Media releases

Researching Gillard's football passion

A Tarneit student has spent his summer researching Julia Gillard's identity as a western suburbs footy fan.

Sport and Recreation Management student Sam Wharton has spent time researching the Prime Minister's Cup - created under Julia Gillard for the winner between Western Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney football matches – as part of a Victoria University Summer School.

The select group of students in the program each research an aspect of history in elite sporting organisations including the Western Bulldogs and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

"I chose to research the Prime Minister's Cup because I thought there was an interesting story there about what the two clubs have in common and about how Julia Gillard sees herself as a Bulldogs supporter who grew up in the Western Suburbs to become the first female PM," he said.

"As part of the project I'm asking questions about her ideas behind implementing the cup, how she identifies with the western suburbs and how she got into football, which is all pretty exciting."

Other students in the Summer School, which runs between December and February, are researching such topics as the introduction of the Bulldogs' infamous 'candy-striped' guernsey in 1935, the birth of the YCW football league in 1941, and the international development of sport halls of fame.

Sam said the opportunity to go behind the scenes of a professional sporting organisation and contribute to their legacy had been satisfying.

"You leave a day at the Bulldogs Museum feeling like you've contributed something to the club and along the way experienced another pathway you might want to follow once you graduate," he said.

Victoria University sport historian and program manager Dr Rob Hess said students - who present their findings to academic staff and club personnel in the Victoria University Whitten Oval boardroom at the end of summer school – produced some fascinating findings.

"There are always interesting snippets of history about the memorabilia associated with the club, the scandals or controversies that often erupted, and the amazing rivalries that particular players or teams had with other clubs," Dr Hess said.

"We collect all this miscellaneous research and add it to the club's database: the club appreciates the knowledge transfer because it helps them build their history and the students love it because it's such a real-life learning experience for them."


Available for interview:

Sam Wharton, student

Sport and Recreation Management, Victoria University

0429 496 400; [email protected]


Dr Rob Hess, Summer School program manager

College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University

(03) 9919 4062; [email protected]


Media contact:

Michael Quin, Research Writer

Public Affairs Department, Victoria University

(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]   

See all media releases