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It's not Caroline Wilson, but Eddie, James and Danny who need to go

Even the once polished Eddie McGuire has been faltering. Does this speak to the culture at Collingwood? (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Expert
20th June, 2016
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4252 Reads

The famous playwright and author Oscar Wilde once wrote, “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

And so it is with The Age‘s Chief Football writer, Walkley Award-winning journalist Caroline Wilson.

Now before you get outraged, let me explain.

More:
» Sport and our attitudes towards women
» All talk, no action from Gill and the AFL on violence against women
» When it comes to respect, window dressing is not enough
» Fantasising about murdering Caroline Wilson, on live radio
» Get the story straight about Eddie

There has been uproar in the media about comments made by Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, North Melbourne president James Brayshaw, and All Australian selector Danny Frawley at a fund-raising event at the MCG last week.

The “banter” – as McGuire has described it – basically took the form of saying they’d pay lots of money for Wilson to be held underwater. Some even suggested that they’d happily facilitate the result.

Erin Riley shone the spotlight on the incident. Miki Perkins in The Age followed it up.

Riley made a great point: “While McGuire and co were undoubtedly joking, the underlying attitude is dangerous: it reenforces the attitudes of those who are willing to take their hatred of women beyond a ‘bit of banter’.”

There are a lot of dumb people out there who hear the type of garbage that Brayshaw, McGuire and Frawley engaged in, and it actually affirms and emboldens their sexist views.

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As Miki Perkins put it, “A toxic boy’s club mentality is on regular ugly display [in the football media]…”

Before I go on I should disclose my allegiances:

1. I am a member of the Collingwood Social Club and a lifelong Magpies supporter. As such, I have been well disposed towards McGuire, who took us from the wooden spoon and broke in 1999 to the 2010 premiership and a very strong financial position.

2. I previously worked for the Nine Network and my interactions with McGuire during that time had me hold him in high esteem.

However, as much as I have loved and defended Eddie, these garbage incidents have started to become regular occurrences.

I know that in May 2013 he was desperately trying to make light of a horrible situation when he joked that Adam Goodes should promote ‘King Kong’. However, it just wasn’t a time to try and make light. And that wasn’t making light, it was throwing an incendiary.

The other day he was at an event to raise desperately needed funds for motor neurone disease. He, and a lot of other AFL celebrities, were riding on a slide into a pool of ice water to raise money. That was the good Eddie.

But the bad Eddie was right there overwhelming that good effort with his dreadful judgement and ‘banter’.

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Back in May, he shared that he had thought of quitting.

“You question yourself,” he said. “You have done this for 18 years, can you go through it again?”

That sentiment was chiefly in regard to Collingwood’s dire football fortunes. However, I’d urge Eddie to apply that now to his role as president of the Collingwood Football Club.

Eddie, can you go through another apology for a public gaffe? Do you even want to?

I have defended him time and again in public and private as a result of his great work for our club and the community at large – as well as me seeing him being a pretty decent bloke behind the closed doors at Nine.

This ‘banter’ has now finally put an end to that.

Ronan O’Connell recently wrote that Shane Warne was no longer his idol. I completely agree. While he is the best cricketer I’ve ever seen, he has proven himself to be a total jerk since his retirement, and I wish he’d just disappear from the public before he totally destroys his legacy of cricketing greatness.

I now feel the same way about Eddie. He is wearing away my respect and love for him. I can no longer draw from the good-will well anymore – his repeated actions have run me and others who have loved him dry.

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While Frawley and Brayshaw are equally as bad through their complicity and idiocy in this most recent matter, Eddie is a repeat offender.

Further, Eddie represents the biggest sporting club in Australia. There are hundreds of thousands of us. He is very fond of the sign off “Floreat Pica” which we take to mean as “Prosper the Magpie”.

How can we now prosper with Eddie at the helm? We were literally just awarded one of the first licences for a women’s AFL team and in almost the same breath our president publicly attacks one of this country’s best and most prominent football journalists, who also happens to be a woman.

Has it occurred to Eddie how monumentally stupid that was? Did the ‘King Kong’ experience teach him nothing at all?

And what exactly was he saying that was so bad about Caroline Wilson:

“She’ll burn you like everyone else, mate. She’s like the black widow. She just sucks you in and gets you and you start talking to her and then bang! She gets you.”

Gets you for what Eddie? What has Caro done exactly to you and “everyone else”?

Is it just that she has exposed the truth? Has tried to hold the game to high standards? In other words, has she been incredibly good at her job?

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If you and your laughing bros have some allegations that she has defamed you, take it to the courts.

However, if all she has done is to not show any deference whatsoever to what is clearly still a boofy, politically incorrect, boys club and attempt to hold those that run the game and the clubs to account, then I’m on Caro’s side.

And not because she is a woman, but because she is a superb journalist who clearly loves footy – just like I do.

Anybody with half a brain already knew that. This incident gives us a chance to put that fact up in lights.

And that is why I quote Oscar Wilde in relation to Caro. The fact that her name was raised in such a manner by these blokes suggests that she is very good at her job. They weren’t bagging her for being ditzy or a bimbo, they were bagging her because she has clearly had every one of their measures at least once. She is a heavy hitter.

You might not agree with everything she has written, but there is no support whatsoever for the notion that she is not an incredibly knowledgeable and intelligent AFL journalist.

Through their misguided and personally motivated ‘banter’, Eddie, Danny and James have shone the spotlight on the great Caroline Wilson in all her journalistic glory, and conversely exposed themselves as perhaps not the best candidates to take the game of AFL forward.

Caroline Wilson isn’t a meek little person who needs us to defend her. She is a mighty warrior who is more than a match for this kind of rubbish. She is a role model and trailblazer for the many women who are in, or aspiring to be in, the Australian sports media.

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Caro is also a role model for this fat, middle-aged bloke.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate her.