While TV is often a cut-throat business with little loyalty, Garry Lyon has had a long and successful career at Nine having being one of The Footy Shows original first year panellist’s and remaining with the show for its entire 21 year history.
Reflecting on his early day’s on the program he now co-hosts with James Brayshaw a reflective Lyon tells me,
“I got carried along for a couple of those years; I did more panels than I did games.” The latter years of his playing career with the Melbourne Football Club was plagued with injury, “As panellists we knew our role was to just get a few good lines away and then just sit back and enjoy the Sam and Eddie show.”
While always playing a key role on The Footy Show, Garry’s media career really took hold when Nine gained the AFL rights in 2002. “We had five years of it here on Nine and they were great years and I loved doing that.”
Garry won numerous media association and fan voted awards for his special commentary on Nine’s AFL coverage. When the network lost the AFL rights in 2007 Lyon had a big decision to make regarding his future “I’ve never really been tempted to leave other than to cover Football on Television.”
“I’ve had a fantastic association with Nine, I love the people, and I love the station. A couple of times I've had offers to perhaps go elsewhere but it’s always been an easy decision to stay.”
Negotiations will soon commence for the 2017 AFL rights deal and Garry remains confident of an AFL return. “I think David Gyngell, Ian Paterson, Tim Cleary and all the executives know very well our desires, we would love to get footy back! Absolutely”
“I’m always hopeful we will get it back, the people here do sport better than anyone” “In an ideal world the Nirvana would be covering footy on TV.”
For the next broadcast rights deal the AFL is likely to maximise revenue by breaking the deal into separate timeslots, selling them separately to organisations including Seven, Nine, Ten, Foxtel and Telstra.
“I don’t think we would ever be in a position because of our NRL commitments to have a huge chunk of Footy, hopefully the AFL in the next bargaining rights agreement will looking at carving it up into specific timeslots and we could take one of those.”
One of those available timeslots will be Thursday Night Footy as the AFL attempts to maximise primetime exposure, this will likely see The Footy Show disappear from its traditional Thursday home.
“It is an issue, its something we are going to have to deal with and talk about, I think there talking about 8 Thursday night games next year (with more in 2016) and that’s challenging for us, because were happy to take on any show, and god knows there’s been about 100 shows put on against us over the years and thankfully we have been able to maintain our audience, but Footy is a whole different thing. No one can take on Footy.”
While Sam Newman’s credibility has been irreparably tarnished by his juvenile antics on The Footy Show, Lyon has mostly managed to avoid the same fate by involving himself in more credible programming.
“Footy Classified has been a great success, I get my fun, my kicks out of doing The Footy Show, and I get my opportunity to get my teeth stuck into some real footy issues on Footy Classified.”
Loved by its loyal audience, Footy Classified often also frustrates it's fans with irregular late start times, recently Nine moved the program back an hour so the network could feature a documentary on elderly sex workers. When asked if he would prefer to tackle 7Mate’s Talking Footy head on Lyon is quick to respond,
“We won’t be going on Gem, I think we averaged 270,000 people last night” Talking Footy regularly averages 120,000 on 7Mate and gains another 30,000 in late night replay on Seven. “My brother produces Talking Footy so we have a good friendly rivalry.”
Garry Lyon took over co-hosting duties of The Footy Show with his good friend James Brayshaw in 2006. At the time many questioned if anyone would be able to match the hosting ability of Eddie McGuire.
“Eddie, Sam and Trev had created this enormous big show, and it was important to have both of us go into the hosting role to give the whole thing a different look.”
The Footy Show has often been criticised for its low-brow humour and treatment of women, defending the crazy antics of the program Garry tells me,
“The thing that we adhere to is we never take ourselves to seriously, you cant do that in this game, if your going to have fun and poke fun at other people and laugh, not in a bad way I hope. Always bearing in mind we never want to embarrass anyone or belittle people.
But you have also got to be prepared to take your turn, and god knows I cop heaps on our show and that’s just the show, that what we do.”
The Footy Show airs 8:30pm Thursdays on Channel Nine