It’s becoming apparent that sporting prowess has been a popular
path into politics, but the question remains as to whether these people
have made effective members of parliament. Sure, there’s been some good
ones like Ray Groom but many sporting types wouldn’t have a clue about
politics. Take former Geelong centre half-forward and Footy Show layabout Billy Brownless – you only need to read this hilarious transcript from a Mark Willacy story on PM in 1999 to get a sense of what can happen when a bonehead toys with entering politics.

Meanwhile, here are another ten sporting names who made the
transition and five more who fell short of the desired career change
into politics:

Ten more sporting types who made it into Parliament

Michael Cleary: Triple international (rugby union, rugby league,
Commonwealth Games athletics) – ALP member for Coogee in NSW parliament
1974-91, minister for sport 1981-88.

Brian Dixon: Played for Melb and coached North – Member for St Kilda and Minister for Yoof, sport and Rec


John Fahey:
NSW Liberal Premier and federal Finance Minister who previously played first grade rugby league for Canterbury-Bankstown.

Alan Grice:
Former car racing driver won the Queensland
state seat of Broadwater in 1992 but was swept from office with a 13%
swing at the 2001 election.

Ray Groom:
Liberal Premier of
Tasmania 1992-96 who also played 92 games for Melbourne from 1963-68
and even won the best and fairest trophy in 1968.

Mac Holten:
Collingwood centre-half-back
who played 82 games and went on to hold the Federal seat of Indi for the Nationals in the 1960-70s.

Kevin Ryan: Dual rugby union and rugby league international in
the 1950s and 1960s, who then went on to hold the NSW state seat of
Hurstville for Labor from 1976–84.

Frank Stewart: Federal ALP member who played rugby league for Canterbury-Bankstown in the late 1940s.

Tom Uren:
Whitlam government minister and ALP legend who contested the Australian heavyweight boxing championship in 1941.


Peter Watson:
1968 Olympian and sub four minute mile runner who won
the WA
state seat of Albany in 2001 for the ALP after 27 years with the
Liberals, but it reverted back in 2005 so he was a one term wonder.

Five more who tried and failed

Mike Bowden: Richmond premiership player and father of current players Joel and Patrick.
Unsuccessfully stood for Labor in Araluen in Alice Springs in 2001

Carl Ditterich: St Kilda and Melbourne thug who got close to
winning the Victorian seat of Swan Hill as an independent in 1999.

Barry ‘the grasshopper’
Gomersall:
The former rugby league
referee has run for the NSW seat of Mirani at the last five elections – in 1989 as a Liberal candidate, then three elections
as the Labor candidate and as an Independent in 2001.

Peter Thomson:
Golfer par excellence but failed to be elected as
a NSW Liberal State MLC, although his son Andrew then held
Wentworth and was Tourism Minister in the first Howard Government
before being sacked over the phone.

Dirk Wellham: Test cricketer and Sheffield Shield captain for three
states (NSW, Qld, Tas) – unsuccessfully sought Liberal pre-selection for
a NSW state seat in the early 1990s.

Peter Fray

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