AFL: What’s your team’s election day approval rating

by Michael Rees

Following the state elections in South Australia & Tasmania last weekend and the commencement of the “faux” campaign earlier this week with Rudd & Abbott debating the issue of health care, speculation is rife that a July/August federal election is a distinct possibility. This would result in Australians voting in a “Winter” Poll for the first time since 11 July 1987, a poll in which Bob Hawke’s Australian Labor Party defeated John Howard and the Coalition 86 seats to 62.

This got me thinking – How successful has my team been on days when Australians have voted in a federal election? The answer is pretty good for a team with one Premiership in 85 attempts.

I have chosen the 1946 election as my starting point as this was the first Federal election that Bob Menzies’ newly formed Liberal Party contested. The only game played that day was the Preliminary Final between Melbourne (16.17-113) and Collingwood (14.16-100). If not for a draw a fortnight earlier between Essendon & the Pies in the Second Semi Final, polling day would have clashed with that One day in September.

Since the ‘46 election held on Saturday 28 September, a vote that resulted in Ben Chifley’s Labor Party being returned to power despite a 0.22% swing to the Libs, there have been 5 other occasions where footy has clashed with Federal elections – these being

  • April 28 1951 – Menzies returned and later attempts to ban the Communist Party of Australia at a subsequent referendum. Pat Cash Snr makes his debut with Hawthorn
  • May 9 1953 – Half Senate elections held. John Coleman kicks 10 for the Dons
  • May 29 1954 – Following on from the Petrov affair, a slight swing to Evatt’s ALP is not enough to gain power from Menzies & the Liberal Party. Coleman has another day out bagging 14 against Fitzroy
  • May 18 1974 – Liberals pick up 3 seats. Gough fails to get control of the upper house resulting in a very “interesting” 18 months prior to his dismissal. Max Crow debuts with 4 goals in The Windy Hill Brawl. Enough said.
  • July 11 1987 – “Joh for P.M” What were they thinking? And how? North Melbourne have 3 players with double digits higher than 50, Sholl (51), Clarkson (57) & Kerr (59). Despite the weight of numbers they defeat Fitzroy at the MCG

As the most recent “Footy” election occurred almost 23 years ago, of the non-Victorian teams in the AFL (VFL as it was then) both SA teams & Fremantle didn’t exist. Sydney, West Coast & Brisbane Bears played the second half of what was a split Round 16 of the 1987 season

So, should your team fear a winter poll, or is food poisoning resulting from a dodgy sausage in bread at your local Primary school/Polling Booth your main concern should K Rudd visit the Quentin Bryce and call for an end of financial year election ?

The answer may lie below.

A few more irrelevancies to ponder

  • The last time Victorians were required to vote in both State & Federal elections in the same calendar year was 1961 – perhaps another omen for Dogs supporters to cling to. Whilst their last appearance in the big one resulted in a loss to the Hawks, they may find it easier to cover Brendan Edwards this time as he will be 74 years old come match day
  • Essendon will be hoping for an Abbott led Coalition victory, as their 4 wins coincided with victories to the conservative parties. This would be good news for fans such as Costello, Reith & Peacock. Not so good for Kirner and current No1 ticket holder Lindsay Tanner. The Dons only loss came on Election Day 1974 – Gough’s last hurrah. Billy Snedden said “while we didn’t win, we didn’t lose either”. They lost.
  • Only two current venues (MCG 5 times & Kardinia Park – once in 1974) have hosted games on the previously mentioned election days.
  • No player on any of the 16 AFL lists would have been old enough to vote, and only 5 of the current senior coaches (Craig, Eade, Malthouse, Williams & Worsfold) would have been eligible to vote, in the July 1987 poll.


  1. cow shed end says

    Love your work mic. Dogs flying in the Senator McLellan trophy, if this inundation of silverware continues we will have to buy a trophy cabinet with 2 shelves!

  2. Martin Reeves says


    Any explanation as to why the Dogs got themselves up for the occasion on election day? Can we assume that those playing for South Melbourne were generally apathetic at the polls? Were the Dons out to maintain the status quo, hence their strong record?

  3. Mic

    You’ve convinced me. I am going to put my house on the Dogs this year to win in September as there is a good chance the election will be held around Finals time.
    As for the Bombers, your stats show that they can look forward confidently to being premiership contenders in 2013 when the liberals make a serious run at government. Surely they cant be serious with Lycra Man…

  4. # 2 Martin: I think it had more to do with the Dogs being a handy side around the early 50’s rather than any inspiration they may have garnered from Election Day excitement. As for the Bloods, their only Poll Day victory was attained on 18 May 1974 (Gough’s Double Dissolution Poll) against the Blue Bloods of Melbourne. Two losses for Billy Sneddden that day. The Dons home ground of Windy Hill was in the one-time marginal seat of Maribyrnong – only became a safe ALP seat during the tenure of Moss Cass – where did his moustache go ?

    # 3 Chris: Dons more likely than Libs in 2013. Or 2016 for that matter………..

  5. Martin Reeves says

    Mic – I think Costello would prefer a Club over Party win in ’13 or ’16 now he’s not involved. Your thoughts?

  6. # 5 Martin: Would the Libs consider “re-drafting” PC if they are routed in the upcoming poll ? A number of the next-generation of Libs who hold marginal seats may not be returned should the party suffer a crushing defeat later in the year.

  7. Mic Rees says

    Sorry folks, got it wrong. Was reminded yesterday that Victorians voted in a State & Federal election in 1996. I’ll try and get it correct next time.


  8. After last week’s demolition of the Doggies, I really did need to have another look at the ladder above. Thanks.

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