Bruce McAvaney drops AFL bombshell
AFL commentary legend Bruce McAvaney has announced he will step back as the voice of the sport, calling an end to his incredible career.
The Channel 7 commentator has called more than a thousand AFL games, 20 grand finals and is one of the most iconic broadcasters in Australian sport, across horse racing and Olympics coverage.
Watch every match of the 2021 AAMI Community Series LIVE on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
At 67, McAvaney has called some of the big moments in Australian sport over the years but has been slowly stepping back.
In 2019, he relinquished the Brownlow Medal hosting role he had held for 21 years, handing the gig to Hamish McLachlan.
Speaking to 7 News, McAvaney revealed that he has reached the point in his career that he wanted to step back from some of his commitments, with Richmond's win in the 2020 AFL Grand Final the last call of his legendary career.
"I felt like I got to a stage in my career where I had to reduce my workload," Bruce told 7NEWS.
"I'm going to miss it enormously, I just visualise when Richmond and Carlton run out there in round one, and the ball is bounced, I'm going to climb a wall somewhere.
"I'm going to have to move on and just be a fan like everybody else."
McAvaney has had health issues in the past as well, revealing in 2017 he was fighting leukeamia, but maintained it wasn't the reason he was stepping back from the AFL coverage.
He has revealed he will continue horseracing and Olympic Games commitments at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
"(I'm) certainly not anything close to retirement, it's just a new phase, where I cut back slightly, and anything I'm asked to do at Seven I'm going to do with the same enthusiasm and same commitment," he explained.
"I still feel like there's a bright future, in a ridiculous way I feel like I haven't reached my potential, I still want to get better, and that's what I'm hoping to do over the next few years.
"For those that like my on air they're still going to see me, for those that say shoosh, bad luck."
Speaking to the Heald Sun, McAvaney said the reason he decided to give away the AFL commentary came after reflection of the 2020 season, one of the most difficult in the sport's history.
"It might have been a walk on the beach with Annie and the dog (where he reached the decision) … it might have just been the combination of a few weeks of slowing down (late last year), having a think and saying to myself, 'Where do I want to be in terms of a well-rounded life in two or three years?'," he said.
"I am going to be 68 this year … it was an opportune time to have a talk to my wife Annie, and to 'Lewy' (Martin) and it was about, 'How are we going to navigate the next few years?' Something had to give."
McAvaney did have a mixed season last year in the AFL coverage, drawing criticism after delivering a flippant description of Collingwood star Jordan De Goey's sexual assault charge and taking a shot at fellow commentator Brian Taylor's weight.
But while the criticisms will always come for those who are in the spotlight across five decades McAvaney's role as one of the great voices of Australian sport have seen an outpouring of tributes despite the fact he will continue to commentate.
The Herald Sun's Glenn McFarlane tweeted: "Such a remarkable career ... with more to come. Very privileged to have spoken to Bruce McAvaney about his decision to bring an end to his AFL calling career. He won't be lost to channel 7. Will still be involved in racing and Olympics."
The Age's Daniel Cherny wrote: "The AFL wasn't even called the AFL the last time Seven broadcast a season of football without Bruce McAvaney calling the game. It will not be the same."
Netball star turned AFLW player and Fox Footy's Bounce host Sharni Layton took to Facebook for a tribute.
"Onya Brucey. What a legend and such an honour to have met such an infamous voice of sport and our game. Thanks for all you have brought. We are so lucky to have had you! Enjoy your well earned retirement Bruce McAvaney," she wrote.
ABC news journalist Sam Wilkinson tweeted: "There's an art to sports commentary that Bruce McAvaney instinctively got. I can't think of anyone else in the Seven's AFL booth now that can do what he did. It's all overly chummy, former players who think screaming at the big moments is the key to a good call."
Feeling actually sad about Bruce McAvaney leaving the AFL call. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. #afl— Rhys Muldoon (@rhysam) February 28, 2021
Inspiring words from the great Bruce McAvaney.. even after all these years he feels like there’s still a peak to be reached. A valuable lesson for anyone - no matter your career or passion. https://t.co/LEJYNjh68i— Nina Stevens (@NinaBStevens) February 28, 2021
Bruce McAvaney is in my lounge room so often over winter, he’s almost like family. When I was 8 I said my dream job would to be like him. He’s The best all round sports commentator this country has ever produced, I’ll miss him.— John Hunt (@JohnHunt1992) February 28, 2021
Everyone has their favourite Bruce McAvaney piece of commentary. Here’s mine. The game really won’t be the same. https://t.co/3b8MxOwKr3— Ashley Browne (@hashbrowne) February 28, 2021
Originally published as Bruce McAvaney drops AFL bombshell