Replacing AFL banners with gimmicks such as inflatable sausages and blow-up lions as part of the so-called ‘match day experience’ is putting many fans off, the AFL Fans Association said today.
The Brisbane Lions will today replace the usual banner with a blow-up ‘Brion the Lion’ for its home game against Port Adelaide at the Gabba. This follows North Melbourne’s decision to dump its home game run-through for an inflatable branded sausage with a curtain hanging under it.
AFLFA president Gerry Eeman says that while the blow-ups may be a well-intentioned move by clubs, they disenfranchise hard-working club volunteers who see their roles being usurped.
“The banner, or run-through, is a time honoured AFL tradition voluntarily prepared by cheer squads each week for their team. Many volunteers have worked week-in week-out on their club’s banners for years and this role forms an integral part of their connection with their club.” Gerry says. “Banners add enormous colour to the game and give grassroots fans a real sense of purpose. Scrapping them strikes at the heart of our cheer squads and removes a unique feature of AFL football.
“Gimmicky blow-ups are an Americanised embarrassment and rob cheer squad members of a role they have relished for almost 50 years. Brisbane should work with its local cheer squad members to come up with a solution so banners can continue. Could not Brion and the banners co-exist?”
The AFLFA understands that the Brisbane-based Lions cheer squad is small, with a handful of diehards helping make the banner with help from club staff. Victorian Brisbane Lions Cheer Squad President, Lorraine Duncan, says her group will continue to make banners for games in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Tasmania.
AFLFA president Gerry Eeman says the blow-ups are part of misplaced attempts by numerous clubs to improve the ‘match day experience’ and boost crowds. Carlton has resurrected its hovercraft and clubs have introduced an array of music and gimmicks, including fireworks and flashing LED lights.
Gerry says while some of the moves have been well-received and appeal to children, many fans have told the AFLFA that they do not want or need these American-style ‘match day experiences’. Gerry added that a number of AFL fans have complained to the AFLFA about excessively loud music and announcements at games, and the new flashing LED lights ringing the boundary.
“Some fans find them annoying and distracting,” he says. “A great way for clubs to improve their fan engagement would be to ensure they play an attractive style of football.”
A range of fan comments on the match day experience and pictures of Brion the Lion can be found at www.facebook.com/aflfans and www.facebook.com/theultimatebrisbanelionsfanpage.
AFLFA membership is free and fans are encouraged to join at www.aflfans.org.au.