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globalrugbyleague - Wed, 28 Nov 2007 06:23:00 GMT
Where do you think you're goin', Lady is a biographic title attributed to the trials veteran broadcaster Debbie Spillane faced when attempting to get into football dressing rooms for post-match comments.

"I used to try and get down under the grandstand to go to the dressing rooms after rugby league matches and invariably there'd be some cranky old guy saying, 'Ay - where do you think you're goin', lady? and they'd hold my media pass up to the light to see if it was genuine."

And why did she face these trials while her male colleagues did not?

According to one theory promoted by a prominent league personality, Spillane allegedly just wanted an excuse to see men take their clothes off. Never mind the fact that she grew up in a sporting family or knew her footy inside out.

Spillane provides a 263 page response in her own words.

A serious answer to the title of the book though is very far.

From commentating at the Los Angeles Olympics for the ABC as the national broadcaster's first female full-time sports broadcaster - a fact she doesn't go out of her way to boast about - to covering and 'being included' in the Bulldogs grand final win of 1984, there's no doubt that as a journalist Spillane has had a rich life.

Spillane - who kick started her career on radio - quickly proved that she didn't need affirmative action or any other 'leg up' to mould a name for herself in the male aligned world of sports journalism. Within weeks of being discovered, she was doing freelance writing on cricket.
Her passion for sport - developed as a zealous teenage cricket umpire in Sydney's western suburbs and as a weekly follower of Rugby League - combined with her versatile knowledge makes it hard to believe she would've ended up doing anything else.

Well she did...for a little while.

She sang in pubs and ran a record shop with her second husband until she entered the 2GB Sports Talent search and was a runner-up to Jon Harker (the nappysan guy). It did not matter where she finished in the contest. Her name and talent were finally exposed.

Like the sportsmen and women she witnessed both as a fan and journalist, Spillane doesn't hold back in commentating on the good, the bad and sometimes the very painful and ugly side that goes with working in the media.

Perhaps another title for this book could be "a brief history of employment in Australia" - as it is a personal look at the way the nation was so backwards in it's thinking on workforce participation even as late as the eighties.

It's not so much the concept of a female beating the odds in a male dominated industry that makes this book appealing but rather the witty and cheeky techniques used to overcome the unnecessary obstacles.
This is a story which gives the middle finger to anyone who has ever tried to stand in the way of those individuals seeking to fulfill their own great Australian dream.
Where Do You Think You're goin', Lady?
Published by Allen and Unwin
RRP for $29.95
GRL Grade: 7 balls out of ten
Available: All good leading bookstores

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