Some of the AFL’s most devoted fans have been recognised with 2022 AFL Fans Association awards, including one who runs his club’s supporter group while undergoing cancer treatment.
The winners are:
- Fan of the Year: Peter Kauschke, Adelaide Crows
- Supporter Group of the Year: Albury Wodonga Saints
AFL Fans Association president Cheryl Critchley says both winners are extremely deserving and exemplify the dedication of AFL diehards everywhere.
“This year’s winners are amazing,” Cheryl says. “Peter’s passion and dedication are incredible. Many fans volunteer with their clubs, but he took it to the next level this year, while being treated for cancer.
“The Albury Wodonga Saints are also worthy winners. Members of this devoted group travel to the footy from the border region in a bus and organise social and fundraising events. They’ve even sold calves and hay to raise money for their club. They do brilliant work.”
Peter, a project manager and gas expert in the grain industry, was preparing for an AFLW and SANFL game when told of his win. He was ecstatic to be recognised for his efforts while dealing with bladder cancer, which he was diagnosed with in December 2020 and is still being treated for. “That’s fantastic,” he said. “I’m honoured to be nominated. I love helping people.”
Albury Wodonga Saints President, Doug Furze was equally proud. “They’re a great group,” he said. “We don’t get to many games, but they’re pretty passionate about their footy. That’s why we see the bus as so important, because there’s nothing like a live game. When we go to games, we can all look out for each other and enjoy the game together.”
Fan of the Year: Peter Kauschke, Adelaide Crows
Peter is a foundation member of Adelaide’s men’s and women’s teams and became president of the Adelaide Crows Supporters Group (cheer squad) in 2017. He and his wife Tina are player sponsors.
Covid-permitting, Peter attends every home and away game with Tina, including interstate games. Last year while Melbourne was in lockdown, Peter flew to Perth with his son David for the Grand Final to coordinate the Western Bulldogs’ banner.
Peter cooks barbecues for the club at community events and helps organise the Melbourne Members’ Day. At banner making, he is the first to arrive and the last to leave. Some nights he also makes a SANFL or AFLW banner and spends hours organising match day tickets and sending them out.
On game day Peter arrives early to pole the banner and prepare the group’s bay, then packs up later. He even takes the banner to all away games and drove to Ballarat this year with other committee members, leaving at 1am with the banner poles and returning straight after the game.
At games, Peter is famous for his distinctive Crow call after every goal, adding colour and uniting his fellow fans. For almost two years, he has done all this while undergoing cancer treatment.
“You will notice the Crows have great support every game they go; that is thanks to Peter,” a fellow fan says. “Peter befriends other cheer squads and encourages friendly rivalry; he is never rude about any team he is the very definition of positive support.”
Says another: “Peter is a genuine great and loving person whose heart is as big as the oval and endeavours to make sure everyone is fully supported in good times and bad. Peter has struggled over the last few years with cancer and is continuing treatment but that doesn’t stop him from making sure our Adelaide Crow players are fully supported at each game, most times to the detriment of himself.”
Mel Foote, mother of Adelaide player Rory Laird, says Peter’s support is first class.
“Recently, Rory had his 200th game in Perth and Peter of course travelled over and included us in preparations of his banner and also holding the banner on the game day which was so much fun and such an honour!” Mel says. “Treasured memories for us and typical generosity of Peter.
“I know there are a lot of supporters who work tirelessly and support their teams, but Peter really does go above and beyond, year after year. But most of all he is a great person.”
Supporter Group of the Year: Albury Wodonga Saints
The Albury Wodonga Saints was established by a small group of passionate, local supporters in 1996 as the Twin City Saints - one of the oldest AFL supporter groups. Growing support in north-eastern Victoria saw it become the Albury Wodonga Saints to better reflect the region. It now has 110 members from Euroa through to Wagga, including several originals.
An important element of the group is to create regular and sustained connections with fellow AFL fans. Members have built bonds beyond football and look out for each other. During the pandemic, members were divided due to border closures soon after local bushfires.
As soon as it could, the group re-established connections and engagement with St Kilda and each other. It holds monthly dinners that have even been attended by some 1966 premiership players.
The group works tirelessly to promote AFL and St Kilda locally and enables supporters to feel a sense of belonging to their team. It supports club campaigns, including the Danny Frawley Centre, holding fundraising raffles and competitions. Members even sold hay and calves to raise funds for their club.
Many memorable bus trips down the Hume Highway have taken supporters and members to Marvel Stadium, enabling rural and regional supporters to access live football and visit facilities such as the new RSEA Park and the Danny Frawley Centre. During the pandemic, the group organised group seating so those unfamiliar with digital tickets did not have to worry.
Each year, St Kilda hosts the Albury Wodonga Saints, and its members are part of the banner and guard of honour. Travelling together also enables members to support those who need assistance with their mobility.
Those who can’t get to Melbourne watch games together in a local venue on a big screen. Group leaders organise regular social events such as pizza nights and check on the welfare of others, especially during droughts and bushfires.
Previous AFL Fans Association award winners
Fan of the Year: Sarah Bears, Sydney Swans Cheer Squad
Supporter Group of the Year: The Demon Army Ticketing Team - Rachel Hare, Beth Lockhart, Amy McIntyre, Mandy Horsburgh, and Sophie Galer.
Fan of the Year: All fans for their dedication during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Fan of the Year: Megan Harris, Rainbow Crows Secretary and Events Coordinator, and Official Crows Support Group Committee Member and Match Day Property Coordinator
Supporter Group of the Year: Side by Side Fan Page (Collingwood, run by Claudio)
Female Fan of the Year: Colleen McKaye, Crows Supporters Group (cheer squad)*
Male Fan of the Year: Shaun Dux, The Demon Army
Supporter Group of the Year: The Demon Army (cheer squad)
Female Fan of the Year: Annie Green (Adelaide Crows Supporters Group)
Male Fan of the Year: Ryan Sinclair (Demon Army)
Supporter Group of the Year: The Demon Army
Female Fan of the Year: Jan Courtin (Sydney Swans)
Male Fan of the Year: Robert Smith (Adelaide Crows Supporters group)
Supporter Group of the Year: The Adelaide Crows Supporters Group (Cheer Squad) and Essendon Cheer Squad
Female Fan of the Year: Lesley Benham (Collingwood)
Male Fan of the Year: Liam Briggs (Port Adelaide Cheer Squad)
Supporter Group of the Year: The Alberton Crowd (Port Adelaide)
The AFL Fans Association was saddened by the recent passing of 2016 female Fan of the Year Jan Courtin, a devoted Swans fan. Vale Jan.
To speak to our winners, please Email firstname.lastname@example.org.