For six months of the year, Australian Rules football dominates Melbourne’s newspapers, nightly bulletins and water cooler conversations. So far, so good. But more often than not the footy narrative that enters the public discourse is carefully shaped by the AFL itself and pushed by the cabal of powerful men who run the game more like a fiefdom than a sport. Head office's story is the only story.
Enter Mick Warner, football reporter at the Herald Sun. In 2019, Mick decided to tell an alternative story of the modern AFL, one that reevaluated the game’s guardians and their legacy. That book, The Boys’ Club, exposes the secret, murky world that the AFL’s top brass fights tooth and nail to keep behind closed doors.
In the third episode of StoryCraft, host Ben Hart sits down with Mick to find out how he does what he does. Together, they discuss speaking truth to power, the importance of old-school shoe-leather journalism, and what it’s like to step outside of an entrenched system of patronage and make an enemy out of the biggest game in town.
Looking for more on the art, craft and science of storytelling? Check out our sister magazine The Story, launching mid-November. Follow The Story on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.