Home » ‘That’s my joy’: Broadcaster marks 40 years of calling WA country footy

‘That’s my joy’: Broadcaster marks 40 years of calling WA country footy

‘That’s my joy’: Broadcaster marks 40 years of calling WA country footy

Like many young boys, Glenn Barndon would play kick to kick by himself in the backyard, commentating with the names of players of the time.

When he reached primary school, he had the very important job of running the scoreboard at his football club in Chapman Valley, east of Geraldton in WA’s Midwest. 

People sitting nearby would tell him to “shut up” as he commentated the game while it was in action. 

It’s no wonder to many of them that he’s now marking his 40th year of calling local and Country Week football in the Midwest for a variety of broadcasters. 

Small boy wears jumper, shorts and boots holding a football

Barndon would practise commentating imaginary games as he played at home.(Supplied: Barndon family)

“I was just playing around out the front, kicking it [the football] to myself and using the names of the people around … then calling the game and kicking the goal,” he said.

“It was just part of the way I grew up.”

He was about 22 when he started calling footy at 6GE, which was then the commercial station in Geraldton.

“We’ve had a number of stations along the way, a few commercial FM stations, and now we’re on Radio Mama, which is an Aboriginal community station and we’ve been there for about 10 or so years and really had a good time,” he said.

“It spreads the word of footy around the regions in the Murchison and the Gascoyne.

“A lot of family names are used and a lot of people take pride in the footy.”

From the field to the studio

Barndon was a handy footballer himself but retired fairly young after a number of concussions. 

“I was a good average player who worked really hard at it but I wasn’t ever going to make it to the next level,” he said. 

Smiling young man wearing headphones with microphone

Glenn Barndon first started calling country football on radio 6GE in Geraldton when he was 22.(Supplied: Barndon family)

He has called every season of the Great Northern Football League and every grand final for the past 40 years.

“I’ve been lucky enough to see three or four generations of footballers play,” he said. 

“I’ve seen the grandads play, I’ve seen the the sons play, and I’ve seen their sons play so it’s really quite nice, the family tree, that I’ve been able to see the whole family come through football.”

He lists watching three generations of the Wall family at Mullewa among the great moments.

Barndon recalls fondly the opportunity to call some WAFL games in his time and a scratch match between Richmond and the Fremantle Dockers as highlights.

His experience behind the microphone calling country football turned into a full-time broadcasting career with ABC Midwest Wheatbelt in 1998, presenting local programs. 

“A lot of my friends and family who had to put up with me as a kid growing up say, ‘Well, we’re not surprised, because you spent a lot of time playing radio stations or calling the footy or calling the races’,” he said. 

Man wearing headset smiles at the camera

Glenn Barndon started working at the ABC in Geraldton in 1998.(ABC Midwest Wheatbelt: Piper Duffy)

Barndon said he had learned most about the game from working alongside great players of the past, including Mick Thompson and Barry Cooper. 

“I’ve been always keen to listen to the very good players,” he said. 

“I never count myself as an expert but I count myself as someone who has listened and learned and talk about the way the game is. 

“But I’m very, very careful not to be critical of players because I couldn’t do it. So I’m not telling them how they should do it.

“And I’m never harsh on the players because I know they’re doing their best.”

Two men at table, with headsets and microphones

Glenn Barndon (left) commentating a game in the GNFL with Peter Fiorenza.(Supplied: Barry Mitchell/Snapaction Sports Photography)

Passion for the game

Despite marking 40 years this year, Barndon said he had no plans to hang up the microphone just yet. 

“At the moment, I’ve still got as much enthusiasm for calling the footy as I did when I started and that’s the nice thing,” he said. 

“A lot of people go and play golf on a Saturday afternoon, well, I go and watch footy and that’s my entertainment. That’s my joy.”

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Mukinbudin’s John Shadbolt has been a long-time member of the WA Country Football executive and is a former chairman. 

He said Barndon has been a great ambassador for country footy over the years.

“I think his passion for the game and for all of our country communities has been exceptional,” he said. 

“I think everybody that’s played footy, been involved with footy in country WA has been affected by Glenn one way or another in a positive way and I really applaud what he’s done.”

Like Barndon, Shadbolt said the best thing about being involved in country footy was the friendships built over the years. 

“I’ve appreciated our friendship over the years and I think that’s one of the most important parts about about being involved in sport, and especially widely involved as Glenn has been, and still is, the amount of acquaintances and good friends he’s made over that time,” he said. 

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