“I’m going to have to move on and just be a fan like everybody else.”
Seven said McAvaney, known and loved for his superlatives, knowledge and passion for the sports he covers, had called more than a thousand games of Australian rules football, including 20 grand finals.
His last game calling AFL football was the 2020 grand final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba, which was won by the Tigers.
The 67-year-old will continue to lead Channel Seven’s horse racing coverage, and will be behind the microphone for the Tokyo Olympics in July and August, assuming the Games go ahead. He said he was not pondering full-on retirement.
“It’s not anything close to retirement. It’s just a new phase where I have cut back slightly. Anything I am asked to do at Seven I am going to do with the same enthusiasm and the same commitment,” he said.
‘I felt like I got to a stage in my career where I had to reduce my workload.’
“I still feel like there is a bright future. In a ridiculous way, I still feel like I haven’t reached my potential. I still want to get better and that’s what I am hoping to do over the next few years.
“For those that like me on air, they are still going to see me. For those that say “shoosh”, bad luck.″
McAvaney began his career in Adelaide with Channel Seven in 1978. Perhaps his most famous moment was the call of Cathy Freeman’s gold medal-winning run of the 400 metres final at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
In 2017 McAvaney revealed he was living with leukemia, which he continues to manage, although he said health was not the reason for him moving away from AFL calling.
In a statement at the time, McAvaney said he felt well but the serious illness “could jump out of the ground at any moment”.
“I don’t expect it will. But I am living a complete life with no restrictions,” he said.
He pulled out of calling the Australian Open that year because of the illness.
Former North Melbourne president James Brayshaw will step into McAvaney’s shoes and fill the void he leaves on the Friday night football broadcasting team.
McAvaney was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002 for his service to sports broadcasting and the community through charity work and sporting organisations.
He was also made a member of the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 2002.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.