Sunday, 8 January 2017

Fred Villiers on World Of Sport

Long time Melbourne soccer journalist Fred Villiers had a weekly segment on HSV7's popular World of Sport programme, with a clip from a 1985 appearance included above. Villiers had been covering local soccer for papers including The Herald, Soccer News, The Sporting Globe, Truth and the Sunday Observer since the 1950's. He was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2006.

As you can see from the above clip, the usual formula would begin with a round-up of the overnight (the show was broadcast on Sunday afternoon) British scores. From the early 1980's this would include some footage (as technology began to allow for it). Then it would be a round-up of local results (NSL) or brief preview of fixtures later that day. Occasionally there would be an interview.

Unlike over at SBS, correct pronunciation of names was not a priority, as you can tell from his reference to "Jewventus". Likewise the Aussie vernacular gave us Preston Mackerdonia and Green Gully Ay Jacks.

The set of World of Sport was far less professional than we see in the modern day. Backstage the drinking would begin early. The number of guests (most of the VFL coaches would attend to appear in the Coach's Corner segment, as well as several players) and sponsors giveaways made for a party atmosphere. Practical joke would be attempted, as (prior to the teleprompter era) cue cards would be set alight to see if the presenter could read them before they disappeared. Presenters would also be mooned from behind the camera in an attempt to put them off.

As an outsider from the "foreign" code Villiers was targeted for special treatment from the largely Aussie Rules boy's club. Most of it came from the very old school former Richmond champion Jack Dyer and his offsider Lou Richards.

Never the most accomplished presenter, in later years the number of gaffes would increase, and by the 1990's the pioneer of football media in Melbourne was no longer on the scene. He made an appearance at the FFV's Gold Medal Night in 2011. He accepted the inclusion of his friend Michael Weinstein into the FFV's Hall of Fame, with Weinstein not well enough to attend the function.

Thanks to George Cotsanis of My World Is Round we have a couple of photo's of Fred's newspaper work below:

                                                   (Click on images to enlarge)


  1. Regarding Juventus eveyone called them that except some of the Italians back in the day. SBS pronunciation wasn't so great either, Laszlo's Hadge Duck Split a highlight. Anyway love your work 11.Boo.

  2. Thanks Dave, good to see you still around. Jewventus was predominant, but most former Jugoslavs would have been going with the Y for J. Did Les become more refined when George Donikian upped the pronunciation ante?