It surely is a sad state of affairs when the best decision you can make for the weekend is to go to the movies to see Eric Bana in “Lucky You” rather than watching the footy. For a long time the footy at the weekend has been a staple part of my visual diet, but on the weekend just past, I found it to be time to fast.

The previous weekend I was at a house warming gathering and I plonked myself down on the couch in front of the TV at the very start of the evening in preparation for the game. The match that Channel 10 was covering was St Kilda versus Sydney. Now, I must say, I had my doubts about the excitement level this game would produce, in the most part because of Sydney. St Kilda have in recent years, with their tall forwards and hard runners in the midfield and backline, proven to be an enjoyable watch, so I thought that there was still some fair possibility that an enjoyable spectacle might occur. I was wrong.

Ross Lyon was a courageous, tough footballer who I remember quite well. He was loved by the Fitzroy fans and respected by the general football public for his endeavour in trying circumstances;

he did, after all, play for Fitzroy. The same sentiments are not felt for him for his coaching. The game was excruciatingly dull with neither team prepared to attack, instead spending the vast majority of their time attempting to ensure the other team could not score.

I can remember one moment from the actual match. It was a terrific, courageous mark by Nick Riewoldt running straight back into a pack of players. It got me to say, “Whoa!” and actually feel some kind of exhilaration from watching the contest. Unfortunately, he took the mark in defence, so he was not rewarded for his skill and courage with a shot at goal. Right there is the problem, Nick Riewoldt was in defence, when any coach worth his salt would have his best player, amongst the best forwards in the league, playing in attack. I’m sure Lyon could site some strategic reason why he would be there, but I don’t care, he’s got it wrong. A player of Riewoldt’s calibre should be taking those marks in dangerous positions and that’s final.

Eventually the siren went and my mate Boy, a Bulldogs supporter who’s played his whole life and loves the game, said, “Well, thank God that’s over.” Unfortunately for poor Boy it was only three quarter time and he had to endure another quarter! When I informed him of this a loud moan went throughout the room and I realised that footy’s in a sorry state.

It’s fair to say that I wasn’t exactly impressed with what I saw of the St Kilda versus Sydney match. So when I saw that the only team I could watch on Saturday night the next week was the Saints (I can’t get Foxtel because I have trees near my house, but that’s another story), I thought it an opportune time to go and do something else, namely, go to the movies. I enjoyed it; Bana showed good dash, Drew Barrymore was sparkling early but couldn’t hold her form, veteran Robert Duvall showed glimpses of what made him a champion and there was some good contested poker.

Apparently, at the same time as I saw Barrymore strut her stuff on the big screen, something much less attractive was on display at the MCG. I received a text message from my brother Marty that was pretty hard to misinterpret. It simply said, “Worst game of footy ever.” When I got out of the cinema I hurried to the car and switched on the radio, eager for more information to vindicate my decision to watch Hollywood attempt to make poker look interesting. ‘It’ was all over the radio as I feared. ‘What was it?’ you might ask. Anger. Anger from the announcers on SEN, anger from the people ringing in, just a heap of anger that something so cherished as football could be so ruined by two blokes who don’t even play.

I allowed myself the slight smile of the vindicated, it was proven, my entertainment choice was justified, but deep down I felt concern. I spoke to Marty the next day and he told me that as soon as Robert Harvey retires he will never watch another St Kilda game ever again. His reaction was possibly a little drastic, but I feel similar to him, except I will never watch them play so long as Ross Lyon is their coach. Marty is a Robert Harvey nut, and when we spoke about him it made me think. Harvey has played league footy for 20 years, he has played in the VFL and the AFL, he has kicked to Tony Lockett and Trevor Barker as he now kicks to Fraser Gehrig and Nick Riewoldt, but I wonder how much he still enjoys the game. I wonder which era he would prefer to watch and to play during?

I have a feeling I know the answer, but I can’t put words in his mouth. He struggles to put words in his mouth, so I can’t do that, but it is certainly interesting to think of the changes to the game that have been seen through that one man’s eyes. He’s been in losing teams and winning teams before, St Kilda are somewhat of a yoyo when it comes to the ladder, but they have always been an exciting team prepared to attack. I wonder if he has ever been in a boring team before now? Could Nicky Winmar have played in a boring team? Probably, if Nick Dal Santo can then why not Nicky? Whatever the situation with Harvey, it’s a pity that his achievements are being over-shadowed by the insipid ideas of his coach.

Yep, I had a brief smile but felt mostly concern. Why wouldn’t I? It is a worry when the best football you see on Friday night is the minute’s worth of old footage Channel 7 plays to conclude their telecast. It annoys me that I can see that minute of Trevor Barker and Alex Jesaulenko and Gary Ablett taking spectacular marks when the two hours of footy before that left me feeling empty. It was disturbing last year that I, a Richmond supporter, would have rathered the Tigers lost against Adelaide than won by playing the way they did. It is a true shame that I would rather go to the movies than watch a legend of our game play in, most likely, his last season.

I didn’t like what I saw when Ross Lyon locked horns with Paul Roos. Anyone who saw that “contest” and wasn’t completely blinded by the colours on the ground wouldn’t blame me for that. Nor would I blame them if they told me that, rather than watching Ross Lyon attempt to make football some kind of science lesson against another Negative Nelly in Alistair Clarkson they were going to go watch Eric Bana play cards in “Lucky You”. People do, after all, want to be entertained and will search for the next best thing if that which they tried does not do it for them. It’s a shame that “Lucky You” could be considered a better form of entertainment to a football loving Melbournian than a footy match featuring two Victorian teams, but that’s the way it is heading.

What’s to be done about it? Well, like I said, I’m a Richmond supporter, so I say sack the coach!

Article written by Greg Gibson from