Eddie McGuire’s presence in the commentary box for this Saturday’s derby between West Coast and Fremantle made front page news in Perth.
The West Australian newspaper splashed “Ed Alert!” across its cover after confirming the Collingwood president would travel west to lead Fox Footy’s coverage of the round four blockbuster.
McGuire, who revealed he was able to make the journey because the Magpies are playing Friday night and he has next week off his breakfast radio commitments, took the criticism in stride.
“I take it as a bit of fun,” McGuire told Perth radio station 6PR. “It is a West Australian game between two great clubs, but it is also one of the biggest sporting events on, in the country, and when you look at the attendance, it’ll be one of the biggest attended games in the world this weekend.
“One of the things I’ve been working closely with the West Coast Eagles and speaking to Fremantle and particularly the West Australian government, is bringing people from Victoria every week to that magnificent new stadium that’s over there.
“It’s a really good opportunity for Western Australia to open their minds to what can be and the amount of money that could come into Western Australia through tourism, particularly through football.”
The front page of tomorrow’s The West Australian pic.twitter.com/bzMT2CH7RZ— Anthony De Ceglie (@AnthDeCeglie)
The newspaper described McGuire as “WA’s most despised commentator”, citing the results of a fan survey conducted by Seven West Media last season.
“McGuire was voted the most annoying commentator by WA footy fans in last year’s Seven West Media’s Ultimate Footy Survey, taking 72.11 per cent of the vote, while he received just 6.95 per cent of the vote for the most liked,” the report stated.
McGuire has endured a torrid fortnight after making regretful comments about Sydney Swans No. 1 ticket holder and double amputee Cynthia Banham after she tossed the coin before a game against the Adelaide Crows.
But there were still many Perth folk willing to defend him.
Editor Anthony De Ceglie’s tweet of the front page was met with a predominantly negative response. Many expressed disappointment at the newspaper, including a newsagent owner who said he was “embarrassed to sell it”.
“This is the front page of the state’s only daily newspaper,” Barbara Hymus wrote. “What an absolute joke.”
“Gee that’s a bit harsh!” added Marianne. “I’d rather have Ed than some of the other commentators.”
“The West Australian is WA’s most despised newspaper,” wrote Reg Waterhouse.
Not sure why everyone’s piling on #eddiemcguire ahead of the western derby. I thought his comments after the grand final last year were all class. He seems to respect WA footy quite a bit. What’s the problem? #derby #eagles #dockers pic.twitter.com/ohdGYn5e7D— Daniel Emerson (@DanEmerson14)
Each to their own but can I say Eddie McGuire has had a profound positive effect on my media journey. I was fortunate enough to get a gig with 10 in Melbourne when he left to start the Footy Show at 9. Work ethic second to none. Made errors but never question his passion.— Tim Gossage ??? (@TimGossage)
McGuire, who has never called a Western Derby, will sit alongside WA’s Adam Papalia, Fremantle champion Matthew Pavlich and Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall, and was reportedly included because of the magnitude of the contest between the AFL’s third and sixth-ranked teams.
Channel 7 commentator Basil Zempilas told 6PR that McGuire’s presence was “unusual, that’s for sure” and beloved broadcaster Dennis Cometti also played a straight bat.
“I wouldn’t give him any advice,” Cometti told The West Australian. “It is just another football game for him.”
History will remember McGuire’s response to his Magpies defeat against West Coast in last year’s grand final as exemplary too.
He visited the Eagles changerooms post-game to offer his congratulations and spoke magnanimously about the victor.
“If we’re going to get beaten by five points in a grand final, it might as well be by one of the greatest outfits in the history of sport,” he said.
“When I look at how proud I am of our organisation, I also look with great affection at the West Coast Eagles and know that they do things really well.”