Billy Brownless has spoken of how the dust has finally settled from his spat with Garry Lyon after he ran off with his wife and moved in with his children.
The affair sent shockwaves through the AFL community in 2016 after it emerged Lyon – Brownless’ best mate and Footy Show colleague – had started a relationship with Billy’s wife of 18 years, Nicky.
Brownless was at the time open with his emotions over the messy family feud – claiming Nicky and Lyon had earlier told them they were ‘just good friends’.
‘You don’t touch a man’s wallet; you don’t touch his wife,’ he famously told the program’s audience after Nicky’s new relationship was made public.
Five years on, Brownless said he was in a ‘good spot’ with both his ex-wife and Lyon – while admitting the process of reconciliation had ‘taken time’.
Billy Brownless and Nicky Brownless (left) with Gary Lyon and Melissa Lyon (right) in 2012. Lyon famously started a relationship with Nicky – Billy Brownless’ wife of 18 years
Brownless and Lyon (left and right) in 2013. ‘You don’t touch a man’s wallet; you don’t touch his wife,’ Brownless said over the family tensions at the time
Brownless, 53, addressed the issue with fellow AFL greats Sam Newman and Don Scott on an episode of the pair’s You Cannot Be Serious podcast.
‘You know I’m going to ask you this – people want to know how you and Garry Lyon are going on,’ Newman said at the tail end of the podcast posted on Tuesday.
‘At the time you go through all different emotions of course,’ Brownless responded. ‘”Why me?” and a bit of hatred of course.
‘But now mate, it’s been four or five years, I’ve come around and everyone is in a good spot to be honest. Garry and Nicky are – that’s fine – and the kids are.
‘That was the other big problem. Young Maxy was about 10, Oscar was about 14, the girls [Lucy and Ruby] were 16, 17.’
Brownless admitted it was a ‘shame’ the fallout had occurred given how close he was to his friend – with Newman recalling how they had all enjoyed a trip away in the years before for Lyon’s 40th birthday.
‘It was so public – that was the biggest problem. It was so public. On TV, in the papers, front page of the Geelong Addy,’ Brownless said.
Brownless with his daughters Lucy and Ruby at Flemington Racecourse in 2017. Brownless said in a podcast published on Tuesday the break-up had been more difficult by the young age of his children. Young Maxy was about 10, Oscar was about 14, the girls were 16, 17,’ he said
Garry Lyon and Nicky Brownless at a memorial for Danny Frawley in September 2019. Brownless said he was now in a ‘good spot’ with both his ex-wife and Lyon
‘It was hard at the time because it was so public and I’d walk into a coffee shop and I’d swear everyone was looking at me and talking about me – and they weren’t.’
Brownless conceded though he had not fully regained the friendship with Lyon they once had – saying the pair ‘might be’ able to be mates like before at some point.
‘There’s no Christmas cards yet but we have spoken a couple of times,’ he said.
‘The kids live with Garry and Nicky and things like that.’
When probed on how long it had taken for him to move on from the split, Brownless said two years was too short, but five years may be more accurate.
Nicky Brownless attends on Oaks Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne a year after her affair with Lyon was revealed
‘There’s no problems, we’re in a good space, he’s in a good space, Nicky is, the kids are and so am I. But that has taken time. It has,’ Brownless said.
Earlier this year, Brownless and Lyon appeared on TV together for the first time since their close friendship was shattered.
While the former close mates and star AFL forwards partially set their differences to appear on the same program, it was only possible with the aid of pre-record.
Brownless only appeared on TV for the first time with Lyon since the fallout this year in a pre-recorded Fox Footy show
Sam Newman (right with Lyon and Brownless in 2013) recalled in the podcast how they had all enjoyed a trip away in the years before the split for Lyon’s 40th birthday
Lyon appeared as a panellist on Fox Footy while Brownless’ segment for bookmaker PointsBet – the show’s sponsor – was recorded earlier.
‘It’s all pre-recorded so it’s all good. I’ve done a little bit with PointsBet and I enjoy it,’ Brownless said.
In March of 2016 – one month after he found out about the affair – Brownless opened up in a tearful Footy Show interview about the toll it had taken on him.
‘I couldn’t believe it. I found out three or four months ago,’ Brownless said at the time.
‘I asked Garry and Nicky earlier on what is going on and they said they were just good friends. That’s what hurts the most.
‘By law it’s legal. Morally it’s wrong. We all know our rights and wrongs. You don’t touch a man’s wallet; you don’t touch his wife.’
He ended his long-term friendship with Lyon, saying ‘a good mate wouldn’t do that’.
Brownless’ (pictured) Footy Show co-host Lyon blindsided him in 2016 by starting a relationship with his wife of 18 years
In January this year, Brownless told TV Week magazine that it ‘wasn’t easy’ to deal with the affair being played out in the media, but he has finally being able to move on with his personal and public life.
‘It took a while for me to go to a café or a pub and not think, “Everyone is looking at me and they know.” But really, all of that was in my head,’ the father-of-four said.
During his stint on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! in January, Brownless said being dumped by his wife took him by surprise and knocked him about emotionally, but also had financial ramifications.
Brownless said he was ‘homeless’ after Nicky (pictured the year before in 2013) left him and kept the house
‘[It was] a shocking two or three years. No good,’ he explained to former Collingwood star Dale Thomas.
‘I didn’t have a home… and I couldn’t buy one, I didn’t have the money to buy one. So you’re actually like a homeless person. If you wanted to have the kids, you’d get them to a motel.’
Brownless the previous week told another fellow contestant, entertainer Rhonda Burchmore, Nicky simply ‘fell out of love’ with him.
‘About a year later she shacked up with one of my mates,’ he said.
Brownless told Burchmore he ‘doesn’t think’ anything went on behind his back while they were married.
Thomas said he too was a mess after a breakup that forced him to hide his feelings from his teammates.
‘There were times when I’d rock up to training, and sit in the car, and be in tears… then be the court jester to try and hide (his emotions),’ he said.
‘I was liked for that, but I knew I was being a fraud.’