2012 was a significant year for football broadcasting: a billion dollar five year television rights deal, football diehards’ gospel channel Fox Footy reappearing on our screens and ruthless tit-for-tat talent poaching between football broadcasting stations. Yet behind the glitzy deals and headlines, a stalwart of football journalism, Mike Sheahan, decided to hang up his pen and full-time duties at the Herald Sun.
Mike Sheahan’s book Open Mike is a transcript of his own one-on-one Andrew Denton-like interview show on Fox Footy. In what was his most publicly praised work in 2012 while in “semi-retirement” and certainly his least controversial (Mike’s Top 50 anyone?), Sheahan interviews past and present players, coaches and even the great Tony Charlton.
After viewing Open Mike on TV and in print, the interviews can be enjoyed on both platforms. In the book, neat career summaries are provided before each interview. Sheahan’s strengths as an interviewer, like his short and direct questioning, are very evident in his book. Occasionally we are hit with some eye-opening reading like Robert Wall’s admission that he deserved to get the sack from Carlton and emotion-stirring moments like Dermott Brereton’s personal struggle with two family members committing suicide. While a number of interviews don’t necessarily reveal something new, startling or shocking, Brereton’s interview was particularly illuminating. “The Kid” or “Judge Dermie” can be sometimes portrayed as just the bigheaded blonde media personality but Dermie’s interview showed a complex, self-reflective and candid side to him that the general public are not exposed to.
Mostly, this book is an opportunity for footy lovers to reminisce over their champions and villains, and in a few cases, understand them from beyond the boundary.