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Rare audio: Remembering Harry Beitzel and his special relationship

Article image for Rare audio: Remembering Harry Beitzel and his special relationship

Photo above: Herald Sun

Words by Simon Owens

Much will be written about the late Harry Beitzel today but no one can tell the Harry Beitzel story like Harry Beitzel. Before we get to that though, here’s why Harry Beitzel is important to 3AW.

Harry Beitzel took over from the great Norman Banks and preceded Rex Hunt, calling alongside Bill Jacobs. Historically he was a key player in 3AW Football’s commentary history.

Click here to hear Harry Beitzel calling football on 3AW

1944 was a landmark year in football. That was the year the VFL decided all radio stations were permitted to call Victorian Football League matches. However, it was permitted for the finals only.

Those matches were called for 3AW by Bill Vickers, a retired Football player who had played three games for Essendon in 1927.

At this time calling the football was not important to 3AW, other stations did it.

3KZ had the best in the business with Norman Banks so 3AW didn’t take it seriously.  However in 1952, after a dispute with 3KZ, Norman banks came to 3AW.

So in 1953 3AW began it’s weekly, uninterrupted football commentary with Norman Banks. He would call alongside Tony Charlton, Doug Heywood and others for more than a decade when “the others” would be replaced by Bill Jacobs in 1965.

Bill and Norman would call football together until Norman’s deteriorating vision would see him leave his football calling duties in the early 1970s. It was then that Harry Beitzel would take the chair from the great Norman Banks and make it his own, calling football with Bill until 1988.

However, it wasn’t a smooth start as Harry explains here – click PLAY

Harry and Bill called football together for the next 16 years. But there was a third wheel who was vital to the success of the team. Tommy Lahiff.

Harry would go on to call football for 3AW with Bill Jacobs until Harry was poached by 3AK in 1988.

Here, Harry tells that it wasn’t his best decision – click PLAY

In this candid interview recorded with Bruce Mansfield and Philip Brady in 1992, only four years after Harry left 3AW, Harry speaks freely about his career and choices and pays tribute to his sidekick Tommy Lahiff.

Tommy happened to be listening and called in to the program.  It was a special moment.

Grab a Kleenex and hear the whole interview here – click PLAY

Harry Beitzel has passed away aged 90. He’s now back with Tommy Lahiff.

Simon Owens is a co-host of 3AW Nightline and Station Historian.