THE post-match footy interviews give the fans the chance to learn more, straight from their heroes. But do they? GEOFF POULTER has heard it all before:
MY blueprint for young footballers facing the media this season. And it follows along the traditional, rigid path of cleverly giving away as little as possible while appearing to say plenty.
It’s an art form. Prepare yourself for another Australian Rules Football season of glib, clipped, rehearsed, stereotyped answers to media questions, admittedly not always wise and considered.
These are some of the steps a young player, suddenly thrust into the limelight, should follow in the post-match interviews. In other words, the party line.
STRESS lucky breaks, praise the other team, they were brave opposition, regardless of the margin or ease of victory.
PLAY down the significance of the win. We got the 50-50s, it all fell perfectly for us. It is just one game of 22. There’s a long way to go. We still have areas/structures/processes where we can improve.
IT’S all week to week. Emphasise this. You don’t know what is around the corner. All games tough. They are quality opponents. Respect the opposition, never under-estimate them, even if they are well off the pace.
DON’T dwell on the win. They will be better next time. We will need to be at our best, on our toes. We never take anything for granted.
DECLARE that we’re determined this is not a “oncer”, a flash in the pan. We will work hard to try to string a few wins and good performances together.
AFTER a loss, explain that it means we will have to somehow try to regain touch on the training track. It means a lot of hard work and we are up for it. We will be getting back to the basics, to try to find out where we went wrong. We have got to come to play. We will do whatever is required.
TAKE a measured approach, a deep breath, smile and talk slowly. The longer your answers, the fewer questions you are likely to face.
MENTION “the boys” a lot, plug the sponsors, the need for more members. Join up now, be part of our journey. Hammer the TEAM ethic – you’d rather win a flag than a Brownlow or other individual honours.
INJURIES: Other teams have them, too. It is an empty feeling if you win in these circumstances. Say that you’d rather beat them at full strength – for greater satisfaction.
UNDERPLAY your own team’s fresh injuries. Jack, pictured in the background on crutches, will be OK, he’s a tough cookie, high pain barrier. Things like broken bones don’t bother him. Give vague answers such as: He’ll be assessed by our medical people, they work wonderfully well. We’ve got depth, back-up, one soldier out, one soldier in, they know their roles, they’re well drilled.
AT least pretend to respect the interviewer. Perception is everything. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. Display clearly the logo on your jumper. Appear genuine, honest and humble, Remember the Hollywood heavyweight who said: “Once you’ve learned to fake sincerity, then you’ve got it made.”
FOR your parting shot, smile broadly and say, “Thanks for having me.”
That’s my basic plan in a nutshell. I’m sure you’ll have a few other contributions.
SUMMARY: In other words, don’t say or give our opponents anything that they can video or cut out of the paper and plaster all over their noticeboards to spur them on when they next play us. Learn to play it smart.
GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!