Australian Rules commentary is an area which seems to cater for anyone these days. Any ex-player is dressed up in a suit, given a background lesson on Presto and a handbook of useless facts and let loose and more often than not it ends in disaster. Egos clash, facts are discarded and we are happy to mute the TV.
It hasn’t always been that way, and isn’t always the case. Some commentators have provided us with the perfect soundtrack to footy and what I wouldn’t give to get this crew. This is not about picking those that were always right but about picking the mix of commentators who knew it wasn't about them, knew the game and understood that as human's we can watch the screen and want something extra from the commentary.
Is it too much to ask that we get something beyond a first -year player being called a champion or a star, or that you cant possibly like the way half the competition 'goes about it', or that player X 'would be someone to take into the trenches'. At its core footy remains a simple game, so why do so many who commentate make it seem so hard? Without further ago, here is The Dream Team
He was simply the best. Grybas was accurate, agile and upbeat and looked as though he genuinely enjoyed what he was doing. I am not talking about ‘dress me in a suit and I will force a smile out’ enjoyment, but unbridled enthusiasm coupled with an incredible ability to not just tell us what we were seeing on screen. His sudden death at age 32 was a tragedy as he was taken far too soon. He made Fox Footy what it was with the fantastic White Line Fever back in the early days and is sorely missed in today’s landscape of nine games and numerous incapable talking heads.
Before commercialisation took over and it was the plain old VFL, all games were on Saturday afternoon. If you missed them, then that was bad luck unless you caught The Winners which gave you the wrap of all six games in a highlight package. When you talk The Winners, you talk Drew Morphett. An all-round commentary star, Morphett was the voice of the ABC Grandstand until 2014 and was never short of an opinion. As a footy commentator, that made him fantastic to listen to and while he ruffled a few feathers he was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his commentary feats in 2014. He has made a comeback with The Winners Rebooted of late, and it has been a trip down memory lane. By his own admission http://pakenham.starcommunity.com.au/gazette/2014-01-29/drews-golden-tongue/ he struggled with Aussie Rules early on but fixed those problems and has left an indelible mark on the industry.
Probably the most controversial selection, and here for his ability to throw out the most perfectly timed comment that has become part of footy folklore. On the day that the VFL was forever a historical footnote came probably his greatest moments at the 1:30 mark of this clip
And who could forget this one
He has made a comeback of late and has his own show on Fox Footy - Saturday's are better with Sandy at the helm. Amongst this company, we would only need a couple of one-liners from old Sandy.
On field Brown was as courageous as there has been in the modern era. This mark is legendary and he retired because he risked serious damage if he took another head knock. As a television personality he calls it as he sees it. He was a natural leader on-field and that aspect of his personality stands out in his broadcasting. He has no problems calling anyone out, even the best of the best and is comfortable enough in his own commentating skin that he simply offers value rather than trying to entertain.
Sitting alongside Brown is his good mate Ling. As a player, he developed into one of the great stoppers of his time despite his early career having more than its fair share of speed bumps including the 0:50 minute mark of this video
As a commentator he is honest, clear and doesn’t pull any punches. Like Brown, he doesn’t need to increase his profile by making ridiculous calls but simply calls the game and adds value. With nothing to prove and no agenda, we simply hear the thoughts of one of today’s best footy minds every time he speaks.
So that is the commentary dream team, if only we could get these five together to commentate on this year’s Grand Final
With the good comes the bad and unfortunately the other end of the commentary spectrum sees, maybe we will leave that chat for another day.