'Not fair': The fine line footy shows walk after on-air blow up

·3-min read
Pictured right is Triple M presenter Anthony Maroon and his radio colleague James Hooper on the left.
Triple M presenter Anthony Maroon (right) stormed off set after taking exception to comments from colleague James Hooper. Pic: Fox Sports/Triple M


At what point does 'blokey' banter between mates enter into the realm of bullying?

It's the question executives at Southern Cross Austereo are asking themselves after Anthony Maroon, who hosts Triple M's weekend NRL program in Sydney, walked off mid-show on Sunday after being bombarded by questions over allegedly taking cash jobs on the side.

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This columnist just happened to be listening in at that very point and picked up Maroon was a little sensitive to the continual comments and attention.

But you found yourself wondering if it was all part of a gee-up and just the usual back-and-forwards between blokes who know each other well.

That's the way it sounded.

Amid much laughter, panellists Gorden Tallis, Paul Kent and James Hooper all took turns at firing pot shots at Maroon, who repeatedly threatened to divulge secrets about the trio's off-air lives if they didn’t stop bringing up his alleged cash payments.

He revealed he had previously written to Austereo management to complain about his treatment, but again you were left wondering if it was all part of the act.

Apparently not.

"I don’t think it’s funny – it’s caused me a lot of grief," Maroon said.

"It's not fair and it's not legitimate and I'm not putting up with it anymore. We’re not all mates. I don’t like it."

And then he was gone, leaving Kent in charge of the show.

On the right is Triple M radio presenter Paul Kent and former NRL star Gordon Tallis on the left.
Anthony Maroon stormed off the Triple M radio set after a segment involving NRL reporter Paul Kent (pictured right) and former NRL star Gordon Tallis (pictured left.) (images: Triple M)

Can radio show banter cross the line?

These sort of radio shows have traded on this sort of banter for decades, starting with the Decibel Duo Peter Peters and Greg Hartley going at each other in the early 80s.

Peters, in particular, never missed an opportunity to give it to Hartley and the former referee gave as good as he got.

The Continuous Call team – known at times as the Continuous Brawl team – took it up a notch as Ray Hadley, Bob Fulton, Darryl Brohman, Peter Frilingos and Steve Roach squared off each Saturday and Sunday.

The show rated its head off, trading in putdowns and gee-ups amid the more serious rugby league chat.

Brohman and Fulton had a highly publicised fallout when Fulton labelled the former Queensland prop 'a coward' for an article Brohman wrote about Les Boyd.

Brohman's jaw was broken by Boyd's stray elbow in a State of Origin match in 1983 and he later sued the fiery NSW forward for damages.

Fulton, who coached Boyd, labelled Brohman a 'coward' on-air for taking the matter to court and the pair didn’t speak for some time.

That blow-up was five star compared to the Maroon walkout.

There have been similar clashes in the AFL, with flying fried rice at the centre of one celebrated on-air clash on Triple M's Sunday Rub many years ago.

Steve Quartermain was quizzing Hawthorn legend Justin Dunstall, then a board member at the Hawks, over the fitness of Trent Croad amid rumours a foot injury could end the star player's career.

Enraged by Quartermain's line of questioning, the pair argued heatedly before Dunstall tipped a tray of rice on the host, who angrily walked out.

Again, a bit heavier than the Maroon exchange.

But in 2022, the difference between bullying and banter is in the eye of the beholder.

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