CrikeySports_markAre we headed to a Federal election in August? The ABC’s phenomenal psephologist Antony Green believes that we could be heading to the polls as early as August 21.

Which begs the question: which political party is the best party for AFL?

In order to answer this I seeked the assistance of my colleague Richard Farmer who is a living and breathing encyclopaedia when it comes to all things politics. He has been a an election campaign tactician and a media adviser to three federal leaders of the ALP ––Whitlam, Hayden and Hawke. He also knows a thing or two about football having served as a director of the North Melbourne Football Club.

So I asked Richard which political party has been the better friend to AFL/VFL over the years? To which he replied:

John Howard was definitely football’s friend — or at least the friend of the Western Bulldogs. He showered largesse on the David Smorgon team to do up the Western Oval or whatever they call it these days — all in the name of community development. And now those fortunate Dogs have the Deputy Prime Minister as their number one ticket holder and lo and behold the Department of Education has become a match day sponsor!

Over at North Melbourne they must be quite cross that their number one man Simon Crean failed to deliver the bickies to do up the dilapidated Arden Street but perhaps the State Government came across first.

Whoever is in power, the time for the AFL to strike, whether it is government state or federal, is in an election year as was recently proved with the NSW State Labor Government forking out $20 million or so to make the Showgrounds into a suitable venue for the new Western Sydney side. And that was after conning money last time around to do up an oval at Campbelltown as a training venue. Two State Government funded ovals was a mighty achievement that Andrew Demetriou can be proud of.

So has if you are an AFL fan who should you wish to see win the upcoming election?

Well according to Richard, “history shows us that best party for the AFL is the one that wins. For winning politicians have the power of the purse even if they are loathe to open it until election day comes near.

North Melbourne vs. Carlton — 7.40pm Friday June 11, Etihad Stadium

In my opinion North Melbourne don’t get the recognition they deserve in pioneering Friday night football. So kudos to them in being able to celebrate 25 years of Friday night football. Their win last week against Brisbane was testimony to the sort of endeavour North Melbourne are famous for. But they need to win again — to string a few victories together. Ruckman David Hale is out injured and Ben Warren returns for the Kangaroos.

Carlton are currently sitting fifth on the ladder and traveling beautifully. I keep expecting them to stumble and they keep making me look an idiot. I’m really impressed by the Blues this year. A lot went wrong for them in the off season and it appears to have galvanised them — as good clubs do. The midfield, brilliant led by Chris Judd, is wonderful and it keeps getting better with each game they play. Joe Anderson makes way for Dennis Armfield. I like the name Dennis.

For this reason alone I am picking the Carlton.

Blues by 24

Hawthorn vs. Adelaide — 2.10pm Saturday June 12, Aurora Stadium

When Hawthorn started the season badly everyone should have just shut up. Because the criticism aimed at Hawthorn for their pathetic start was akin to throwing a phone at Russell Crowe. The Hawks have fired up. They are in the eight and they want to prove to all and sundry that they belong there. Lance Franklin is back. And the Hawks do like playing in Tasmania.

Adelaide turned back the clock  to … well … late last year with their emphatic win over Fremantle last week. Many jokes have been made that Tyson Edwards should retire every week if that’s the way they are going to play their football. They were wonderful last week — and Crows fans would be scratching their head at why that sort of footy couldn’t be played by the tricolours each and every week. While they may have beaten my team last week — I have nothing but respect and adulation for the manner in which the Crows played and I tip my hat to one young fellow in particular. Phil Davis was crunched by freak giant Aaron Sandilands in a marking contest. It was bravery personified.

The Crows may just get something out of 2010 if they play that way every week.

But the Hawks won’t let this won get away.

Hawks by 21

Essendon vs. Geelong — 7.10pm Saturday June 12, Etihad Stadium

Essendon were outplayed by Sydney last week. Hurt by the loss or ruckman David Hille they came up short. Dustin Fletcher and Brent Stanton will be welcome inclusions for the Bombers this week but Essendon must be wondering why they keep getting beaten up by the injury stick. The Bombers play Etihad well — but is their best good enough to beat the peerless Geelong? I just can’t see it. Especially if Cameron Ling closes out Stanton or Watson.

What can you say about Geelong that hasn’t already been said? It appears that the only that can stop them is a severe cull due to injury or an internal implosion due to Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett overtures. Paul Chapman is a freak. But so too are Ablett, Selwood and Stevie Johnson. It’s hard to comprehend the Cats forfeiting this one. The only question mark is the their forward options after losing Tom Hawkins and Cameron Mooney — but they have James Podsiadly. I wish Essendon all the best.

Cats by 32

Port Adelaide vs. Sydney — 7.10pm Saturday June 12, AAMI Stadium

Port Adelaide weren’t bad last week. But they aren’t going to match it with many teams the way they are playing at the moment. After losing to Richmond in their previous home game at AAMI — they will want to do their supporters proud — but I think they will be trouble here. I keep banging on about Robbie Gray — but his absence hurts the Power — because I truly believe he can be an elite player for Port.

Where Sydney will win this game is the ruck. Shane Mumford has been in superb touch for the Swans. And although I rate Dean Brogan highly — he’s going to have to wind back the clock to match it with the inform Mumford. The Swans midfield, led by Jude Bolton who refuses to give an inch, will be too strong here. Sydney’s win last week will do their confidence the world of good and they welcome back Tadhg Kennelly and Ben McGlynn — both of whom are super important to Sydney’s game plan.

Swans by 13

Richmond vs. West Coast — 1.10pm Sunday June 13, MCG

Can Richmond keep their momentum going? Four weeks ago I would have said that Richmond beating West Coast in Round 12 was fairy tale stuff — even with the way the Eagles were playing. But there’s something wonderful about Richmond right now. It’s like watching a baby learn to walk. Or someone making a martini cocktail. Or maybe a combination of both. Anyway, I am very impressed with Damian Hardwick and what’s he brought to this club. And Jack Reiwoldt will be  superstar for Richmond.

Despite being more than competitive against Geelong last week — West Coast’s lack of midfield pace and its woeful kicking skills cost them. I’m not sure how they can address both these things in the short term but senior players such as Andrew Embley must be in the coach’s sights. The most pleasing thing for me after watching the Cats/Eagles game was the efforts of Beau Waters. While his kicking was wayward — his brutal endeavour could not be questioned. If all 22 Eagles played like him they would be a monty for to win this match.

I think the Tigers will win this.

Richmond by 7

Western Bulldogs vs. Brisbane — 2.10pm Sunday June 13, Etihad Stadium

When the Western Bulldogs need inspiration, I turn to First Dog on the moon. My colleague, and Crikey’s cartoonist, loves this club. But even he didn’t go to the game last week against Collingwood. There’s some dark clouds around Whitten Oval at the moment. Where’s the energy gone? Where’s the excitement? Robert Murphy returns but Shaun Higgins is out injured. The Dogs need to rekindle their vows. They need to win this game.

Brisbane have probably been hit hardest by injury than any other team. Just about their entire first 18 back six are out due to injury. That’ll hurt any team. Voss must be wondering if he ran over Lou Richards’ cat. Travis Johnstone was superb last week and Jonathan Brown is clearly carrying an injury. And I like the cut of Tom Rockliff’s jib.

But the Doggies should win.

Dogs by 27

Fremantle vs. St Kilda — 2.40pm Sunday June 13, Subiaco Oval

Freo were burnt by an on fire Adelaide last week. Now they face a tougher challenge in playing St Kilda. If Fremantle play like they did against the Crows then the Saints will smash them. Somehow holding Goddard and Montana will be the key. Michael Barlow was superb again last week. He’s on track for All Australian which could be unprecedented for a rookie listed player in their debut year. Pavlich will need to tear this game apart for Fremantle to get the points.

It’s Stephen Milne’s 200th game. Milne’s a strange one — loved by Saints supporters — despised by everyone else. You have to hand it to him though — it’s a fantastic achievement. And Brendon Goddard is just about the most damaging player in the competition right about now. He can do everything. Fremantle will be hoping he misses St Kilda’s chartered plane.

Match of the round and a tough one to pick.

Freo by 2

Melbourne vs. Collingwood — 2.10pm Monday June 14, MCG

It’s the Queen’s Birthday game. Melbourne will hurt without their inspirational skipper James McDonald. Many people accuse this of being Melbourne’s grand final — and if that’s the case then the loss of “Junior” will come at some cost.

It’s hard to see how Collingwood can lose this. Perhaps blockbuster fatigue? If Melbourne’s kids fire up and catch Collingwood off pace (like they finished the Dogs games last week) then the impossible is not out of the question.

There should be too much class in Collingwood’s side.

Pies by 31