Yet one more cheap headline
Ex-Hawthorn president and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.
RELEVANCE deprivation syndrome is a shocking affliction. It seems to strike former politicians hard. And a handful of former AFL club presidents. Or in one notable case, both.
We should have known Jeff Kennett wasn't going to be the respectful club leader his predecessor as Hawthorn chairman, Ian Dicker, had been, when the one-time premier assumed the role in 2006.
Of course, that quip when he took on the job - ''You won't be hearing much of me'' - has long since gone down in football folklore.
At least we knew by the time Kennett finally relinquished that role to Andrew Newbold four months ago that he wasn't going to just disappear. But Kennett's determination to keep his name in the spotlight is becoming quite comical.
''Silly but quotable Kennett comments'' could be its own TV show these days. But from yesterday's assortment of off-the-cuff ''this should get a rise'' moments, one was particularly grating. Yep, Jeffrey played the merger card. Again. This time Melbourne and North Melbourne.
You know how it goes. Not enough support. Stronger Melbourne brand. Blah, blah, blah. Gratuitous advice for other clubs that don't need it became something of a Kennett specialty in his Hawthorn guise. But the sheer gall and absolute hypocrisy of Kennett on the merger question is just breathtaking.
This is a man who had he had his way back in 1996 when he was premier, the Hawks wouldn't even exist in their current form.
Remember the ''Melbourne Hawks''?
There were some very enthusiastic spruikers for that idea before Dicker and Don Scott emerged to save the day, and help create the on- and off-field powerhouse Hawthorn is now. Kennett, with his premier's hat on, was one of them. ''Based on the information I have, I still say, as a Hawthorn supporter, a merge is the best option,'' he said back then.
It was a grave misreading of the dormant passion that was soon aroused among Hawthorn fans. Last year the Hawks could boast more than 56,000 members, easily the second-highest tally in the AFL, and behind only Collingwood.
Melbourne and North Melbourne? No one pretends that they're capable of matching those sort of numbers. But they are two clubs who have gone a long way to redressing their off-field problems.
The Demons have dragged themselves back to a level playing field after almost sinking under the weight of a $5 million debt. North Melbourne survived concerted attempts to shunt it off to the Gold Coast. The Roos today have state-of-the-art facilities at their Arden Street home, and a pretty handy football team. Importantly, both clubs have grown their membership over the past five years by more than 30 per cent.
Does that sound like the profile of clubs ripe for a merger? Wouldn't have thought so. But then thinking is a concept Kennett often seems to avoid, as long as it will buy him another cheap headline.