|Hi fellow footy fans.|
What a season 2021 turned out to be! We had another COVID-affected year of ups and downs, but it thankfully ended on a high (unless you follow the Bulldogs), with Melbourne breaking a 57-year premiership drought in Perth.
We hope you managed to enjoy the season given the restrictions. Most of all, we hope that you and your family stayed safe and well.
The AFLFA has had another busy year during which we did our best to support the amazing efforts of the AFL and its clubs to complete the season.
We started the year on a high when I was asked to unfurl Richmond’s 2020 premiership flag at the MCG in Round 1, partly due to my work with the AFLFA. I joined Richmond president Peggy O’Neal, who unfurled the 2019 flag.
The AFLFA continued to interact with fans on social media and through the mainstream media, while keeping tabs on issues such as COVID-affected ticketing and memberships. We plan to conduct more research on memberships over summer to ensure the loyalty of fans who have continued to support their clubs is rewarded.
The AFLFA released numerous Press Releases throughout 2021, with topics including: seeking fair distribution of tickets this season. condemning racism, which has no place in football. thanking the AFL for returning the Grand Final to its day-time slot, which proved to be a bit premature in the end! welcoming the return of banners, after the AFL Fans Association directly lobbied AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. addressing confusion surrounding ticketing early in the season. For this release we teamed up with Kylie Rogers at the AFL, who answered some common questions that fans had about COVID-affected ticketing. Victorian fans being keen to return to games. the need for the AFL to reward the loyalty of members in 2022 after two COVID-interrupted seasons with more Grand Final tickets for the competing clubs, special offers for fans and more of a say in AFL decision making. announcing our AFLFA award winners, Fan of the Year and Sydney cheer squad diehard Sarah Bears, and Supporter Group of the Year, the Demon Army Ticketing Team. This year our winners each received a $100 voucher courtesy of Chemist Warehouse. Congratulations to our worthy winners.
We published several new articles on our website in 2021 including: Me unfurling Richmond’s 2020 premiership flag. various media releases. trade period key dates. In other news, one of our original Patrons, Justin Madden, has moved on to pursue new business interests. We thank Justin for his time and his patronage, which helped the AFLFA boost its profile, and wish him well.
Vice President Justin Leckie and Treasurer Ron Issko and I did numerous interviews with newspapers and on radio and television this season, however it was by AFLFA standards, a far quieter year than usual due to Covid-19 and limited game attendance by fans. Most interviews with the AFLFA were dominated by the impact of Covid-19 on fans. I also did an interview with the BBC Sportshour about the Grand Final.
Our Inclusion Manager Debby Palti signed the AFLFA up to the Racism. It Stops With Me. Campaign. The AFLFA has long advocated against racism and we wrote to Eddie Betts to support him when he again spoke out against racist trolls. We continue to urge fans to call this behaviour out, along with homophobia and any other discrimination.
Our Secretary, Debbie Hall, has been working hard to improve seating outside Adelaide Oval for patrons who use its buggy service due to physical impairment. Debbie was involved in setting up and running the MCG buggy service. She also led a team to update and refresh our website. Make sure you have a look at www.aflfans.org.au.
Justin ran a football photo competition on Facebook that drew plenty of passionate entries that were voted according to the number of likes. In the end our winner was a touching photo of a young Port Adelaide fan who uses a wheelchair but didn’t stop him supporting his team at games.
Justin, Chris, and Strategy & Engagement Manager Sheridan Verwey progressed important work on seeking sponsorships and ensuring that the ALFA continues to be run professionally so that it can maximise opportunities to work with other organisations and potential sponsors that can strengthen the AFLFA without compromising its integrity.
Towards the end of the season, Sheridan conducted a fan survey. It covers all issues of concern including ticketing, gambling, umpiring, memberships, racism, the match day experience and more. We also asked fans what they would like to ask AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, and will be preparing a package for Gill including the survey results, questions, and several polls we conducted
Our end of season polls showed fans overwhelmingly dislike the ‘stand’ rule and want the Day Grand Final to Return.
The AFLFA poll was picked up by The Age and sparked several other stories, in which I said we would advocate for a day Grand Final given the overwhelming fan support for it.
Following Melbourne’s drought-breaking premiership, Ron purchased a limited edition Herald Sun Demons poster in memory of his parents to donate to a deserving fan. When it arrives, we’ll ask our Facebook and Twitter followers to nominate someone they think deserves the poster, which will be framed by fellow committee member Debby Palti.
Finally, a shout out to our hard-working committee, state and territory reps, and volunteers. This year they included our Patrons, Susan Alberti AC and Justin Madden, Ambassador Brett ‘Trout’ Beattie, outgoing IT specialist Paul Bugeja, his replacement Larry Blode, and social media specialist Lynton Martin.
We’d like to thank outgoing committee member Chris Swifte, who has done a terrific job for the past two seasons but will now concentrate on his relatively new consulting business. Chris is a dedicated North Melbourne supporter and used his business acumen to help advise the AFLFA on sponsorship, while securing Chemist Warehouse vouchers for us to use as prizes.
We also welcome Collingwood diehard Sheridan, who joined the Magpie army thanks to persuasive neighbours when she was a child and is now working hard to ensure her four children become devoted Magpies. Sheridan brings a range of important skills from the corporate world, which will no doubt be greatly appreciated.
And a big thank you to all our members and social media supporters, who are the reason the AFLFA exists – to give fans a voice.
Please let us know if you would like to hear from us more often by email. Many of us interact on social media but we may have some members who don’t. If you would like more regular updates, have any other suggestions, or would like to volunteer to help us grow, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope that things will finally return to normal in 2022 and that the AFLFA can raise its voice once again to ensure that fans have a say in how football is run and on issues that affect them such as ticketing, memberships, and the match day experience.
Until 2022, enjoy the off season and congratulations to the Dees!