The thing about footy

June 02, 2017

The footy-mad larrikins Coodabeen Champions will be in Shepparton in August.

When Jeff Richardson and his mates took their quirky footy-themed comedy show in to Melbourne’s 3RRR studios in 1981, he had no idea it would still be popular more than 30 years later.

The team had the idea of performing a light-hearted VFL-themed show, complete with parody songs and skits about the game.

Although footy was always the dominant game in Melbourne, with wall-to-wall coverage on TV, print and radio, Mr Richardson believed the show was popular because it looked at it in a different way.

‘‘Part of it is to do with the very particular nature of Australian football culture,’’ he said.

‘‘We wanted to bring the voice of the people involved in footy matches to the airways.’’

The Coodabeen Champions show was a hit and before long it was picked up by ABC Radio, where it gained legions of new fans in traditional footy-loving states Tasmania and South Australia, as well as throughout regional Victoria.

As the show grew in popularity, so did the game itself as the then-VFL expanded into the national Australian Football League.

Despite the commercial growth of the AFL as the dominant code in the country and the extensive media coverage, Mr Richardson said the show was always about the fans and not the players.

‘‘There is not much in the mainstream sport coverage where you actually get a sense of what the ordinary person going through the gate is going through, like the volunteers at the Goulburn Valley footy clubs,’’ he said.

He loved footy culture because, unlike other sporting codes, it was a game that was unique to Australia.

‘‘There are not many things in post-settlement or post-invasion Australia that is not from somewhere else,’’ Mr Richardson said.

Throughout the years, members of the group have found success in other areas, with former member Simon Whelan now a Supreme Court judge and Greg Champion releasing a a number of successful albums.

The team can still be heard on ABC Victoria and ABC Melbourne and has gained legions of new fans.

‘‘There are a lot of people who have been listening for a long long time, and then you have school-aged kids that have gotten into it too,’’ Mr Richardson said.

The Coodabeen Champions will be in Shepparton for a live show at the Eastbank Centre on Wednesday, August 2.

To book, phone the Riverlinks box office on 58329511.

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