Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier in Beaconsfield, Eddie McGuire turned up last night to shout the bar. And, according to discussions in one bar, with a $6 million deal for the two rescued miners.

McGuire arrived at the Club Hotel before announcing that both the AFL and ARL versions of the Footy Show would broadcast from the town next week, including an appearance by Shannon Noll.

“I am coming out of retirement to one more Footy Show here in Beaconsfield,” McGuire announced. “Free drinks on me”.

“Lock it in Eddie,” was one local’s response.

It’s been rumoured that McGuire’s appearance and the Footy Show announcement is part of a lucrative PBL deal for the two miners believed to be worth around $3 million each. If correct, it would appear that Channel Nine has trumped cash-strapped Channel Seven, despite Brant Webb’s apparent friendship with David Koch from the Sunrise program.

Another surprise guest at the hotel was Todd Russell, who shared a drink and conversation with McGuire before retiring to the adjacent Empire Hotel in an attempt to avoid the media. Members of Russell’s entourage mentioned the $3 million figure during one of the biggest celebrations the town has ever seen.

A protective circle of friends and family surrounded Russell, with the miner more interested in catching up on football scores than discussing his ordeal. Russell refused repeated offers from patrons to buy him a beer. “Nah mate, I am not a beer drinker,” a bemused Russell responded as the beers piled up behind him. “Bourbon and Coke mate is more my thing.” Russell’s entourage concluded the evening with several shots of whiskey before leaving.

A clearly shattered Russell appeared to have some bruising on the back of his neck. His knee was propped up on a bar rail in an attempt to take some pressure off it after he was temporarily pinned following the rock fall.

Todd’s brother, Steve, said he didn’t mind celebrating with the media as long as they respected the family’s privacy. “It’s been a really tough couple of weeks for everyone involved with this.”

The miners are yet to reveal if any proceeds from the sale of their stories will go to the family of deceased miner Larry Knight or their rescuers.

Peter Fray

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