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Election may mean twilight final

Ashley Browne  January 31, 2013 7:38 AM

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Last year's epic Hawthorn-Adelaide preliminary final was a twilight match

ANOTHER twilight AFL final could be on the cards this year in order to prevent a scheduling clash for the Seven Network.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Wednesday that there would be a federal election on September 14, which will clash with the second of the AFL's knockout semi-finals.

It places the Seven Network in a bind, with the semi-final set to clash with the start of the election count and, quite possibly, the announcement of the winner and both the concession and victory speeches.

However it is believed the AFL would consider bringing the Saturday afternoon forward to a twilight timeslot – if asked by Seven – so that the broadcaster could telecast the election on its main channel that evening, rather than on 7Mate or Seven Two.

There is now a precedent for Saturday twilight finals following the great success of last year's Hawthorn-Adelaide preliminary final, which was brought forward to the late afternoon in case the Crows won through and needed to head back to Adelaide that evening to commence their Grand Final preparations.

More than 69,000 fans attended the game and the TV ratings were healthy, leading AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou to call the venture "a huge success.

"Not because it rated its socks off, but because there just seemed to be a lot of children attending the game," he said.

"When you consider the game finished at about quarter to eight, it was a beautiful night, it was just a wonderful thing."

There have been at least nine federal elections to have fallen during the football season since 1946.

The most famous clash between football and elections came in 1974. Gough Whitlam was re-elected as Prime Minister on the same day that Essendon and Richmond brawled at Windy Hill.

The following Monday's newspapers gave equal space on their front pages to the election results and the aftermath of one of the nastiest football episodes for many years, one that made the usual mudslinging on the eve of the election pale by comparison.

Another notable clash between football and elections, albeit at the state level, was in 1999.

In a day of boilovers, Carlton upset raging premiership favourite Essendon in a classic preliminary final, followed a few hours later by Steve Bracks leading the ALP to a surprise win over incumbent Liberal Premier (and future Hawthorn president) Jeff Kennett.

You can follow AFL Media senior writer Ashley Browne on Twitter @afl_hashbrowne.