Sunday Herald Sun sports columnist Jon Ralph had an interesting column yesterday tracking the publicity blitz that Hawthorn Football Club president Jeff Kennett has been enjoying of late. On assuming the Presidency last December, Jeff told Hawthorn members at the AGM: “After tonight, you won’t see or hear much of me…”
This was because Jeff declared that football matters would be dealt with by coach Alastair Clarkson and CEO Ian Robson would deal with club issues. Ralph has tallied up Jeff’s recent football pronouncements and they cover the following: Fashion parade etiquette, AFL finances, drug policies, coach and player contract negotiations, finals scheduling, The Footy Show non-appearances, Kings Domain campsites, Hawks board departures, the unsustainability of ten clubs in Victoria, clubs being “chicken fed” by the AFL, the final eight and acting lessons for his players.
Unfortunately, Ralph missed the key point when he asked the question: “Is Kennett a serial attention junkie and media dial-a-quote, or is he just the man to spearhead Hawthorn’s revival as it attempts to position itself as an AFL powerhouse again?”
The answer is that Jeff is cranking up all the publicity he can get ahead of a final decision about a return to State politics. The Liberal seats of Doncaster and Warrandyte have both opened up with the recent retirements of Victor Perton and Phil Honeywood and Jeff is seriously weighing up his options.
The signs have been there for months. Journalists who call Jeff’s taxpayer-funded office in Treasury Place now hear a message with his mobile number. That zany yellow and brown Hawthorn blazer is just another example – so good in fact that The AFR had Jeff wearing it all over page one just on Friday, promoting a magazine cover story.
Then there was Jeff’s prominent role during the Kooyong preselection struggle. When the three Queensland ministers intervened, Jeff happily made himself available to the ABC in an interview that ran prominently on both radio and TV.
Gary Morgan voluntarily produced some polling numbers that showed Jeff was far more popular than the current Costello-backed Victorian Liberal leader Robert Doyle and then Doyle’s new deputy, Louise Asher, was out there with the ever-obliging Jeff banging the drum again yesterday to The Sunday Age:
“I’m a huge Jeffrey supporter,” she says. “I think Jeff Kennet