Channel 7 smashed over ‘off-putting’ AFL commentary conflict

The Dogs-Eagles clash at Marvel Stadium on Sunday was footy at its finest — lightning end-to-end ball movement, a dozen lead changes and a furious final quarter fightback.

But there was one aspect that didn’t sit well with viewers on Channel 7 — listening to former star Bulldogs ruckman Luke Darcy commentate his old club.

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Not only did the now 45-year-old play 226 games for the Dogs, he is also a current member of the club’s board of directors and there were moments during the contest where he struggled to hide his preference for which team won the game.

Would never have envisaged this could happen when a club director called his own team’s game.

Luke Darcy calling a Bulldogs game… And he's just mistaken Kennedy for Darling, twice.. #earbudsplease. #AFL#AFLDogsEagles

There was plenty of frustrated Eagles supporters as Darcy exploded when Aaron Naughton took a key mark and the situation was slammed by veteran footy journalist Caroline Wilson.

“There is just no excuse for TV networks and radio stations putting footy club directors behind the microphone to call their own footy teams,” Wilson said on Footy Classified.

“Cost restrictions don’t cut it. Suggestions that the media is so cash-strapped or commentators so reliant on paying gigs that they have to juggle these conflicts are just excuses. Excuses for what is, frankly, a compromised call.

“This is nothing against Luke Darcy who called yesterday’s Western Bulldogs game or Jimmy Bartel who I work with on 3AW or Mark Ricciuto to name the current crop, but there is just no way their calls are not compromised when they’re so personally, and sometimes professionally, invested.

“Commentators like these calling their own footy clubs have to be acting even when their calls are completely sounding like they’re impartial. It’s off-putting for the audience, it compromises the callers and in the case of yesterday’s wonderful Western Bulldogs win over West Coast it was a case of poor scheduling by the Seven Network.”

“It lacks integrity and it is largely off-putting for the audience,” Wilson added. “I’m not saying Luke overdid it at any moment yesterday. That call of the big mark by Naughton … Brian Taylor probably would have done the same thing. But you know he’s a Western Bulldogs director. I’m a broken record. I don’t know why it still happens and there’s no excuse.”

Luke Darcy played more than 200 games for the Dogs. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

The show’s host, Craig Hutchison, agreed Darcy’s call was “jarring”. “I have a liberal view it adds to the pageantry of the game if your teams not involved,” he said. “If you were barracking for West Coast yesterday it was a little jarring. But if you were a neutral it was interesting to watch Luke try and (control his emotions).”

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd was adamant it needed to stop.

“It’s unfair on Luke, Jimmy and the guys,” Lloyd said. “Don’t put them on those games.”

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