Paul Vautin is pictured bidding farewell to The Footy Show following a moving speech on Thursday night
As everyone knows on the Footy Show I hosted it for a long time.
I got relieved of my duties back in October last year which was a bit of a shock and disappointment. But in this world you’ve got to put the big boy pants on and move on, and actually I’m extremely happy now being back in the commentary box and doing a bit of work with Rabs and Ray and all the boys, Joey and Sterlo. So It’s good to be back at the local grounds, the grassroots of rugby league and enjoying myself.
So I’m not here to whine and whinge about getting punted, I’m here to express my gratification at being allowed to host the NRL Footy Show for the last 24 years. I think it’s one of the greatest television shows in the history of television and I’m so proud to have been involved in it.
How it all started, myself and Sterlo started working in 1992 and we started the Sunday Footy Show in ’93 and Gary Burns our sports boss he came to us and said, ‘I think there’s a primetime television show in you two’, and we said, ‘What’s primetime mean?’ We had no idea.
He says yeah I’m going to put us on at 9.30pm on a Thursday night. We’re going to do a show.
You can imagine the pitch. He went to the third floor and he said, ‘I tell you what I’m going to do boys, I’m going to put a short, fat, redhead who can hardly string three words together alongside a balding, ex-legend halfback with a massive nose and we’re going to make gold television’.
Well, I don’t know if it was gold but we got there and the show started and it was just a dream to work on for a long, long time.
And there’s so many people to thank for that and that’s why I’m here now, because of the abruptness of how it all happened, I never got a chance to thank anyone – and there’s so many people to thank. First up, all the executive producers of the show… I had a few head butts with them all, but we also laughed a lot.
Then we get to the talent that I worked with. First up, you’ve got Peter Sterling. I love this bloke because when we were doing the show, we basically had no idea what we were doing back in the mid 90s.
I would be taking the show down a track that was almost irretrievable, but Sterlo would somehow drag it back, he was the voice of reason. He’s a magnificent talent and I can’t thank him enough for being my right hand man for a long long time. We had a lot of fun doing the anti-ads.
Move on we go to Ray Hadley, Steve Roach they were great, and then of course… Greg Ritchie was fantastic, the little jockey Alan Robinson, he was gold for a long time – never tipped me a winner in 20 years – but he was a great television talent as well.
What I reckon was the halcyon days of the NRL Footy Show – myself, Sterlo, Matt Johns and Paul Harragon. Remember the Dare Devil Dudes? I don’t know how many waivers I signed over all those years, we nearly got killed about 20 times. But Matt Johns was always a great talent. He was and a pleasure to work with, [he’s] gone on to bigger and greater things now. Paul Harragon, I mean you can’t not love this bloke. He’s one of the nicest human beings, if not the nicest in the world. I love him, I miss him. It’s always great to see him when I do. Mario Fenech, another guy that I love, it was always thought that we didn’t get on, we were always at each other, but he’s one of the nicest blokes you’d ever meet as well.
Then the show… went through quite a few different formats and lineups, but in the end the last few years have been really good with myself and Darryl Brohman who’s a great talent, he’s is very funny… Beau Ryan came on board, extremely funny man as well, he’s great. And then Erin Molan who has also taken over the show, and Erin I wish you all the best with the baby and hope it goes well and may you continue to host the Footy Show for a long, long time. Let’s not forget Michael Slater came in, he’s a cricketer, but I’ll tell you what he’s very professional and a great man as well.
I want to thank my family, Kylie, Nikki and Matt, my three kids who became my best critics, sometimes a bit harsh but they were great critics. My wife Kim kept me grounded through all that time. Most of the time when I came home from the show she’d be snoring, but occasionally she’d be up and she’d be waiting in bed, and I’d walk in to the bedroom and she’d say, ‘You’re a d—head’, and I knew then it had been a magnificent show because it kept her up.
And last of all to thank is the fans. Because you know what, we did this show for the fans. Whether you supported Manly or Parramatta, it didn’t matter, we did it for you. It was pretty hard sometimes to get the balance right – too much footy, not enough footy – but we tried hard, we tried to keep you laughing for a long, long time.
I’m proud of a few things. I’m proud of the fact that the show won 11 Logies including the last five in a row as the best sports show in Australia, I’m proud of the fact that the show is still on air, the show is still going in its 25th year. I’m proud of the fact that I made a lot of friends and I’m also proud that when everyone came on I like to think they walked off going you know what, ‘That was fun, I’d love to do that again’.
So look, I had a lot of laughs along the way and I hoped you laughed with me. Thanks for watching, and that’s a sign out for me.