Political Football (Coaches)

What better way to fill the void between now and the start of the AFL men’s season than reading about the top political football coaches (in alphabetical order)?


Anthony Albanese


All-out attack, even in defence. Albo’s game plan revolves around constant aggression, tagging and the occasional cheap shot when the Ump isn’t looking. He champions the under-8s seagulls-on-a-chip game plan, focusing on removing any space the opponent has in favour of continued abuse of the ball carrier and any peripheral opposing team mates. Known in footballing circles as ‘the king of scrag’, Albo’s return to the bodyline tactics of the 70s and 80s have prompted calls for his resignation, a few have even been from opponents.


Bronwyn Bishop:


Takes the “eye in the sky” motto to a new level, foregoing the coaches’ box in the stands for a seat in a helicopter hovering above the stadium. Bronwyn’s gameplan is simple: use the exact opposite strategies to the team that took home the previous year’s wooden spoon. Some pundits have claimed that this approach is borne of a ‘fear of ever appearing to be a ‘low status’ football team’. Bronwyn has suggested that these pundits are out of touch with the plebs and that her system will have flow-on effects that benefit the entire footballing public. No evidence has been presented to demonstrate how this might work. It has been noted that the Bishop approach will present an obvious challenge when, inevitably, the team she coaches ends up on the bottom of the ladder. This philosophical conundrum appears closer than ever.


George Christensen


A man whose coaching style is firmly entrenched in the ethos of the bush. Not bush footy per se, rather a genuine wildness. Unpredictable, erratic, dangerous; Christensen’s team plays with the recklessness of men unshackled by thought or any real cognitive function. It’s unclear how Christensen has managed to achieve the impossible and freed footballers from their own minds but his ability to get his players to think like he does i.e. not at all, has been declared both a masterstroke and the sign of the Apocalypse. Members also haven’t missed the incoherent sensuality that Big George has brought to the club.


Sam Dastyari and Andrew Robb

The newest duo on the scene seem an unlikely pairing at first glance. Fresh off the back of an international relations tour of Asia, and clearly keen to help expand the game into foreign markets, it is understood the pair are being very seriously considered by the GC Suns. This coaching combo reportedly has received strong support from the higher-ups at AFL house, and Gil in particular is said to harbour a soft spot for the approach taken by Dastyari and Robb. While the coaching duo bring an irreverent approach to the game, namely that they’re less interested in the business on-field and more interested in the business off it, some critics have questioned whether they’re always coaching for their team to win.


Richard Di Natale

Clinical in his approach to the game, Di Natale refuses to play through the traditional positions through the spine and instead places a high focus on alternative methods of ball movement along the wings. His players tend to cop it a bit more from the sidelines, presumably due to their direct proximity to the fringes, but the game plan has been reaping rewards and has a few of the other clubs looking to adopt his approach. Despite these positives, Di Natale does retain a few extremely odd strategies, such as making his back pockets sit in the 2nd row of the stands for the entirety of the game.


Barnaby Joyce:

The recently deposed coach’s team focused on a man-on-man defence with a big difference. He instructed his players that if they didn’t particularly like the man they were matched up on any more than they were free to go and take another one. The baffling strategy had until recently worked extremely well. Ancient news is that the coaching staff have fractured, with a few suggesting that allowing players to tag whoever they like is against the spirit of the game.


Jim Molan

Disciplined, rigorous, militaristic. Molan’s team are the best drilled team in the competition (although Andrew Hastie’s squad runs them close). Unlike Di Natale, Molan’s game plans are taken straight out of the playbook of the 1950s. It’s not just his antiquated tactics that set his team apart from the rest, he also sought an exemption from the league to allow his players to run around in long-sleeve woollen guernseys. Perfect for a cold night in Geelong, less fun for a Round 1 clash at the Gold Coast. Critics have argued that this decision may have something to do with his players’ unusually high risk of skin cancer.


Bill Shorten:

Known for his inspirational half-time speeches, delivered in monotone and laced with his infamous zingers such as ‘today we play, tomorrow we recover’, ‘We’re out here trying to win, they’re out there trying to save their jobs’ and ‘This opposition has turned bungling into a sporting event’. Bill’s game plan is dominated by possession footy, often at the expense of any form of attacking, or entertaining, football. His legendary rev-up ‘If you can’t score a goal, you can’t win a game’ appears to go both ways. Few football fans could forget watching a game when Bill’s team is involved, although most wouldn’t remember the end of them. The installation of the Captain Snooze© premium comfort section in Bay 14 for Shorten-coached games has become the hottest ticket in town for parents of newborn children and sufferers of insomnia.


Malcolm Turnbull:

Heavy speculation that, similar to another coaching Malcolm (of the Meninga variety), the Eastern Shores’ own “Big Mal’ is just a figurehead and that his team is actually run by several other people behind the scenes, most notably his wife. Malcolm introduced the irreverent, and now famous, style of changing team tactics week-to-week based solely on network viewer figures. Some, including his own players, have questioned the tactic and have even gone so far as to ignore the coach’s instructions on the field. But as Big Mal has just written the biggest donation cheque in club history there aren’t many people inside the clubhouse who are willing to listen to any calls for change.



  1. Good onya Brin, you should look at Darrell Baldock for inspiration.

    He coached St Kilda in the VFL, also coached in Tasmania, as well as being an elected MP in Tasmania.

    Where would you place Malcolm Roberts in your pantheon of coaches ?


  2. Surely Phil Cleary is a monty for this list…

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Great stuff Brin, a genuine LOL.
    Damian Drum oughta be up there.

  4. Jarrod_L says

    Good get Earl, how could Damian Drum be left out? (particularly with recent developments)

    Harry Madden another to get a guernsey?

    Also, thought the last Molan comment was great, Brin.

Leave a Comment