Lock it on the footy

Tuesday, May 21
Geelong Advertiser

WHEN radio commentators Reg Gray and Ivan More called 3GL's first football match on April 30, 1930, they sat in the front row of Corio Oval's Brownlow-Young Stand, alongside vocal Cats supporters.

Things have certainly come a long way for the station, renamed K-Rock in 1990, which this year celebrates 70 years of football commentary.

The first match broadcast by 3GL was between Geelong and North Melbourne with comments made by More, the Cats' secretary at the time.

The station went on to cover its first away match on July 9 when it headed to the Western Oval to call the Footscray v Geelong game.

Since then 3GL has gone on to call every Geelong match, home and away, and has boasted a number of top commentators including Gray (371 games called for 3GL), Ivor Grundy (616), Leo O'Halloran (440), Ted Whitten (480) and current K-Rock caller Peter Le Grand who has called over 660 games since joining the station in 1985.

The impact 3GL had on local football supporters has been significant over the past 70 years, as was demonstrated in Round 11, 1949, when the Geelong v Essendon match was expected to generate little interest.

When Geelong was up by 32 points at quarter-time, it was reported the crowd swelled almost instantly from 5000 to 17,300.

The Geelong Advertiser also supported 3GL and gave the station plenty of coverage.

``In many cases followers will be unable to visit Melbourne, but if they have a wireless set they will not be deprived of the thrills which their more fortunate friends will experience at the match,'' the June 18, 1932, edition of the newspaper read.

``The Geelong Advertiser station will broadcast a detailed description of the entire match . . . and the game this afternoon promises to be packed full of thrills and excitement, so listen in to 3GL and enjoy a very fine afternoon's entertainment.''

Le Grand said the impact 3GL/K-Rock's football coverage had on the Geelong community was significant.

``It's been fantastic for Geelong supporters over 70 years now,'' he said.

``That's a long time. Going back to when the first game was called, it used to be the most biased station - you would never hear anything of the other side.

``That reputation is still hard to throw, but we've come a long way since then. K-Rock is broadcasting 55 AFL games this year and we're doing interstate games. It has been a great thing to be a part of.''

Le Grand said he had many fond memories from his 17 years in the box.

``The highlight for me was undoubtedly calling football with Teddy Whitten,'' he said.

``Everyone can remember the famous day at Windy Hill when he dropped the magic word, but that was just one of a number of memorable incidents.''

Le Grand said calling with commentators like Dwayne Russell and Sam Kekovich had provided other memorable moments.

There was also the time in 1944 when Geelong captain Tom Arklay was a surprise inclusion into the Cats side, but for personal reasons asked that his name not be mentioned in the broadcast. Listeners did not hear Arklay's name throughout the whole match.

In 1960 a ball was kicked into the broadcast box, and on one occasion in the 1940s commentators travelled from Melbourne to Geelong sitting on a coffin.