Off the Wall

The decision by Channel Nine and Fox Sports to agree to Darren Lockyer's final home premiership match to be played on a Sunday afternoon - and broadcast live - is a victory for common sense, and creates an important precedent.

Too often in the past distinguished players have ended their careers before empty stands on a Saturday night, or in another lowly rated fixture at an obscure ground.

Hopefully the precedent that has been set with Darren Lockyer's farewell home game will be adopted in the future - and if we get the right television agreement that should be easy to guarantee.

The game does not do enough to honour its heroes, on their retirement, and in their retirement. It is an area in which the AFL leaves us for dead.

While we have a small group of past players who have been made "immortals", it will surprise many to know that the selection of the immortals is controlled by a rugby league magazine - and not by the games administrators.

The inclusion of a Hall of Fame in the new NRL headquarters - being partly funded by the taxpayers - will help redress an oversight that has meant much of the game's illustrious history has been lost, or not adequately recognised and highlighted.

The game's history has had its "downs", but the positives overwhelmingly stand out - and the skill and courage of players down through the ages is the greatest standout of all.

Fortunately there is footage available of some of the great grand finals, tests and other great contests in the 1950's and 1960's...and as far as I know the film records in earlier years are limited.

Hopefully, the Hall of Fame and other steps being taken to retrieve and protect what is available from the games foundation decades will ensure the history of the game is secured, and available for future generations to enjoy.

I freely own up to being negligent myself when, as a young journalist and political staffer, I came into regular contact with some of the greats of the game in my role as a member of Ron McAuliffe's PR Committee at Lang Park.

I could rattle off names who were among the games early heroes - such as Duncan Thompson, Herb Steinohrt, Mick Madsen, among many others. And each year we used to welcome some of the greats of the game from New South Wales who visited Brisbane for the then interstate and test matches.

I should have used my old tape recorder, and inadequate shorthand, and quizzed them on issues and events while their memories were sharp and while they were alive!

But back to the Lockyer farewell...the sensible outcome, for which Nine and Fox deserve credit, will allow the Broncos and the NRL to maximise attendance, and positive media coverage.

I hope the NRL now looks at other stand out players who, while not having records of the length and lustre of Darren Lockyer, deserve the best possible farewell.

And organising a fitting one for the Bulldogs Andrew Ryan would be a good start!