Almanac Footy Teams – Political Football


I have assembled a team of VFL/AFL players with namesakes who have been President or Prime Minister of a country. This week seems an apt time to publish it.


Notes on selection:


This is the best 22* players I could come up with who share their surname with a 20th/21st-century head of government. It allows only one player per leader, a restriction might have cost the likes of Josh Kennedy and ‘Mopsy’ Fraser a spot. There are two Wilsons because, Woodrow and Harold.


I excluded only Smiths, for the combined weight of legal and practical reasons. Many would argue that Ian Smith was not the legitimate leader of Rhodesia; but anyway, there are too damn many champions of that name. Sorry to Bernie, Norm, Len, Ross, etc, etc. (Jonno Brown nearly missed out too, on the latter basis.)


It turns out the leaders are all from the Anglosphere. I’d be grateful to hear ANY player surname that matches a non-Anglo leader.


* The last two on interchange, it is fair to say, are not in the best 22. They get their guernsey solely for matching both first and second names. The other one in that category, John Kennedy, gets there on merit.



B: Bob (‘Tas’) Johnson (Melb), Rod Carter (Fitz/Syd), Steven May (GC/Melb)


HB: Kevin Heath (Haw), Paul Abbott (Haw/Fitz), Sam Fisher (StK)


C: George Bruce (Carl), Tim Watson (Ess), Ian Law (Haw)


HF: John Kennedy Jr (Haw), Ken Fraser (Ess), David McMahon (Fitz)


F: Brian Wilson (Foots/NM/Melb/StK), Jonathan Brown (Bris), David King (NM)


R: Clark Keating (Bris) (capt.), Dustin Martin (Rich), Garry Wilson (Fitz)


Inter: Ryan Turnbull (WC), Tom Lynch (GC/Rich), Richard Nixon (Rich), David Cameron (Gee/Bris)



Captain: Clark Keating, for knocking off two extras (Canada, NZ) with his given name.



Coach: ‘Checker’ Hughes



Umpire: ‘Razor’ Ray Chamberlain (at least no one can accuse him of being an appeaser)



Counts from the above names, not counting the Clarks:


Australian PM: 9


British PM: 7


US President: 5


Canadian PM: 2


Irish Taoiseach: 1



Matching surnames to their namesakes is left as an exercise for the reader.



Out: Albert Morrison (Foots)



To be considered when available: George Shorten (Ess)



For other novelty footy teams, click HERE.


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About Andrew Gaylard

Andrew used to do computers; now he does books and writing. 1963, 2007, 2009 and 2011 were particularly good years in his football-following life.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well compiled Andrew.

    PNG’s PM Peter O’Neill has at least eight namesakes – Terry (Sth Melb/Fitzroy) and Bob (Richmond) are examples.

  2. Neil Hawke was a brilliant footballer for my West Torrens and for East Perth (where he kicked 114 goals in 1959). Won 2 flags there and played interstate footy for both SA and WA. Strongly built with great hands and mobility. Gave up footy to concentrate on cricket where he opened the bowling for Australia in 27 Tests and was a handy late order batsman. Got down to a 2 handicap at golf later in life. One of the great all round sportsmen (and PM) who deserves a spot in the side.
    Paul Hawke – 114 games for Sydney and Collingwood if we must stick to VFL players.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played PB (he says kicking himself).

    Clement Attlee / Shaun or Joe Atley were near misses.

  4. Mark Duffett says

    A non-Anglo nomination: Chris Schmidt (West Adelaide/Bris/Adel).

    Watch this space for another political team…

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Another near miss: Helmut Kohl / Michael and Nigel Kol

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Lee Kuan Yew / Dick Lee (Collingwood)

  7. Paul Roos-evelt? Staying Presidential – Vic (Harry) Truman (11 games – Carlton & Fitzroy). Chris (Ulysses S) Grant (Bulldogs). Taylor, Marcus or Frank “Bluey” (John Quincy) Adams.
    Bill Churchill (17 games – South Melbourne) would never surrender.
    Non Anglo countries – Vincente Fox (Mexican President 2000-06) and St Kilda’s Lindsay or Sydney’s Robbie.
    Near miss for Josh Francou (Port Adelaide) and Spanish dictator for 36 years Francisco Franco.
    Current Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and long term Geelong President Frank.
    Friedrich Ebert (Russell, Craig, Brett, Brad) was President, Prime Minister and Chancellor of Germany for various periods after WW1.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    From outside the Anglosphere – Graeme Brandt (South Melbourne)/ Willi Brandt (West Germany).

    Josh Francou (Port Adelaide) spells his name differently from the former Spanish dictator but the pronunciation is the same.

  9. To the best of my knowledge, the name Lindner has no president qualifications, however Bruce Lindner (Crows and West Adelaide) was known, here in SA anyway as “The President” or “Pres”

  10. Very timely, Andrew.
    Well played!

  11. Andrew Gaylard says

    Thanks to all responders, and especially the handful of non-Anglosphere nominations. Of those, Peter’s Ebert was a standout – he and ‘Swish”s Lee are perhaps the two that have a genuine claim in the best 22 under the somewhat restrictive terms of my project.

    Neil Hawke did spring to mind when I was flipping through our own country’s leaders (gee, that term doesn’t seem to apply these days). My earliest memories of first-class cricket involve him and Garth McKenzie bowling for their State (yes, children, Shield cricket was a thing in those days) and country. Because I have little info on interstate history, and like to lead a rules-based existence, I let him go through to the keeper, but he was so damn great he did really warrant an asterisk.

    As a Cats supporter I must note that Fox and O’Neill both have Geelong associates, in the first case a premiership player, but neither could break into the side. I couldn’t fit any Cats in except for David Cameron under the full-name rule, but a favourite of mine, Gordon ‘Butch’ Reid, came close, and The Prez (great get, Fisho) is another contender for an asterisk.

  12. Andrew Gaylard says

    I forgot that it’s customary to include a musician for team song purposes. George Clinton would go well, on the basis that (a) he was a leader in Parliament, and (b) he could use his namesake on sax.

  13. Andrew, I would now have Douglal Howard (Port Adelaide/St Kilda) at centre half back instead of Paul Abbott. I would also have Ricky Nixon (Carlton/St Kilda/Hawthorn) on the interchange bench instead of Richard Nixon. The following players weren’t the best but because of their surname I had to mention Doug Menzies (Footscray 14 games 1937 – 1939), Wal Gillard (Collingwood 37 games 1897-1899) and Billy Rudd (21 games for Richmond 1917-1918).

  14. Andrew, I also think that the following players also deserve to be mentioned, by having an Australian Prime Minister’s surname but who weren’t good enough to make your team:

    John Holt 71 games for North Melbourne 1981 -1988, Shane Watson (Collingwood 141 games 1992 – 2000), Jarry Lyons (Adelaide, Gold Coast, Brisbane Lions), Hugh McEwen (Fitzroy 32 games 1897-1901). I know you mentioned Albert Morrison who won 2 best and fairests for Footscray but Peter Morrison was a pretty handy footballer for South Melbourne from 1976-1981, playing 91 games in total for South Melbourne and Footscray. I know you mentioned Checker Hughes as the coach but for a player Danny Hughes from Melbourne and Adelaide played a total of 135 games.

  15. Andrew, another political surname suggestion for a musician or musicians is the Australian rock band, The Whitlams, as The West Coast Eagles have now got a more pop music version to their club song and the club song for GWS could almost pass for the famous pop song “Moscow”.

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