The 7 best commentators in footy history & their playing stats

“The game craft and magnetisation of Paddy Dangerfield’s charisma patterns far outweighs the negative sorcery of his inwardinisation.”

IT’S difficult to pinpoint the best commentary moment of Round 17.

It could have been Brian Taylor’s insistence on getting very loud and yelling inane observations whenever something exciting happened, or Luke Darcy crossing to Jude Bolton for an interview with “Shaun Rioli”.

Cameron Ling’s inability to show any kind of enthusiasm at all unless Geelong was winning was memorable, as was Dermott Brereton’s desperate attempts to coin phrases like “force of brunt” and “game craft”.

Then the crowning glory – Mark Maclure leaving Dustin Martin out of the votes despite 43 touches and two goals.

We’re in a golden age of commentary, folks, and we at The Hickey Stand believe all of the above have something in common – something that the greats listed below don’t have.

We’ll let you figure this one out.


“I’ll put a spell on you, ladies.”


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

THE clear cut winner as the best commentator that Australian Rules has seen.

It was a close call though. Cometti was actually a pretty handy footballer and ended up on Footscray’s list at one point, but injuries and media commitments stopped him from ever registering a VFL game.

His best call? Surely a tie between “he went in optimistically and came out misty optically” or “Barlow to Bateman, the Hawks are attacking alphabetically”.

Feel free to prove us wrong with your own favourite Comettisms.

Norman Banks escaped a life with the Peaky Blinders for a career in broadcasting.


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

A PIONEER of footy broadcasting, Banks was one of the first radio announcers to describe the game to the thousands of fans who couldn’t be arsed attending.

Commentating from at times precarious places – like the top of a ladder at a Blues game in 1931 and a wooden plank sticking out of the ladies toilets a few years later – Banks managed to overcome crappy working conditions to become the voice of footy.

Bonus points: Banks founded Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight, unknowingly creating steady employment for Denis Walters in the decades to come.

FFS, I’m the other Ron Casey.


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

NO, not the racist knob that punched Normie Rowe in the face.

Melbourne’s Ron Casey – as is the case with basically everything when comparing Victoria to New South Wales – is a significantly better version.

Hosting World of Sport for 28 years, Casey King-George-the-Fifthed the shit out of his career by overcoming a speech impediment to become Melbourne’s leading sport commentator for almost three decades.

59 degrees? Pfft. I knew global warming was a hoax.


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

ALONG with Norman Banks, Charlton commentated 3AW’s very first VFL game – a night match between Richmond and Essendon in 1952.

Not happy with taking 3AW’s football virginity, Charlton then popped over to Channel 7 to commentate the first live broadcast of VFL on the telly.

With Ron Casey and World of Sport dominating the Sunday sport timeslot on Channel 7, Channel 9 threw all their cash at Charlton to host The Tony Charlton Football Show.

In a memorable and legendary broadcast, Charlton got the exclusive interview with sacked Melbourne coach Norm Smith in 1965.

It was from that exact moment that “The Curse of Norm Smith” would start haunting the Melbourne Football Club until the end of days.

When Bruce isn’t working he likes to take a single wooden chair to the beach and reflect on life, sport and Cyril.


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

LOVE him or hate him, you can’t deny Bruce’s passion for the game and sport in general.

If you were ever feeling depressed, Bruce seems like the type of person you could call up and say “mate, tell me something good about myself” and the ensuing conversation would ensure you’d never be depressed again.

While his lust for small Hawthorn forwards is starting to verge on creepy, McAvaney’s knowledge of sport – from footy to horse racing to synchronised swimming – is second to none.

“Have you seen the shot we took of Bruce on the beach last week? No? Good.”


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

ALONG with Cometti (0 games, 0 goals), McAvaney (0 games, 0 goals) and Drew Morphett (0 games, 0 goals), Sandy Roberts was the voice of footy for a generation of fans growing up in a golden era.

While Lockett, Ablett, Dunstall and Carey were dominating on the field, Cometti, McAvaney, Morphett and Roberts dominated off it.

The man behind moments like “there is a pig at full-forward” and “a rock and rolling season, down and out and back he comes can he finish it off with a goal? Billy – you are King of Geelong”, Sandy’s form has tapered a little, but his status as a great of the broadcasting game is etched in stone.

He also accidentally called 1981 Miss Australia winner Leanne Dick “Leanne Cock” at a Mount Gambier Cup broadcast.

Classic Sandy.

Early broadcasts relied on crude technology and a willingness to get your gear off.


VFL/AFL games: 0. VFL/AFL goals: 0.

THERE’S only one thing you need to know about Mike Williamson.

“Oh, Jesaulenko you beauty!”

That is all.


HONOURABLE CURRENT DAY MENTIONS: Anthony Hudson (0 games, 0 goals); Gerard Whateley (o games, 0 goals); Tim Lane (0 games, 0 goals); Eddie McGuire (good caller, bit of a knob at times, 0 games, 0 goals); James Brayshaw (0 games, 0 goals).

VERY SPECIAL MENTION: Clinton Grybas (0 games, 0 goals).

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