999 so (to paraphrase) WTF are we worrying about a second team for? The expansionists aren't interested in such things as 'facts' and shoot him down quickly before Sheahan tries to win back some cred with the league by pointing out they haven't played any of the big Victorian teams at the SCG yet. Connolly is soon back on form by asking Jackson if crowds being down three years in a row is a trend, which the CEO rejects outright even though it quite obviously does represent one. Instead he claims it represents a "be wary" sign, which is management speak bullshit that David Brent would rise to applaud.

Smelling blood Caro leaps in, describing the league's strategy as "ad hoc" and refusing to stick to the AFL's agreed script by describing the move of South Melbourne to Sydney as "pretty disgraceful". She then accuses the league of trying to force North into relocating, which a fired up Wayne declares is "nonsense." This leads to Caro adopting Greg Miller-esque negative body language and adopting that withering glance we're so used to seeing on Footy Classified when she's faking being angry with Garry Lyon.


Under the laser eyed stare of the future first lady of football (presumably Joyce was the titleholder at the time) Wayne almost slips up, saying North have not "at this time" agreed to relocate. Oops.

Apparently North had picked up 3000 new members in Sydney from their four home game a year venture, which seems absolutely absurd but was probably just people buying four game memberships to get into the SCG matches on the cheap. Colless then reveals that he doesn't care because the Swans had to cap their membership that year. He's got no problem with the Kangaroos or anybody else being there, but "gets twitchy" that the league don't have a proper gameplan.

For the purposes of mockery he returns to to Huddo's ridiculous plan for an all-star game (attributing it to poor Huddo himself) and points out that the Melbourne media are insane for thinking that anybody in Sydney gives a rats about watching the game itself rather than a team. He reveals that the Swans need 50,000 crowds to break even at "Homebush" then gets narky when Rohan tries to cut him off.

Legs Akimbo Miller is given the chance to lay the groundwork for North's eventual move to Sydney by saying he's "very concerned" about the amount of support they've got in Melbourne and suggests that the club needs to find "new markets" while they're successful on field - accurately portraying the vast majority of his new constituents as bandwagon jumping filth. He refuses to guarantee that the club won't relocate and is saved by Colless who dives in to change the subject. Rohan's not falling for it though, showing all the street fighting skills he learnt on the mean streets of Burgess Street, Hawthorn to force Miller into answering the original question. Greg denies all unconvincingly, but it never actually happened so who am I to question him?

Him from the Agents Association realises that he hasn't said anything for a while and decides to chip in with a question about the "social engineering" aspects of relocating players to Sydney as if they're being asked to go to Moscow. Wayne points out that players are receiving an average of $110k a year (in an era before the average payments were skewed by giving stupid money to hacks like Hunt, Folau and $cully) so we shouldn't have too much trouble convincing them to move. So the Cost of Living Allowance wasn't actually required? That's good to know. He then all but condemns North to the gas chamber by suggesting that we've got 16 teams in the competition and two of them should be playing in Sydney.

Damien Agent harks back to the Swans and the problems they had 18 years previously and is zinged by Miller who points out that the players were on $30 a game at the time. Samuel then chips in with a few kicks at Damien's lifeless corpse before opening the AFL maths portfolio again by telling us how many people live in Sydney and explaining how we haven't "tapped the west" in a significant fashion.

"Many sports before you have tried to tap the west of Sydney and failed" interjects Caro twice because the boom-mic didn't get to her the first time, to which Graeme claims that options include the Swans moving west or a 'new' team (i.e North) basing themselves at the Olympic Stadium. The Sydney Showgrounds are surprisingly absent in this discussion.

Damien asks if it has to be a relocation or could it be a new team, to which the panel to a man decide on relocation. Samuel suggests creating a team afresh is too difficult - imagine if you also totally stuffed the draft and salary cup up to get them going as well? He then joins in the 'bury North' fun by all but suggesting they'll be off to Sydney soon.

Remarkably not one person tried to change the topic, so as Wallsy explains that "we're almost at half time" (because it's a footy summit you see) we go to our second break.


Generic elevator rock music brings us back for Robert to read a joke off the auto-cue and finally throw to the home viewer for...

Topic 7 - Docklands: Are footy fans getting the shaft?

Henry suggests that he's got two questions, and does a far better job at remembering them without having to consult a card than the idiots you see on Q and A. The first is the increase in cost for going to the footy at Docklands. He's heard a hot rumour that you won't be able to bring your own food into the ground. Wayne Jackson denies it, but somewhere stadium management were taking notes ready to implement the exact same policy a few years later.

Mike Sheahan then butts in on poor Henry, trying to ask his own question and is rightfully abused by the rest of the panel for his bare faced cheek. The much maligned Mark Davis finally comes into his own by telling Mike off in no uncertain terms for this outrageous behaviour.

Once he finally manages to get a word in Henry is concerned that the letter he's received from the league about his AFL membership states that conditions will "change slightly" and he's worried that this will mean you only get access to the ground if you're in the "gold medallion club". In not so many words Henry asks whether this is a screwjob for AFL members who originally supported the concept of selling Waverley and building the Corporate Dome - but as Henry is a diplomat he says "misinformed". 

Wayne brings up the fact that the ground while be theirs in 25 years, which must have sounded like tremendous bullshit back then but doesn't seem so far away now but what he should have said was "Henry, your family is half Melbourne/half St Kilda, how often do you think you won't be able to just walk in, scan your membership and have your pick of half the stadium?"

We're then treated to Walls attempting to deliver a zinger on Sheahan but failing due to the most deadpan delivery this side of Elliot Goblet. It does get more laughs than most of the attempted jokes throughout the evening, but people always find things so much more amusing when it's belittling someone else.

Mike's got more questions about Colonial Stadium, including how much it's going to cost to get in, to which Wayne quite rightly points out that it's May 31 so how in god's name do you want him to answer. Trevor Grant's not taking that well and is demanding answers but the CEO points out again that they don't set the prices until August and that people should be able to walk up for around $13.50 (!) most weeks.

Topic 7a - Reserved seating (but they go back to talking about Docklands five seconds later)

Following on the time honoured "are fans getting the shaft?" question we have the debate about reserved seats at Optus Oval and Kardinia Park. Apparently an "18-year-old girl and her boyfriend" (why did we need to know that much detail?) went to Princes Park and got told they could either stand for $13.50 or sit for $27. They went home and talkback outrage ensued. Wayne admits that the league needs to have some control over seating prices (as opposed to general admission) but refuses to be drawn on a potential maximum price for seating.

Graeme wants to ensure that if somebody shows up minutes before the game and there are 15,000 seats free that they can buy a ticket and walk in - Graeme obviously didn't pass this wish on to the management of Docklands in its first year where getting to the front of a ticket line was like climbing Mt Everest.

Michael tries another gag with similar results and we've not heard from Joyce for a while.

Trevor is worried about car parking. Waverley's got shitloads, the MCG has got a bit, Docklands has stuff all and the average punter won't be able to get in. The future head of the ACCC Samuel decides that the amount of parking spots at Waverley is actually a bad thing because it causes traffic snarls (perhaps do a redesign once or twice a decade?), suggests that people will be able to park their car in the city and practically does an ad for Yarra Trams by listing all the ways you can get there to the stadium on one. In response to the suggestion that these parks will cost a fortune he claims that the market will dictate lower prices on weekends and at nights when they are otherwise empty. Huddo, fresh from getting his L's, challenges this assertion and suggests that it'll be $7 or $8 minimum in the city on a Friday night.

IT'S JOYCE! Wallsy has to play her in again, and she comes out flying with the "family viewpoint", asking how "friendly" the Docklands area is and whether "ordinary people" can feel safe there. I don't remember much of Docklands pre-2000 but I'm sure it wasn't the epicentre of gang warfare in Melbourne. Samuel tries to take her off on a tangent about it being a "user friendly stadium" but Joyce is having none of it and demands to know about "the surrounds" and "where women will have to go." The irony being that most of the time you're probably better off hanging around violent criminals than footy fans. Graeme soothes her terror by painting a picture of the ground like it's the most fantastic place on earth and will cure cancer before she gives herself away as an ideologue by pointing out how much she loves Waverley.

Change averse Joyce feels bad for the people of the east who will have to battle their way across town, clearly showing no interest in the feelings of people in Geelong and the west who must have been loving the fact that they no longer had to do a 400km round trip to Mulgrave.

Another gag from Michael falls flat because the microphone's elsewhere but we can reasonably assume based on past evidence that it wouldn't have been funny anyway.

Back from a break Robert reads out that "it's... harder managing this group.. than the Victorian team on Saturday" and Caro fakes a smile so hard that she later required re-constructive surgery.


Topic 8 - Women's issues in footy

The source of Caro's glee becomes clear as she's given the next question and uses it to fireball the league's executive for not marketing the game to women. She says her six-year-old son isn't going to be as tough as Joyce's son, which is weird, and suggests she won't let him play a game where he can be shirtfronted. This somehow segues into the fact that the AFL has a five or six person marketing department before she realises she's asked about nine questions in one and asks them to focus on the one about women.

Not surprisingly Wayne denies these charges and harks back for the 5000th time tonight to New South Wales, quoting research that says parents are encouraging their kids to play AFL because it's "safe" like soccer. "And safe it is" says Wayne, not 40 minutes after we discussed Byron Pickett hitting somebody so hard they're still picking bits of him out of Waverley Park.

Joyce calls bullshit on Wayne's research, suggesting that even though it's not what he was actually talking about that injuries are "as high as rugby", and then turns the clock back to take another shot at Miller for his ill-fated gag earlier in the evening. Greg hasn't been heard from since the North to Sydney discussions, which is not surprising as he appears to have been placed in a straight jacket


Parko's lost interest too, but both of them might have perked up immediately after as Caro complains that the only woman in the league's own I'd Like To See That campaign (which looking back is the most 90's thing this side of Kriss Kross) is talking "ABOUT SEX!" Sadly Richard Colless manages to neatly sidestep the question and not turn it into a Footy Show style festival of sexism and misogyny.

Topic 9 - The national competition

Damien Agent is sick to death of hearing about Victoria and New South Wales, and he wants to know if these same issues are valid everywhere else. He obviously wasn't paying much attention in 1999 if he thinks the AFL give a rats about any place in the world other than Sydney.

Topic 10 - How the competition is run

That comes to a swift halt as we get back to the journos. After some playful banter between Connolly and Walls the man from The Age suggests the league doesn't have any credibility due to having five different finals systems in 11 years and bags the draw for being unequal. "Why hasn't the AFL paid closer attention to these issues?" he demands.

Not surprisingly puppet-master Samuel doesn't accept that the game is being run badly, before Wayne chips in with some 'poor me' style comments about how "we're just a group of people trying our best to run a national competition" - which is significantly more humility than Andrew D (who hasn't been heard from for 30+ minutes) ever showed.

Parko's having none of it either, suggesting that the AFL has "brilliantly" engineered an even competition. Huddo also chips in with a swing at Rohan, pointing out that the league has expanded three times in 11 years so of course they've changed the finals system. He quite sensibly refuses to accept Rohan's position that luck plays too large a part in winning premierships and calls on the league to shorten the length of the game and asks to increase the interchange.

If Parko wasn't having any of Rohan, Joyce isn't having any of Parko, abusing him for his claims of equality. He gives her nothing and she turns on Wayne instead, suggesting that even in "the back blocks of Woolamakanka" each team plays each other twice. I think this is the reason why I never listened to the footy on 3LO.

Thankfully Collo is here to inject some sense into the debate (note: we've got 15 minutes left and not one person has potted the playing style) by pointing out that Melburnians don't know how good we've got it (in 1999 at least) and that it's the only sport that has developed a true national competition. What about the NBL? They even had a team in Hobart.

Topic 11 - Wallsy spins the wheel

Out of nowhere he goes for a host's question, asking what a 15 or 16 year old coming into league football needs these days even though the start of the show was spent pointing out that 15 and 16 year olds aren't allowed to play. Parkin is polite enough not to point that out and suggests that as expected the demands are much larger than they were 20 years previous. He then takes a wide-ranging pot shot by suggesting that "half the people who watch, and half the people who write about it don't understand" what goes into getting a team up - a suggestion that doesn't go down well in some sections of the audience:


He then decries the elimination of the "natural footballer" who would have gotten a game for every team in his day but now doesn't because the game is strictly for athletes. He then responds to a question from Patrick Smith, who has just woken up, with a science lesson about why players should be doing 'other' things outside of footy. The director gets confused and during the response cuts to the camera on the player agent guy who is doing nothing because he didn't ask it in the first place.

Topic 12 - TV rights

Patrick's all-fired up now, asking how significant the TV rights will be and bringing up talk of splitting up the rights. "What can we expect from the new TV deal?" he asks, then interrupts Wayne with another question before the CEO can answer. "It's not about dollars" says Wayne, sitting down so his pants can't catch fire.

Topic 13 - Wayne Carey's contract

Mike asks Greg if The King will get $1m a year in his next contract. Greg would be happy to answer that if he wasn't under such heavy sedation.


He's awake enough to point out to Mike that he himself has voted Carey the #1 player in the competition four years in a row so of course he deserves a significant contract. Remember the days when you actually had to be good to be amongst the best paid players in the league?

Chief Footy Writer Michael Davis then asks how long Wayne can play for due to his chronic groin injuries, but this may be another barely detectable joke as Greg points out it's the first soft tissue injury Carey has ever had.

Parko cracks the best gag of the night in response to a bullshit hypothetical from Trevor about being at Docklands in R22 2000 when he harks back to the earlier discussion and says: "I hope I'll get a seat." The question ends up pre-invoking the spirit of Brad Scott and asking about whether the roof should be closed or not. Wayne says the policy on the roof is like the ticket prices and he hasn't come up with it yet.

Wallsy throws to the final break and thank christ because this post has taken me about five times longer than write than it would have to just watch the show.

Topic 14 - What will be the most significant achievement in the next 12 months in football or what will be the biggest issue

That one was pure Walls. He then proceeds to confuse the issue by asking Wayne Jackson about the "last 12 months" instead.

Wayne: TV rights

Graeme: Selling Waverley and the roof at Docklands. Somebody (possibly Rohan) heckles him for the second one, unaware it would still be a hot issue 15 years later.

Richard: Consolidation of the game in its heartland and genuine growth in NSW/Queensland

Greg: Whether North gets to play the first home game at Homebush or the Swans.

Andrew: How players and the public perceive Docklands and the TV rights.

David: That the media will acknowledge that we have the greatest game in the world and won't be writing it down (YES! FOR GOD'S SAKE PLEASE IMPORTANT '99 PARKIN INTO 2014) and that we'll have done something about players jumping on the ball while it's on the ground (finally - with five minutes to go the game has finally copped it)

In a completely unplanned switch Walls then goes to the panel of experts, and thank god it means we're going to hear from the home viewer again:

Patrick: Development up north and the development of the northern stand at the MCG

Mike: Brisbane establishing itself as a power. Then he pisses around with the format and asks Colless a question about Tony Lockett. If this means we don't get to hear from Monkus...

Caro: TV rights and if Parko will coach in 2001. She asks him a question as well. There's 3.30 left and it's not looking good for Monkus.

Trevor: How much it costs to get into Docklands and that coaches should start telling the truth to the media

Rohan: First non-Victorian Grand Final and "Football Feedback emerging as a top rating program" (which implies nobody was watching it at the time)

MONKUS!: What Melbourne's penalty will be for breaching the cap and has he recovered from us winning the flag. Good work Henry, tell your kids to get stuffed.

Huddo: Docklands and Geelong winning the flag

Joyce: Banning the shirtfront and reviving football in the metropolitan and country areas

Damien: No shirtfront and Brisbane winning the flag

Michael: Opens with a gag (which fails) then suggests Eddie McGuire steps down as president of Collingwood because they've only one two gags and Ross Oakley takes over. Not sure if this was a gag too but he gets his biggest laughs of the night so I hope it was.

We're then told "there's a lot coming up on C7", which gives us the chance to enjoy their program line-up in its entirety:


Apparently Stan will be back, which highlights the fact that they gave him the arse for the summit. And.. oh that was it. Due to the fact that they don't have anything else to fill the last 30 seconds Robert identifies the one guy amongst the journos who can talk shit for Australia and asks Patrick what we've got out of tonight. Surprise surprise Sydney got a mention...

And that's it. Time for the votes

Lou Richards Medal for Best on Ground
5 -  David Parkin (educated, incisive, sensible)
4 - Wayne Jackson (took the brunt of the hard stuff)
3 - Caroline Wilson (decidedly brutal)
2 - Greg Miller (laconic performance did not go unnoticed)
1 - Joyce Brown (strident)

Thanks for your time, normal programming will resume on the weekend (unlike the late C7 Sport). And remember - if you have a truckload of VHS cassettes in your garage and you're not scouring them for the best content you can find to upload to YouTube you need to have a good hard look at yourself.

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