Rebecca Maddern appointment is more than a game

Rebecca Maddern joining the Footy Show shouldn't be a question of why -but rather, why has it taken so long?


With Rebecca Maddern appointed to the AFL Footy Show she returns to where she started: Sport.

Maddern began her media career as a sports reporter with Triple M Melbourne, leading to a 15 year career as a journalist and presenter, notably with the Seven Network. There she worked on Seven News, Sunrise, sports coverage including tennis, racing, Commonwealth Games, Brownlow Medal, plus behind the scenes work on AFL broadcasting.

She is also an unashamed AFL tragic, who can talk the talk with the best of them, and the #1 ticket holder for the Geelong Football Club.

None of that has persuaded the most stubborn of Footy Show viewers who have taken to social media to vent against the idea of her joining their beloved and traditional show. Almost all of them argue from a position of gender, rather than her track record.

In many ways these are attitudes the show itself has nurtured over decades. The blokey culture, led by Sam Newman, has been a repeat offender in mocking women, along with several other minorities. Only in recent years has it lifted its game and sought to be more inclusive.

In its 22 year history, The Footy Show has had to tackle everything from violence, misogyny, racism, homophobia, mental health -the latter on its own doorstep this year. And yes, sometimes its own wayward behaviour has been the instigator of such debates.

But it has also been around long enough to observe change. The appointment of Maddern is not dissimilar to the first time a female reporter was on the job in sports changing rooms. Such turning points drew a big reaction at the time, now they are commonplace. The focus is on the work, not the gender.

AFL clubs have had female board members for years, there have been female presenters on Before the Game, Marngrook Footy Show (plus NRL Footy Show) and the AFL Women’s National Championships have been held every year since 1992. Last year Seven screened the historic AFL women’s match to a metro audience of 243,000. Caroline Wilson on Footy Classified is also the show’s most compelling regular -the sky hasn’t fallen in because a female is giving opinion on a male-dominated sport.

Nine’s appointment may be as a result of Garry Lyon’s absence, but frankly the question isn’t why has the Footy Show appointed a female, but rather: why has it taken so long?

Naysayers will soon learn Maddern knows her stuff, has a sharp tongue and isn’t there to keep misbehaving boys in line. If the rumours are true that she left Seven because she was hungry for more profile work, then it is indicative that she is ready to take on the Footy Show team.

As with any casting, the proof will be in the pudding.

Until then armchair critics should play the ball, not the woman.

23 Responses

  1. I’m a huge AFL fan (and a woman), and while I would like to see Rebecca’s appointment as a step forward for the Footy Show, I don’t hold out a lot of hope. They could take some insight from the Rugby League Footy Show, Erin Molan has long been a respected member of their panel.

  2. Footy Show had to do something! More and more I start watching it and turn it off as it was un-funny, not informative or downright embarrising.

    No surprise there has been a negative reaction on social media as the show has been grooming their audience over the years.

    The latest addition to the show is “Sam’s rant” where Newman goes on a rambling tirade (normally against the ‘PC’ brigade). So naturally when the show does something that may be precieved as ‘PC’ they are going to get a reaction. Pavlov’s dogs.

    1. Do you really think it perceived PC ?? They have been coping so much flack about being a boy’s club they had to do something. You don’t like the show, don’t watch it.

  3. I think it’s a great appointment! Haven’t watched the show in years due to the lowbrow antics. Rebecca will surely lift the tone of the show and add an interesting dynamic that should make the show watchable again.

      1. The footy show is tripe, but her appointment has nothing to do with it being tripe.
        Hopefully she will prove that females do have a sence of humour, and don’t take life to seriously.

  4. Why has it taken so long? Because for all the window dressing the AFL has a terrible culture when it comes to women. You only have to watch the show or remember Brownless comments to that poor woman and her daughter at the pub. They are hosting a show about football. They could literally not mention any women and not discuss women in any way but time after time the show gets in trouble because of the cast. The audience doesn’t seem to mind. I wouldn’t watch the show if you paid me and I hope Rebecca’s appointment signals a change but Sam Newman is almost 70. He’s not changing. Sometimes you just need old attitudes to literally die out.

  5. Personally I don’t care if there is a lady doing a role that a man once did or a position that is perceived to be for a male. That being a board member of a company or football club, CEO, sales manager, commentator, journalist, newspaper delivery or coffee maker. If the person has the credentials, let them do the job. Why is it every time there is a woman appointed to a position that we make a song and dance about it. Get over it. I have worked for a very large Australian company who had a female CEO and she did a wonderful job. My direct manager was also female. They had the credentials, no debate. No one cared, I didn’t care. I currently have a female sales manager in my role now. I don’t care. I respect the person and the position for what it is, not for the gender of the person in the role (if that makes sense). Give her a go.

    1. It is, however, still unusual enough that it’s worth mentioning when it’s relevant. Doubly so when it’s a role on a show with a history of being less than pleasant towards 50% of the population, and triply so when the mere announcement has resulted in a s__tstorm of nasty crap on social media.

      Congratulations on achieving enlightenment, but the reaction shows that not everyone has taken the announcement anywhere near as well as you…

  6. Totally agree, I might even start watching again. The show also needs a smart footy loving comic to co-host like a Tom Ballard or someone. It lost its way a bit when Eddie and Trevor went. After that there was too much stupid locker room stuff with Crawf and Billy and not enough footy. Good luck to Rebecca, she will do fine. If it was not for Caroline Wilson I would never watch Footy Classified

    1. Footy show really lost its way when eddie and trevor went.
      Footy show went downhill when they replaced a comedian with non comedians.
      Footy show went downhill when the only humour was of the school boy, locker room variety.
      Footy show went downhill when they forgot they were a footy show and didn’t discuss footy enough.
      Footy show went downhill when they thought opening the show discussing personal lives of footballers was the way to go instead of opening with big footy news.
      I’m not sure introducing a female host would be enough to save the footy show unless they make other major changes.

      1. Nine’s got form. Kerry Packer once ordered Nine to ‘get the fat guy from The Comedy Company’ and they mistakenly hired Tim Smith instead of Mark Mitchell. The Madden/Maddern mixup is not an isolated incident.

  7. Very strange choice.does that mean they will stop degrading women or show sleazy pics demeaning women? It will not work esp in such a major role – not as a sidekick . Hughesy needs to go he is a big fail. See agt

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