The Politics of Football


Celtic Club
316-320 Queen St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions


September 29, 2015 at 6:30pm - 8pm


Join Carlton great and former Planning Minister Justin Madden, Essendon Reserves great and Labor National Secretary George Wright, former North Melbourne Football Club head of community engagement and champion of women's football Sonja Hood -- go the Mighty Mugars! -- and Hawthorn Reserves great, writer and radio commentator Tony Wilson to discuss the politics of Australia's game at Open Labor's next public meeting: 6.30-8pm, Tuesday September 29, Celtic Club, corner of Queen and LaTrobe Streets. Gold coin donation at the door 

Forget Bill, Malcolm, Tanya and Tony (who?) -- it's Grand Final week in Melbourne and across Australia. Flags are flying, hearts are beating, Daniel Andrews has even called a holiday, bless him. But is the great game in good shape? Are fans falling out of love with football? What does free agency and big money mean for ordinary barrackers and their extraordinary passion? How are women and Indigenous players changing football and how are clubs like North Melbourne and others reaching out to their communities? Does football have too much power in Australian society? 

The Open Labor Your World is Sport Panel will discuss these and other questions, then you'll have a chance to have your say, Open Mic style. We can't promise a wood chop competition but there'll be raffles, auctions and possibly a meat tray containing Hutton's Footy Franks. It will be the most exciting event in Grand Final week apart from the game -- perhaps including the game. Come in your club colours, be loud and proud, but most of all -- be there.  
Our panel features:

Carlton legend Justin Madden, a 332-game player and one of the tallest ever, played in two premiership sides, won two best and fairest awards and came second in a Brownlow Medal. As President of the AFL Players Association from 1990 to 1997, Justin oversaw the players' first collective bargaining agreement. He was a teacher, then an architect, then Labor MLA for Essendon from 1999 to 2014. He was Minister for Sport then Minister for Planning in the Bracks-Brumby Government.

George Wright has been Labor National Secretary since 2011, after a long career as a trade unionist, Policy and Communications Director at the ACTU and press secretary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. A football tragic, George played for Essendon Reserves, North Ringwood and Melbourne University Reds and is a premiership player in the last two teams, and a Team of the Century member at North Ringwood.

Sonja Hood was General Manager of Community Engagement at the North Melbourne Football Club for five years and a member of the club’s executive. She managed the development of The Huddle, the club's highly successful program working with migrant and refugee youth in the inner north west. An expert in health services reform, Sonja is CEO of the Refuge of Hope, working with migrants and refugees. She is a passionate and not always reasonable supporter of the North Melbourne Football club and the Melbourne University Women's Football team, the Mugars. 

Tony Wilson, our panel chair, is an author, broadcaster and Hawthorn supporter who boasts a world record shortest listed AFL career and a love for sport and politics. He won the ABC's Race Around the World in 1998 and his first novel, Players, a parody of football variety show personalities, won the Sydney Morning Herald's best young Australian novelist award in 2006. His latest kids book is 'The Cow Tripped Over the Moon' and he has started a speeches website called (link) that shares speeches of all types.