“Why you, Caro? There’s vitriol there, why?”
So asked 3AW’s Ross Stevenson this morning of award-winning, trailblazing football journalist Caroline Wilson, after she has been subjected yet another attack from one of her peers in the upper echelons of the AFL media. Wilson’s answer reveals more about Collingwood president and broadcaster Eddie McGuire, who joked on Triple M last week that he would pay $50,000 for Wilson to be drowned:
“I wrote a column a few weeks ago, Ross, that I thought was very fair, although I don’t think Eddie would’ve liked it, that perhaps it was time, for all the great work that Eddie has done as Collingwood president, that he started thinking about a succession plan …”
“He was clearly very unhappy with the column. I think he feels that I burnt him. I think that was a word he used.”
What was the column that that got under McGuire’s skin so badly that he had to joke about drowning a journalist? This one from May, when Wilson called McGuire “attention-seeking” and criticised him for making Collingwood’s on-field woes all about him. It ended thus:
“This is not a McGuire-bashing exercise. He has made errors over his 18 years but whenever he does leave the club he will leave his legacy in tact, having rebuilt Collingwood in every sense and will go down as one of the all-time great club presidents. He will be an impossible act to follow.
“But 18 years is a long time. Perhaps when McGuire does depart or maybe even before, the Magpies should take a look at repeating what Jeff Kennett did at Hawthorn. In changing the Hawks’ constitution, that club ensured that every board leader must be given a use-by date. Because no one should ever be bigger than their football club.”
By Wilson’s standards, it’s a gentle note. She has never been afraid to call out leaders in the football world and tell them when to walk away. The AFL, and the media in general, needs more reporters like Wilson, who break stories and regularly bring sport from the back page to the front page. We don’t need more Eddie McGuires.