Sport Talk Points To Julia

We live in interesting times: Julia Gillard is the national leader. She was born in Wales, the home of Bread of Heaven, which is what we’re all looking for really.

They say rugby is the game played in heaven. It is certainly the game of the Gryffs and Myfs, but the Gillards immigrated to Australia, and the new PM grew up in Adelaide. So she’s a footy fan.

She went to Unley High School just around the corner from the home ground of the double blues: the mighty Sturt Football Club.

Having banged a few heads in student politics and studied law, she moved to Melbourne, to the working class suburbs at the fag end of the Westgate Bridge. She worked as a solicitor, sometimes closely with the unions.

She effected a Friday-night-on-the-Southern-Comfort-in-Deer-Park voice, and started to barrack for the old Footscray, before the modern marketing gurus re-branded it the Western Bulldogs. She should have turned her head south-west; she is a natural Geelong type.

She made her way in the ALP, winding up as deputy PM and saying recently. “there’s more chance of me playing full forward for the Dogs than there [was] any chance of change in the Labor Party.”

Her rise demonstrated that along the way she learnt that to be successful in Australian politics you have to talk sport like you know what you’re on about.

To understand the remarkable events in national life over the past week – the demise of Kevin Rudd, and the rise of Ms. Gillard – is to look at their records in this crucial area.

Kevin Rudd’s sports talk was diabolical: so bad that a couple of early indications suggested that Mr Rudd wasn’t long for The Lodge.

His ABC cricket commentary may have been awkward, but his stints on Channel 9 were worse. Calling Warney Warney (and ‘mate’) doesn’t go down well with the punters in the front bar. You have to have had a squillion sickies, belted the star ruck-rover before the first bounce in the Div 4 grand final, and tried to crack on to a gallery of Swedish back-packers in Bali to earn the right to call Warney Warney.

Then, when Mr Rudd tried to convince us he had been the wicket-keeper for the Australian Embassy’s XI in China, he didn’t inspire any confidence. (But he had Mr Howard’s offies covered)

He turned his hand to footy – most codes. On one memorable occasion (while Chris Judd was on the sidelines with injury, and doing some sort of government promo initiative for kids or whales or carbon credits) Mr Rudd had a chat with Chris Judd: at one point he explained that the Carlton captain was ‘The Juddster’ and he was ‘The Ruddster’. Hard to recover politically from that.

But he did.

And when things looked even grimmer for him he did what all pollies do: he turned to a successful national team: the Socceroos. Farewelling them he looked for his most inspirational words, “Hey, guys, just have some fun over there.”

I suspect the Caucus blame him for the Socceroos not making it through to the Round of 16. Look at the timing. The pea had barely stopped bouncing in the whistle, and the spill was on.

Meanwhile his deputy was firing on all sporting cylinders. She explained that she took political advice from Jason Akermanis (that well-known team player).

Clearly Aker has had an influence on the Gillard approach.

While Kevin Rudd was in counsel with that loose cannon and self-serving loud mouth Chris Judd, the new PM was talking with wise old Aker.

Enough said.

Game, set and match.

Amid the turmoil, the maverick member for Moreton, Graeme Perrett (rugby player, novelist and renaissance man), gave an early signal regarding his ambition when, at a door-stop, he said of his beloved ALP, “Same great team, different captain.”

With these words you’d have to say he’s on track for high office himself.

But we should have seen the timing of the coup coming. Julia, being true to her word about challenges, in a politicians’ sort of way, had to choose her week carefully. And she did.

She was never a chance of playing full-forward for the Doggies. So she went in the week old Footscray had the bye.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. John,

    the Ruddster had chooks in the back yard.

    That sounds like a “Warney” credential to me.


    Are the chooks staying at Manning Clark House? The young Harms would love them.

  2. John Butler says


    Maybe it was the bats in the belfry which worried people?

  3. JTH – I found the Ruddsters fairwell speech excruciating – except the bit where he explained that he had someone elses aortic valve implanted in his chest via an organ transplant. He said something like:

    “Nothing like having a piece of someone else in you” (followed by a very awkward silence.)

    Loved the explanation as to why some blokes can say Warney and some can’t! I reckon Warney himself would have been in the Swedish backpackers in Bali thing.

  4. Tony Robb says

    And they say nothing ever happens in Canberra. Having a front row seat as last week unfolded was sensational. In keeping with the capital’s multicultural leanings, the wheeling and dealing was undertaken in a Viet restaraunt a drop punt from Manuka Oval. One could assume that the Dogs fickle one game a year deliance with Canberra might be extended should the number 1 ticket holder get the nod at the selection table later this year.

    PS The links will be a challenge this arvo with the expected snowfalls in the ranges

  5. Ian Syson says

    Rudd intrigues me. I reckon that buried deep down in the spun mire of his personality there lies a decent enough bloke. It was just too obvious that he was gammon all the bloody time. At least he’s a better cricketer than Howard:


    Admittedly his catching is weak (though he did catch it) and his bowling is mediocre — but look at the way he gets on the front foot to a shortish ball for that slash through cover!

  6. Tony Robb says

    I saw Rudd and his minders leaving the Grand Final Breakfast in 07′. They werr out the front away from the cameras and they were mucking around with a footie just like normal bloke off to the game. I thought, theres a bloke who seems grounded even if his handball action was questionable. Time has since shown that he is more the Nathan Buckley type of leader rather than a Brad Johnston

  7. Chalkdog says

    How long have we waited for every mention of our PM to be accompanied by a mostly gratuitous reference to the Western Bulldogs! And we ARE winless since she took office!!! A conspiracy I say……

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