Not too many blokes have weighed into
the David Hookes debate, but a couple of female columnists offered up
contrasting views over the weekend. Miranda Devine adopted the mainstream view in herSydney Sun-Herald column that the media shouldn’t have made Hookes sound like a saint. The key points were as follows:

None of this would be particularly newsworthy if it hadn’t
been for all the over-the-top myth-making after Hookes’s death,
promoting his “Brady Bunch life”. Nor is it likely Padfield and the
others would have felt the need to speak out. It was a classic boys’
club fraud perpetrated on the public by Hookesy’s well-meaning media
“mates”.

But for all their good intentions, they ended up doing
him a disservice. Even Mother Teresa had her critics, yet we were
supposed to believe Hookes was a saint, more talented than Bradman, and
a devoted family man. It’s not as if the dignified Robyn Hookes was
demanding lies be told. She sent a deliberate message by staying in the
stands during the funeral service at the Adelaide Oval rather than
taking a lead role.

But as Melbourne sports commentator Warwick Hadfield told Australian Story:
“The public reaction to David’s death was over the top… And, at that
particular time, all you were going to do was get your head bitten off
if you said anything other than David Hookes was better than Bradman
and probably better than God as well.”

It was not so unreasonable that Hookes’s employers at 3AW painted him
positively given the relationship and the emotive nature of radio. But
3AW did broadcast Derryn Hinch’s alternative views, when he revealed
one of the “other women.” The real offender was the Herald Sun, which still hasn’t come to terms with its misleading portrait of Hookes as a happily married and devoted family man.

Sunday Herald Sun
columnist Robyn Riley launched a major attack on Christine Padfield and
Hookes’s brother Terry in yesterday’s paper. This is the same Robyn
Riley who completely misled the public with lines like the following on
22 February last year:

Twisting his wedding ring that she now wears on her middle
finger, Mrs Hookes said the family could not have lived with
themselves, knowing how he felt about organ donation, if they had not
agreed to allow him to become a donor.

She was supposed to have
gone to Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula, earlier that day, but changed
her plans and decided instead to drive to the family holiday house with
her husband the next morning.

“I had been very restless for some
reason, tossing and turning in bed. It was just before 1am,” she said.
“I knew David would be celebrating the win” (Hookes coached the
Bushrangers, who had defeated South Australia in a one-day game in
Melbourne that day).

“He always left a message on the phone to
let me know where he was. He did that for more than 20 years, whether
he was here or overseas.”

Doesn’t that suggest Hookes was still married, still living with Robyn
and was expected home that night? The truth is that he had moved out,
was initiating divorce proceedings and was expecting Padfield to stay
with him in his flat on the night of his death after drinking with him
and a group of players at the Beaconsfield Hotel. The other woman then
corrects the distorted record in Australian Story,
and Riley has the temerity to write a column declaring she was
“saddened” by Padfield’s performance and the program was “gratuitous,
uninspiring and lacking heart.”

Robyn, you should have followed
your own advice for Padfield and maintained a dignified silence. Your
fawning pieces on Hookes were perhaps the worst of anything produced.
Perhaps you should heed the advice of your News Ltd colleague Sandra
Lee, who wrote the following in her Sunday Telegraph column
yesterday: “Can we please stop lionising the late cricket great as a
family man? His problem wasn’t, like many blokes, committing – it was
over-committing.”