Tim Webster from Sports Tonight is one of the most annoying commentators on television and The Footy Banter Team have named The Websters in his honor. Check out which of our sporting brethren won the gongs this year.

As the football world heads towards the season’s climax on that one day in September, the footy industry is beside itself in handing out its annual gongs. The Brownlow, the AFLPA MVP, the Norwich Rising Star, the Dimboola Thirds’ Best Clubman award and now the award that no self-respecting footy hack wants – The Webster Medal.

The Webster Medal was struck in 1996 by the Footy Banter Team, a group of witty individuals who congregate to discuss the intricate and/or humorous historical and contemporary aspects of Australian Rules Football.

The Webster Medal honours those individuals in the media who have made a significant contribution to the coverage of Australian Rules Football for all the wrong reasons. Named after the doyen of Australian Rules reporting, Tim Webster of Channel Ten’s “Sports Tonight”, the Webster Medal is awarded to the individual who has committed the most embarrassing Australian Rules gaffe in their coverage of our great sport.

The Footy Banter Team have put the media under the microscope all year and have compiled a list of clangers to rival the much-maligned Jayson Daniels’ worst stats sheets.

The FBT’s complete list of Webster Medal nominations for season 2000 can be viewed at the FBT’s website: http://www.angelfire.com/ok/footybanter/

It is now our pleasure to announce this year’s winner. But first, in the best awards ceremony tradition

That Was The Season That Was

Season 2000 saw its fair share of media hacks throwing their hats into the ring to make the most uninformed, bizarre and just plain stupid comment on Australian Rules football.

Tongue Tied

As usual, the Freudian slip was often the ugliest killer of journos’ AFL credibility. Jim Waley immolated himself on the “Sunday” program when he referred to Collingwood as “Hollywood” – he tried his best to snuff the flames but he was a raging inferno in that instant of insanity.

Sandy Roberts from Channel 7 was another fatality when he announced that “Steven Rode, the 19 year old ruckman for Hawthorn who is playing his first senior game for Hawthorn is coming onto the ground, replacing Salmon. Steven turned 20 last Thursday and we wish him well.”

We shouldn’t have too hard a dig at Sandy because he is the FBT’s second-favourite commentator (behind Dennis Commetti of course). But we can’t ignore his comment on the Aboriginal flags being painted on every AFL ground in recognition of the “Recreation March” over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And not quite showing the silky skills with the microphone that he used to show on the field during his playing days, Channel 7’s Richard Osborne noted that a streaky soccered goal to Melbourne’s Travis Johnstone was “more a stroke of good luck than good fortune”.

1 + 1 = 3?

Rudimentary arithmetic also proved the undoing of many an Aussie Rules hack. Channel 7’s Mark Baretta, interviewing Ben Graham after Geelong’s Round 7 victory over Sydney, said “You must be pretty happy being 7 & 1, Ben?”

Graham, a proponent of the FBT’s “taking it one week at a time” principle, sent it back faster than one of his kick outs from full back: “We’re not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves Mark, so we’re happy with being 6 & 1 at this stage.”

The Bombers’ winning streak also tested the abacus skills of many a footy hack. Chris McAsey on the AFL website reported that the Bombers had a 13-0 record after Round 12, while Des Dowling on “Sportsworld” reported in his Round 17 wrap-up that the Bombers had recorded their 18th consecutive win.

Des’ stablemate, Drew Morphett, commentating on a Bulldogs game, noted that “(Simon) Garlick’s kicked 5 goals today – 2 in the first quarter, 1 in the second and 3 in the third”.

Meanwhile, Craig Willis gave the FBT a special Websterism during the FBT’s Convention 7 at Colonial in Round 21 when he announced that “the Swans with 5.2 to quarter time have had 5 individual goalkickers – 2 to O’Loughlin, and singles to…”

Back to school, the lot of you!

Accountability

Footy journos have a strange trait of imposing standards of accountability on players far greater than they seem to impose on themselves.

Chip Le Grand from The Australian reported that Ben Holland “failed to exert an influence at any stage of the afternoon” in the game between Hawthorn and Sydney – not surprising considering that Ben plays for Richmond.

The Australian’s Kevin Jones also put the blowtorch to the belly of West Coast’s Michael Braun when he reported that “with doubts over the future of Morrison, Fraser Gehrig and Michael Braune (sic) – the last two unsighted yesterday – Judge may face some tough decisions” We think Jones was a bit harsh to sink the slipper into a bloke who was out with a knee injury!

And Radio 3UZ’s Simon O’Donnell explained the Kangaroos’ last-quarter fade-outs by saying that “the Careys, the Blakeys, the Crockers – these guys are getting on and are found to be leg-weary towards the end of the game”. Crocks must be doing some tough work up there in the Tigers’ coaching box.

Twilight Zone

Some footy hacks just seem to be out there in a strange parallel universe that resembles ours but something just ain’t quite right

Dave Carlson of the “Today Show” got in early in the season in the “what duck are you smoking?” stakes when he reported that “debutant Adam Yze was one of 10 goalkickers for the Demons”. It’s not often that you find a debutant with 94 games under their belt (as Yze had at the time Dave put this clanger out on the full.)

Scott Palmer reported on Channel 7’s Sunday footy panel that “Greg Miller and Alan Schwab” were likely to be passed over for the AFL head of operations position, as Andrew Demetriou firmed in betting to get the gig. Schwabby would be turning in his grave to find out that he’d been passed over for another job at the AFL!

John Longmire from Channel 7’s Gameday occasionally had you wondering what game he was commenting on. During an Eagles – Blues match, he noted that “if Carlton is going to get back into this match, Whitnall is going to have to find more of the footy”, even though the Blues were already well ahead at that stage.

And Johnny was definitely off with the pixies when he commented that “there’s a clever tap to Burgoyne who strolls in and kicks a goal” – right when we see footage of the ball slewing off the side of Burgoyne’s boot and into the big splinter, followed by the goal umpire slapping the woodwork.

Possibly the most “out there” remark of the year came from Jimmy Stynes, who may have had a couple of Guinnesses when he said “I only think of it as a centre clearance when you actually take the ball outside of the centre square, so I just think of an imaginary line across the ground”. Stop imagining Jimmy – it’s painted on the turf!

With Friends Like These

Unfortunately for some Websterists, their colleagues were only too quick to nail them on their errors.

Brad Boyd on ABC radio noted that “Colin” Croft was one of the better players for the Bulldogs. When the other commentators picked him up on this, he explained that “I knew I did it, I just didn’t want to insult the intelligence of our listeners by correcting myself”. Whilst a very innovative excuse, Boydy, that is a Webster.

And when Brian Taylor mentioned that “Port Melbourne had never beaten West Coast”, Michael Voss coolly pounced on his mistake and slotted through a six-pointer with “I’m not surprised Port Melbourne have never beaten West Coast”.

When BT couldn’t believe that his fellow panellists didn’t correct him, Steve Quartermain joked “everyone was laughing at you and I was enjoying it!”

Stick to Your Day Job

Some hacks are thrown into the spotlight when they clearly have no footy credentials at all like our old mate Timmy Webster himself.

One who was obviously a fish out of water this year was John Deeks, who was given the Colonial Stadium ground announcer’s duties one Friday night in the absence of Craig Willis.

“Deeksy” was churning through the Bomber social notes when it came to the testimonial dinner for FBT favourite, Darren Bewick.

Not once, not twice, but three times he referred to him as one of Essendon’s favorite sons Darren “Berwick” (pronounced the same way as the outer eastern suburb of Melbourne). He finished off with “Make sure you are there to honour this Bomber legend Darren Berwick”.

And the Winners Are

As you can see from the above snippets from the FBT’s Webster file, season 2000 has provided plenty of embarrassing moments for members of the footy media. But there are a few who stood head and shoulders above their peers this year.

The Archimedes Award for Mathematical Excellence goes to the SCG Scoreboard Operator(s), who in the Swans v Tigers match noted that Brad Ottens had kicked “Season goals – 13; Career Goals – 5”.

The Norwich Rising Star Award goes to John Longmire, who – aided and abetted by his dud Gameday colleagues Tony Shaw and Todd Viney – perfected that “stunned rabbit in the headlights” look when he was staring down the camera and realised he’d made another clanger.

The George Donikian Award for Clarity in Pronunciation of Difficult Foreign Names goes to Tony Lockett, who somehow managed to turn “Yze” into “Why-zay”. Mind you, none of the lads in the FBT are in any particular hurry to deliver the award to big Plugger in person.

And The Webster Medal Goes To

With so many quality entries, it’s been difficult for the FBT to single out a winner. But in a tightly packed field, the astute judges have plucked out Jim Waley from Channel 9’s “Sunday” program, for his effort in noting that “in Adelaide last night, Port Adelaide handed an eighth straight loss to Hollywood…errr Collingwood”.

There were so many redeeming qualities to Jim’s entry that attracted the judges’ attention. First, in the best Webster Medal tradition, it showed a distinct lack of knowledge of Aussie Rules. Secondly, it undermined the Magpies’ sense of self-importance. And finally, it proved once and for all that footy does not belong on Sunday.

THE FOOTY BANTER TEAM