Brutal reality check in Footy Show fail
AFL greats Garry Lyon and Tim Watson have questioned what the future holds for The Footy Show in the face of fierce competition from rival Channel 7 program The Front Bar.
Last year The Front Bar's timeslot was moved earlier to 8.30pm, the same time as Channel 9's long-running Footy Show, and Channel 7 has largely been winning the battle for AFL audiences.
Hosted by broadcaster Andy Maher, media personality Sam Pang and comedian Mick Molloy, The Front Bar has regularly enjoyed better ratings. Two weeks ago it averaged 274,000 viewers in Melbourne - almost double that of The Footy Show.
The continued success of the new boy on the block - which mixes humour and serious footy chat while the hosts sit at a makeshift bar with beers in front of them - means Channel 9 faces an uphill battle to win back viewers.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast, Lyon said the program was heading "towards its swansong" and Watson said The Footy Show is losing the battle to stay relevant as more and more people tune in to The Front Bar.
"Let's not rewrite history, this was the biggest show in town for 20-odd years and it's probably coming towards its swansong," Lyon said. "There's a new boy on the block and good on them."
Watson added: "There was a time when everywhere you went, there were conversations about The Footy Show.
"Now, wherever I go, you know what the conversation is about? The Front Bar."
The Footy Show has gone through a rough patch in recent years. Lyon was a longtime co-host of the show but left Channel 9 after it emerged in late 2015 he was in a relationship with the ex-wife of friend and fellow Footy Show panellist Billy Brownless.
Rebecca Maddern became The Footy Show's first female host when she replaced Lyon before James Brayshaw left the program in 2016.
Craig Hutchison took his place but was sacked in 2017 and Eddie McGuire took over hosting duties.
Unfortunately for Channel 9, even McGuire's arrival hasn't been able to arrest the ratings slide.
EAGLES STARS' CHEEKY SLEDGE?
Former AFL star Campbell Brown believes West Coast players delivered a subtle sledge to Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley after a dramatic victory over the Power on Saturday night.
Jeremy McGovern kicked a goal after the siren to win the game for the Eagles and afterwards he and captain Shannon Hurn could be seen putting four fingers up as they celebrated with coach Adam Simpson.
Brown reckons the gesture referred to the Eagles' winning record over Port and was a dig at Hinkley, who celebrated wildly in the coach's box after an emotional win over cross-town rivals the Crows earlier this year. The Port mentor made a hand gesture signalling Adelaide's 5-0 record in Showdowns before the clash in May, then changed his hands to signify 1-0 - a reference to his side breaking the losing streak.
Asked on Channel 7's Talking Footy if McGovern and Hurn's four-finger salute was a direct reference to Hinkley's antics, Brown said: "No doubt about it.
"They actually should have said 5-0 because that's how many times the West Coast Eagles have gone to Adelaide Oval and knocked off Port."
SAINTS IN DAMAGE CONTROL
St Kilda veteran Nathan Brown will attempt to limit the damage when he fronts the AFL tribunal over the savage bump that left Essendon's Adam Saad concussed. The 29-year-old was referred directly to the tribunal after he caught Saad unawares with a heavy bump late in the first term of Friday night's clash at Etihad Stadium.
AFL match review officer Michael Christian assessed the contact as intentional conduct with high impact to the head.
With only two rounds left in the home-and-away season, Brown has almost certainly played his last game this year, but will be hoping his likely ban doesn't extend into the 2019 campaign.
Saints coach Alan Richardson defended Brown on Fox Footy's AFL 360 on Monday, saying the act was out of character, and gave an insight into the club's tribunal strategy.
"The debate will be intentional versus (careless)," Richardson said. "I know what his intent was - it wasn't to hurt someone.
"He didn't run front on, he's come from the side to check him, he's absolutely done what he thought was the right thing to do, but the timing was out.
"I think we've got to be really clear on what his intent was."
The hearing will take place at the AFL's Etihad Stadium headquarters on Tuesday evening.
Adelaide could join the Saints as they mull whether to fight Taylor Walker's two-game ban for rough conduct for a tackle which knocked out GWS star Josh Kelly.
The tackle was initially rewarded with holding the ball - the decision was reversed and he was penalised for a dangerous tackle when Kelly's injury became apparent.
Christian classified Walker's tackle on Kelly as careless conduct with high impact to the head.
"There are elements of a sling (tackle) … it was a dangerous tackle and then it came to a question of impact," Christian told reporters.
"Clearly Josh Kelly was in a bad way … it took a long time for him to get from the ground."
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