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The loss of Martin Flanagan’s AFL column is a blow to footy’s soul | Russell Jackson

The Age journalist is moving on. What a sad time for the culture of the game, and the health and diversity of its coverage, as he disappears from regular view

The Queen’s birthday long weekend has never traditionally been the time for sporting epiphanies, but on Monday I couldn’t help remarking upon the neat dovetailing of two significant events. The first actually came in the lead-up, when it became apparent The Age’s much-loved football writer Martin Flanagan had written his final column, the second when Melbourne’s Jack Watts, so often maligned by the haughty and uncaring, gathered a pass, strolled imperiously through the 50-metre arc and stroked through the game-clinching goal against Collingwood.

It was a moment tailor-made for Flanagan. For decades he’s been the champion of the misunderstood, and the heart, soul and conscience of a football media whose descent into self-important bombast manages to tailspin further every season. What a sad time for the culture of the game, and the health and diversity of its coverage, that such a warm and inquisitive friend is disappearing from regular view. As I reached the midway point of his final missive on my smartphone, a video advertisement for Hungry Jacks invaded the entire screen. At moments like these we must look inward too.

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