Sam Newman stands up to the moral crusaders, writes Darren Devlyn
SAM Newman has never been one to listen to ‘‘ the vocal minority’’. Ratings, Newman says, prove those who hammer The Footy Show for its alleged political incorrectness have no concept of the program’s wide appeal.
The Footy Show tomorrow celebrates its 18th birthday and 500th episode. Have there been times you’ve seriously thought it was coming to a close for the show or for you personally? We are all filling in time until we’re sacked. We are at the mercy of the masses (TV ratings). We’ve had ‘‘experts’’ try to nobble us. Painting my face black (Nicky Winmar sketch) . . . I will never accept what it was hijacked into being, that it was racist. The mannequin (incident) . . . I’ll never accept (that it was antiwomen). People who have agendas love to get their teeth into puerile and ridiculous arguments that have no merit. But I take it as a back-handed compliment that they’d be so interested in my pissy little life that they’d try to catapult me out of the business. The thing we get criticised for most is going and chatting to people in the streets (Street Talk). Ninety-nine per cent of people who are on, love it. If, in hindsight, they think they’ve said something they shouldn’t have said and ring and say they don’t want to be on (Street Talk), then we never put people on. The righteous minority want to close it down, say it’s a disgrace. We go to various areas where drugs are prevalent and we have all the drug addicts who are off their faces come up and speak to us. Some say, ‘‘Thanks for putting us on’’, and some say ‘‘That helped us turn the corner because we could see what f---wits we were’’. Footy Show memorable moments. What are your recollections of the following: Shane Crawford pinning you down and sitting on your face? I know going to Afghanistan with the armed forces would be risky, but I reckon having Shane sit on your face would run second. Kissing Molly Meldrum . . . Molly came on, we got on to his love life. I said, ‘‘The way I’m going, Molly, you could be my next target’’. And we gave it a small try on camera and decided to go our separate ways. We ( Footy Show) get pilloried, but there have been some significant football moments in the 18 years. A couple of years ago we interviewed John Worsfold, when the first suspicions were there about drugs and their influence in football. The great man he is, he was non-plussed at the extent of what had been shown to him. That was a telling moment. Howdo you feel about your future prospects? I’m contracted to the end of next year. You know how secure contracts are, they can be cancelled within an hour. I’ve never planned a day in my life and now that I’ve become a pensioner (65), I don’t plan to change. I’m just trying to get the card so I can get free tram travel. I’m just squeaking by at the minute; I need as much free travel as I can get. After 18 years, wecan assume you don’t need to work for the money. Is that right? You’d be joking, wouldn’t you. I’ve got a lot of overheads, kids and wives and in-laws spread through the length and breadth of the country. I tell you what, I genuinely enjoy working with Garry (Lyon) and James (Brayshaw), fat Bill (Brownless) and silly Shane (Crawford). I may give the impression I don’t enjoy it, but I do.
You’ve been through hard times financially. Does that continue to manifest itself in your work ethic? I’ve been broke. In order to experience the highs you’ve got to know the lows. To realise what success is, you’ve got to know where you’ve come from. I’ve had both ends of the scale. The common perception is ‘‘Love or loathe him, the show wouldn’t survive without Sam’’. The show mightn’t survive as it is without me. The show would change into something else and probably be equally as successful. I’m absolutely sincere about this. The mistake some people make (on footy shows that haven’t lasted) is they try to be something they are not. I don’t try to be something I’m not. People perceive me as a p---k and I probably am. Is living life with a public profile becoming more or less enjoyable as time goes on? I don’t go out at all, but if people like me start complaining about what we have to go through in life, we are stroking ourselves big time. We wouldn’t know what adversity is. Every time you’re feeling sorry for yourself or feel you’re being intruded upon, you’ve just got to step back and look at what else is going on around you. The Footy Show, Channel 9, Thursday, 9.30pm Fun times: Sam Newman (centre) says he genuinely enjoys working with (from left) Shane Crawford, Bill Brownless, James Brayshaw and Garry Lyon.