After 19 years as chief football writer with The Age, Caroline Wilson has announced she is stepping down from the role.
Caroline’s been a trailblazer for women in sports journalism, and has seen some significant change in AFL during her time, including the start of the women’s game.
And she’s also seen plenty of great games, won numerous awards, and experienced her fair share of “gang tackles” and run-ins with some high-profile men in the football world – and elsewhere.
Last year, Eddie McGuire made jokes about paying to drown her. At the time and in response, Caroline wrote: “It took me back to the old days of The Footy Show when the former host and Collingwood president would line me up in an occasionally vile and foul-mouthed way and enlist his colleagues in a series of sexist gang tackles.”
Sam Newman went on to say that even if she was under water, she’d still be talking. “If you’re going to want to be treated equally, the point is, don’t complain when it’s too equal,” he said on The Footy show.
— sam mostyn (@sammostyn) November 28, 2017
But Carline said she found covering football, even in the early eighties, welcoming. People thought she was a genius, she told ABC news breakfast this morning, because it was thought that a woman couldn’t do such a job. “In a way, being an outsider helped,” she said.
“I reckon I’ve had a dream run,” she added when asked about what kind of sexism and harassment she’s experienced.
However, she recalled on radio this morning being kicked out of a room once because the president of a football club assumed she was a “groupie”.
She also recalled a run-in with Don Burke, when seated next to him at a function. She was heavily pregnant at the time and had been chatting with him. When she turned away from him to look at the stage, she asked him to excuse her back. She says he in turn asked if he could lick it.
Caroline followed up with Fairfax Media on the incident this morning, saying that “it was gross”, that her husband heard it, but that she wasn’t “devastated or traumatised by it” — and that it was nothing compared to what other women allege he’s done.
Caroline will stay on as a regular AFL columnist with The Age, and continue with podcasts, television and radio appearances.
The best journo I’ve ever worked with.
But we’ve done well in trading.https://t.co/kdbuaMybzr
— Greg Baum (@GregBaum) November 28, 2017
Caroline has won multiple awards, including two Walkleys, as well as the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year award and the Harry Gordon prize for the Australian Sports Journalist of the Year. She was the first woman to be inducted into the MCG Media Hall of Fame.
“It’s been a great privilege to have spent the past two decades covering the greatest sport in the world at one of the world’s best newspapers,” Caroline said in The Age’s piece on the announcement.