Footy royalty, movers and shakers rub shoulders at Gill’s farewell bash

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

It’s farewell to Gillon McLachlan, the man who in his final week as AFL overlord is putting the Melba back into Melbourne.

As in, he’s making more personal appearances than Dame Nellie Melba’s farewell tour – which, as history records, was quite a lot.

Gillon McLachlan was farewelled at a fun bash in Prahran.Credit: Paul Jeffers

Grand final week is a gruelling one on our function circuit but when it doubles as McLachlan’s last week in the job after a nine-year stint things kick up a notch.

On Wednesday, he was in the MCG Olympic Room for the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pitcher Partners grand final luncheon, revealing his WhatApp bromance with superstar Robbie Williams, who was lined up to grace the grand final with his presence if Carlton made it.

By Thursday night, a glitterati of Australian sport gathered at Chapel Street icon Sophia for McLachlan’s official farewell party.

Unsurprisingly, Collingwood were to the fore. President Jeff Browne, his predecessor Eddie McGuire and chief executive Craig Kelly, set aside big game nerves to mingle with club bosses from the other lesser 17 clubs. Ex-Hawthorn prez and ex-Victorian prem Jeff Kennett was there to chew the ear off anyone who would listen. JK’s recent icy phone call with the great man over McLachlan’s insistence on building a stadium in Tasmania, revealed in Good Weekend magazine, not enough to get him cancelled from the guest list.

McLachlan at his last Brownlow as CEO, with executives Kylie Rogers (left), Laura Kane and incoming CEO Andrew Dillon Credit: Getty Images

The renowned dealmaker invited plenty of people who have glared at him across the negotiating table over the years for his final social flex. TV execs in the room included Seven’s Lewis Martin and Foxtel boss Patrick Delany, while AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh was glowing, fresh from inking a rich new collective bargaining agreement.

Footy royalty was present, too. Former Essendon champion and Voice walker Michael Long turned up, along with Pies champion and former coach Nathan Buckley and Geelong skipper Patrick Dangerfield.

CBD did not spot former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews in the crowd. Once you are out, you are out, we guess. Sage advice for Gill.

The AFL’s answer to Prince Harry, Hamish McLachlan, emceed the event.

The theme of Gill’s farewell speech was We Are Family. McLachlan made a point of sticking up for his embattled AFL Commission (and Qantas) chairman Richard Goyder.

Robbie Williams with Delta Goodrem at last year’s grand final.Credit: Scott Barbour

In return Goyder, commercial boss Kylie Rogers, Travis Auld (who missed out on succeeding McLachlan and departed to run the Australian Grand Prix Corporation) and AFL spinner-in-chief Brian Walsh all paid fulsome tribute. As did incoming chief Andrew Dillon, known to all by the unflattering moniker of “Dills”.

The execs gently roasted their outgoing overlord for his obsessive use of PCR and RAT tests and patrolling of the pool deck to enforce social distancing in the Gold Coast hub during the 2020 COVID season, and for his love of a celebrity encounter.

Surplus to his WhatsApping with Williams, the room heard how Gill had danced with Delta Goodrem and in 2019 popped up alongside Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth at a Western Bulldogs game.

McLachlan was lauded for his care for his staff and for steering football through the pandemic. “Footy will find a way,” was McLachlan’s mantra.

McLachlan officially embraces his new life as a has-been on Monday at 5pm. Before then is the AFL grand final luncheon, and then he’ll take his seat among more than 100,000 of his nearest and dearest gathered at the MCG in time for the first bounce on Saturday.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article