Diehard rugby league fans and casual observers alike united in their dislike of Phil Gould on Sunday night.
Gould copped an absolute pasting on social media from punters who accused the Channel 9 analyst of being “biased” in his commentary of Melbourne’s Grand Final win over Penrith.
Gould coached the Panthers to their first premiership in 1991 and was the club’s head of football for many years until stepping down from his post in 2019.
Melburnians are already sensitive about what they see as an anti-Storm sentiment north of the Victorian border, and they were given some extra ammunition from Gould’s work behind the microphone in the early exchanges of the season’s biggest game, convinced he was favouring the Panthers over Craig Bellamy’s troops.
It started when Storm centre Justin Olam was awarded a penalty try in the opening minutes because Panthers centre Tyrone May kicked out with his leg to prevent his opponent from grounding the ball — which is illegal.
Nine commentator Peter Sterling said at halftime it was the right decision and plenty on social media agreed. At the time Gould said: “I don’t know what Tyrone May could have done any differently there.
“It is not what I would call indiscriminate kicking but the referee ruled he’s played at the ball with his foot.”
Gould also disagreed with a knock-on call against Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau later in the first half.
“It wasn’t knocked on. He actually threw a pass that was knocked down by a Melbourne Storm player,” Gould complained. “The ruling’s wrong. The ruling’s wrong.
“Where was the linesman on that play?
“Should have been play-on.”
The way Gould kept talking up the Panthers even when they went to halftime down 22-0 also grated with an angry Melbourne audience, which was keen to make its feelings known.
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Peter Blunden tweeted: “Everything perfect so far with Storm’s Grand Final. Let’s hope it stays that way. But the anti-Melbourne commentary on Channel 9 has been nauseating. They are a disgrace. As usual.”
Shane Warne replied to Blunden’s tweet, writing: “Go on Peter!!!!!! How much do the NRL and that silly boss of theirs hate that the mighty Storm got it done again hahahah.”
Melbourne-based broadcaster Andy Maher tweeted: “Commentary already a one-sided joke.
“It’s 16-0 and he reckons the other mob are on top. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Aussie tennis star Dylan Alcott said at halftime: “22-0 to the Storm but ALL the momentum with the Panthers according to big Gus Gould. Give it a rest.”
AFL legend Shane Crawford added: “Sport is all about scoreboard pressure but apparently Phil Gould thinks @storm are struggling … (hold your breath) #pleasexplain.”
Fellow footy great Brendan Fevola said: “Phil Gould is kidding himself. Panthers on top 16-0 down,” along with some laughing face emojis.
Ex AFL reporter Rohan Connolly called Gould “biased”. “This has got to be the most pathetic call of a major sporting event I’ve ever heard. How the hell does Channel 9 cop this?” he tweeted.
Racing writer Ben Dorries wrote on social media: “Watching the NRL grand final with the sound down now. Goose Gould unlistenable.”
Courier Mail rugby league writer Travis Meyn said: “Phil Gould Pro Panther commentary. Wow.
“Between Gould’s commentary and ‘Freddy Cam’ I may struggle to make it to full-time.”
AFL journalist Lee Gaskin tweeted: “Gus Gould. Oh boy. One-eyed much.”
Steve Zemek chimed in with: “Hey @wwos if I get 1000 likes will you pull Gus Gould from the commentary box?”
After full-time, Gould tweeted about Penrith’s bad luck and he copped plenty of backlash.
“Congratulations to Storm. 2020 Premiers. However, GF could easily have gone to Panther,” he wrote. “Half-time score did not reflect 1st half action.
“Panther 20-4 second half, showed possibilities. Panther ran out of time. Cameron Smith said ‘If it goes another 2 mins, I just don’t know’.”