Former Footy Show host Garry Lyon has broken his silence in an emotional interview about his time away from the spotlight on Melbourne radio station SEN on Tuesday.
Speaking to veteran football writer Mike Sheahan, Lyon revealed he had still not spoken to former best mate Billy Brownless and was still in a relationship with Brownless’s ex-wife, Nicky.
Lyon put his media commitments on hold almost 12 months ago after it was revealed he was battling depression after a personal falling-out with his close friend and Footy Show colleague Billy Brownless.
Nicky and I are together and I am eternally grateful that she’s been able to support me through it.”
Brownless was reportedly the one who discovered the relationship between his ex-wife, Nicky, and Lyon.
“There’s no easy way to broach the subject,” Lyon told SEN during a 37-minute pre-recorded interview.
“I spoke to Bill before this became public, back a year or so ago — it’s something for he and I to work through.”
“If he wants to talk about it publicly that’s fine, but I never will.”
Lyon said he had reached out to Brownless via text message but that he had received no response.
Lyon, who played 226 AFL games for the Melbourne Football Club, was their much-loved captain and a champion centre half-forward, said he was “avoiding the private aspect of my life”.
“I was separated back in 2014, it’s hard enough to deal with separation, hard enough to deal with privately let alone publicly, when you throw in a new relationship that lots of people frown upon, a person who was once married to a friend.”
Known for his attempts to keep his private life out of the spotlight, he spoke candidly about his battle with depression, revealing he had been through some “seriously dark times”.
“I was battling, I had battled since the end of 2015,” he said.
I got myself into a hole — it’s hard to talk about this — I couldn’t get off the couch, I didn’t want to face a day. You just stop enjoying doing what you’re doing.
“Normally I would be relishing a break and getting away (at the end of the football season) but I couldn’t and didn’t.”
“It just challenges you every day. You can’t reach out, I couldn’t pick the phone up and say, ‘I’m struggling’.
“There were things that needed to happen towards the end of the year and I wasn’t able to do them (social commitments). I just couldn’t and didn’t want to.”
“When you’re on your own, sitting in a house by yourself, my relationship had broken down and you’re having these feelings about where you fit in the world.”
“I couldn’t pick the phone up, every day you didn’t it got harder to do it.”
He said he was in therapy twice a day — including meditation — and lived near Apollo Bay on Victoria’s south-west coast throughout the year with people who were “good enough, kind enough to let me live down there”.
No one has done more for me than my brother.. never been prouder of him than I am right now! #MoveOnNow
— Rick Lyon (@ricklyon) January 30, 2017
Lyon, who has three sons with his former wife, Melissa, said he spoke to his children about what had happened to him.
“It’s the hardest thing in the world, everyone wants to be a hero to your kids,” Lyon said.
“They’ve seen me doing what I do in the media, so I try and shield them from your emotions because you don’t want to worry them about how you’re feeling.”
“Inevitably, I had to have that discussion.”
“As a parent you want to protect them so you don’t want to worry them but this time I had to sit down and say, ‘Look, I’m battling with this … this is what I’m dealing with’.
“From that first conversation to now … they’ve grown as young men, they’ve taken responsibility, they’ve supported their mother through all of this, they’ve been extraordinary.”
SEN revealed in December that Lyon was set to return to the airwaves ahead of the AFL’s 2017 pre-season cup, the JLT Community Series, on February 16.
He will be part of the radio station’s new breakfast lineup with former Essendon great Tim Watson and Hamish McLachlan.