It is footy finals week in Victoria and for once a local team is in with a chance so there was no surprise that the Victorian State Government announced yesterday that it would be making a contribution for construction at the Geelong Football Club’s Kardinia Park home ground. Providing $6 million toward the cost of redeveloping the Ross Drew Stand was the least new Premier John Brumby could do for the man who stepped down to give him the job. Steve Bracks is a blue and white hooped stripe tragic and what better going away present could a Geelong supporter get.

What did surprise me was that the Federal Government had not been involved. Before the last election Prime Minister John Howard hand balled a few million to the Bulldogs from Footscray to improve their training facilities. Had the PM lost his touch? Perhaps Geelong had not sent him a track suit.

A quick bit of googling showed I should not have doubted. The State Labor Government was the johnny-come-lately with the sports lovers from Canberra having contributed to the Cats’ coffers last week. I had simply missed the announcement among the torrent of football reporting at the weekend.

Being the consummate team player, Mr Howard had brought Treasurer Peter Costello off the interchange bench to do the honours last Friday – just before Geelong won its way through to the grand final by beating Collingwood. Standing alongside the Geelong coach Mark Thompson at the MCG, the Treasurer announced a $14 million contribution to the total cost of $25 million.

That the announcement did not get a big run in the Melbourne media perhaps was a deliberate ploy on Mr Costello’s part. A devoted Essendon fan he was probably more interested in helping to lure coach Thompson back to Windy Hill than celebrating improved training facilities for Geelong. Mr Costello, ever the politician, had, in any case, done the right thing by the Liberal candidate in the seat of Corio by earlier leaking the announcement to the Geelong Advertiser

Geelong Football Club president Frank Costa called it “a fairytale at the moment the way things are falling into place for us”.

“This is the result of very good planning by a lot of people down at the football club, such as Brian Cook, and we made our first approach to Canberra 12 months ago.”

Good timing indeed – right at the end of the electoral cycle when governments are free and easy with the money of taxpayers. In politics, as in football, timing is everything.