'No excuse': AFL world erupts over Luke Darcy commentary controversy

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured right, veteran AFL journalist Caroline Wilson and Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy on the left.
Caroline Wilson says club directors such as Luke Darcy should never be allowed to commentate games featuring their teams. Pic: Getty/Ch9

Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy has felt the wrath of the AFL world after commentating his former side's thrilling win over West Coast on Sunday.

The Bulldogs overturned a 13-point deficit midway through the final term to pip the Eagles in a Sunday classic at Marvel Stadium that included an astonishing 14 lead changes.

'NO REGRETS': Waleed Aly not sorry for Heritier Lumumba interview

'NOTHING LIKE AFL': Richmond coach hits out over 'laughable' farce

NOT AGAIN: Brisbane's snap lockdown sparks chaos for major sporting codes

Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli iced the match with less than a minute remaining by calmly kicking his third goal in the 14.16 (100) to 14.9 (93) victory.

The match was an instant classic but Darcy's commentary for Channel Seven overshadowed the absorbing spectacle for many fans.

Darcy played 226 games for the Dogs and is a current member of the club's board of directors - making his favouritism towards his former club understandable.

However, many viewers slammed what they described as an obvious bias in Darcy's calling of the match, with veteran AFL journalist Caroline Wilson insisting that directors of clubs should never be allowed to call a game featuring their own team.

Using a segment on Channel Nine's Footy Classified on Monday night, Wilson took aim at Channel Seven for scheduling Darcy on the Bulldogs game, insisting it lacked integrity and was "off-putting" for audiences.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

“There is just no excuse for TV networks and radio stations putting footy club directors behind the microphone to call their own footy teams, cost restrictions don’t cut it,” Wilson said.

“Suggestions that the media is so cash-strapped or commentators so reliant on paying gigs that they have to rely on it is just excuses.

“Excuses for what is frankly a compromised call.

'It’s off-putting for the audience'

Darcy is by no means the only former player to have called matches involving his former team, with Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide) and Jimmy Bartel (GWS) having also found themselves in similar situations recently.

Wilson says remaining impartial is a crucial part of a commentator's job and the criticism is not an attack on any former player-turned caller.

“This is nothing against Luke Darcy who called yesterday’s Western Bulldogs game, or Jimmy Bartel or Mark Ricciuto to name the current crop, but there is just no way their calls are not compromised when they’re so personally and sometimes professionally invested.

Seen here, former AFL stars Mark Ricciuto and Jimmy Bartel.
Mark Ricciuto and Jimmy Bartel have also been involved in calling games involving clubs they're associated with. Pic: Getty

“Commentators like these calling their own footy clubs have to be acting even when their calls sound impartial. It’s off-putting for the audience, it compromises the callers and in the case of yesterday’s wonderful Bulldogs win, it was a case of poor scheduling by the Seven Network.

“It lacks integrity and it’s largely off-putting for the audience.”

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd says he agrees with Wilson and has urged TV networks to avoid any potential conflicts of interest in the future.

“I reckon it’s unfair to Jimmy, Luke and the guys. Just don’t put them on those games,” Lloyd said.

Footy Classified host, Craig Hutchison also admitted that he found Darcy's call "jarring" and understood the frustrations of viewers - particularly those who support West Coast.

“I have a liberal view it adds to the pageantry of the game if your team's not involved,” he said.

“If you were barracking for West Coast yesterday it was a little jarring. But if you were a neutral it was interesting to watch Luke try and (control his emotions).”

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.