The Road To Glory

Matty Johns and Jonathan Brown talk life beyond the footy field

What’s inside the August issue of Foxtel magazine?

Sporting rivalries run deep in Australia, from cricket to supercars, tennis and football in all its codes. Fortunately, there’s none of that on display when we bring NRL legend Matty Johns and AFL stalwart Jonathan Brown together.

While the pair has met around the traps, they’ve never spent a lot of time together, yet their camaraderie is instant. As they talk nonstop – mainly sport-related but also other issues, including how much screentime is okay for children – the laughs keep coming. The world’s evolved since the pair hung up their footy boots, and their advice to players coming up through the ranks is poignant. “Stay off Twitter,” Brown beseeches. “Seriously. I don’t see any gains they get out of that. But I reckon the biggest thing is: just try to enjoy it. Work hard, but enjoy yourself, because they’re the best years of your life.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Johns: “I agree that avoiding social media and enjoyment go hand in hand. The old saying is: ‘Imagine if you went around and knew what everyone was thinking about you.’ Well that’s now, isn’t it? That’s Twitter.” For his part, Johns isn’t privy to trolls in his own life, admitting: “I’m not on Twitter. I’m naive. I don’t even own a computer. I don’t even know how to turn a computer on. So that’s good!”

For the couch critics of Gogglebox Australia, now heading into its 10th season, the experience has been lifechanging. Audiences have a soft spot in particular for Emmie from the Silbery household. At 90, she may well be the oldest woman in Australia making a regular television appearance. While she hates watching herself on TV, Emmie loves being approached by people who tell her they’re big fans. “In the beginning, I thought, ‘What am I going to add to all this?’ because I thought I was pretty dumb, but the things I say seem to amuse people and they get a laugh,” she explains.

That photo of Tayla Harris making an impressive kick during this year’s AFLW season started an important dialogue after trolls made derogatory comments about it online. “It’s definitely something that’s less about me and more about the conversation now, which I’m very glad about,” she says. A force to be reckoned with as she juggles careers in both the AFLW and boxing, the undefeated boxer returns to the ring this month fighting Renee Gartner on the undercard for Tim Tszyu and Dwight Ritchie. “I get a little bit of criticism for doing two sports, so I may as well just show the world that I’m absolutely a boxer and I also play footy; I’m not a footy-playing boxer,” Harris insists. “Both are my career.”