Magpie Fans are LOUDer and PROUDer than the rest

Collingwood Football Club is proud. The staff (of which I am proud to be one), the players – both past and present, the coaches, the football Department, the volunteers, the CEO, the President and more clear-cut: the many, many exuberant, colourful and loyal supporters, all share one common denominator. They would give up anything for the mighty black and white stripes or the Magpie symbol.

When I first started as a trainee working for AFL Shared Services in administration, I was a little shocked when they had me assigned to work in the Collingwood Membership call centre. It became very obvious for me from day one that die-hard Collingwood members knew they weren’t alone; they were aware of their stance as the AFL’s top team off the field, loved by each other and loathed by the rest – Collingwood somehow manages to divide families on weekends, unlike any other club. In fact, the Pies’ fans work tirelessly to continue to build the image of the club as the most outrageous supporter base, true to their passion. An example of this was the ‘March to October’ advertisement filmed at Gosch’s Paddock this year. The number of people who turned up dressed in their supporter gear before the season had even begun was unheard of.

I remember one heart-achingly passionate member was trying to break a record of watching the 2010 Grand Final replay as many times as he possibly could. I think he was up to 34 times (this was in January earlier this year) when I last spoke to him. With any luck, I assume he has reached a three figure milestone by now. Another man, who became a favourite member of mine, used to send into the club photos of his Collingwood-decorated, black and white painted ute. There’s no doubt the strength and success of the club has derived from the support it has off the field. The Army, which right now boasts over 72,000 signed up in season 2011, a record in AFL membership history, breaking Collingwood’s 2010 members’ figure, is scarily growing as they continue to do so well on the field.

Despite what you hear the numbers are exact and non-tampered with, no pets, goldfish or non-match day entitlement memberships are included in the figure (I can speak from proof after seeing the reports!). Sure, there are three game passes but other clubs have tinkered onto that idea. The ‘numbers’ though are more than the abbreviated bunch you see behind the goals of the famous Ponsford Stand end cheering ever so loudly at the MCG each time they play there (although Joffa’s team put in a very fine effort), they are all different types of real people near and far equally passionate as any Collingwood member – be it local, regional, interstate or international, wealthy and struggling, young and old, multicultural and affluent, they will call the club each with their own story.

I soon loved my job for the interesting people you speak with. The story-telling was endless. Magnificent stories that you would hear about the Coventrys being the friendliest people and Bobby Rose always having time for you no matter who you were. Then there were the days of the old Collingwood Social Club at Victoria Park. Oh, how members miss that place but at the same time realise the changes made due to the popularity and growth of the game.

During the season the week-to-week rollercoaster starts with what could be a range of emotions. Drama is inevitable. There’s excitement following the weekend win, or conversely pity is experienced at a cruel loss but always there will be next week, while a draw is 2 points they received but 2 extra points they should have received but were taken away from them by poor umpiring. Any player reported is discussed to death as well as injuries. ‘Did you see Cloke’s arms get chopped four times? Absolute joke. I know he would’ve missed the shot because he can’t kick but still it was a free.’ ‘What a disgrace!’ ‘I don’t want to be put through that kind of performance ever again?’

Or there is joy… ‘How about Leon’s snap from the boundary?? You bewwdy!!!’ ‘I sat right behind where Dids kicked his 70m torp… It looked better on TV but I will never forget it!’ “Beams is the next big thing, you watch.” The fans will attend no matter where the Pies are positioned on the AFL ladder. But last year they were on top, so demand for excellence was reiterated by our bosses and to all staff. ‘It’s our job to please members by helping them so know what they’re calling about,’ was the message given to us. By the end of the week with match day around the corner there were concise enquiries, ‘Just tell me where I’m sitting’ they’d say. ‘How do I log on and buy a ticket online when I don’t know how to use a computer?’ After talking them through and making sure their query was answered, it was onto the next call. Most of all, the one question that kept coming up was, ‘Where’s my membership card? It’s not too much to ask, is it?’ Sometimes, for whatever reason, it can be a little trickier than it seems, but all in all the club is there to support the members. Mistakes can occur. I was told early on, just don’t tell them this: “It’s just a footy game.” Otherwise, you will be eating your words for the next forty minutes.

An historic day remembered by all at the AFL was when the phones died and interrupted the peace that usually exists in the offices. This was not due to a Telstra fault or any other technical fault. Collingwood had released its sale for the 2010 Copeland Trophy tickets and the number to call was the membership hotline. The entire AFL had lost its phone connection due to the massive intake of callers.

At the call centre, there are two periods at the start of the season and two periods at the end of the season. At the start, there is before and after ANZAC Day, while at the end there is before and after the finals period. After ANZAC Day there is usually a bit of peace. In 2009, unfortunately the finals period was short-lived but in true Collingwood style the players came out the next season and obliterated the 2009 premier in the preliminary final giving its fans a historic fine performance to savour for years and an entry into a Grand Final. The finals period drained on a week longer than expected, after the Pies found it hard to conquer the Saints in week one but could not have lost it with a second chance seven days later. It was worth it all. The emotion and joy was amazing to all. I was ecstatic for the club and most of all the many fans. Most fans were overjoyed the club were able to win for the first time in twenty years. Others, well, they just knew. One lady was adamant it would happen for her and after it did, she questioned ‘Why wouldn’t Collingwood have been the best?’

If you think dealing with a sea of Magpies’s fans is hard enough at the footy, try answering calls off them every single day.

Justin Kremmer now works in the Merchandise department but was in the Membership department at the biggest club in the AFL during a successful period. 


  1. John Butler says


    Ever run into Digger? :)

  2. Alovesupreme says

    The reference in your header to “loud” reminds me of something I read from the early nineties. An academic took a sound meter to a Collingwood match at Waverley – where the open air might have been expected to moderate the effect. He registered numbers like 102 and 105 decibels, which I understand is getting close to the limits of human tolerance, after goals were scored at the peak of a close match.
    I can’t think how to tease out the details of this sketchy memory of mine, but would love if it prompted other Almanackers.

  3. Richard Naco says


    Yeah, your lot are all saints!

    (No – wait – that’s St Kilda’s mob, innitt?)

    Spare us the hagiography, and attempt a little bit of humility in future. The fans I personally really respect right now are those ironed on supporters of the Roos, Power and Lions, because they are doing it toughest of all. They are the ones who show pride and faith and resilience and untold optimisim in the midst of trying times for their clubs.

    There’s nothing difficult about barracking for the teams dominating the competition right now, although they too have their hard honest core of true believers who have done the hard yards during the hard times of the past. But those who support the perennial under achievers, or those whose clubs are struggling to break even, they are the most noble and proudest of supporters.

    It is said that “empty drums make the loudest noise”. Congratulations on being the loudest.

  4. Justin Kremmer says


    As mentioned I was not given an option of who I’d work for. The other clubs I could have worked with were North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne or St Kilda. If I was given a choice I’d probably have chosen Geelong, the team I follow, however the travel would not have suited and due to other commitments living away from home in Melbourne wasn’t an option. I could have been writing an inside perspective for another footy club but I haven’t been involved with any others. Hopefully you can respect my decision to therefore write about Collingwood supporters because me, a Geelong Cats avid follower and lifelong member, was able to appreciate their spirit and enthusiasm. As I referred to, Pies’ fans are loved by each other, loathed by the rest. Perhaps I am the exception.

  5. Clearisghted says

    That’s a tough gig, Justin!

  6. Clearisghted says

    That’s a tough gig, Justin!

  7. Open and honest Justin. Good.

    I am not sure whether it is justified but every time I see ,or think of Collingwood, I think of ‘Uncle Arthur’ and ‘The Minder.’

    There is something that appears crass and / gaudy about them.

    Keep the faith with the Cats and the job with the Pies.

    Cheers, Phantom.

  8. Adam Muyt says

    Jamie, thanks for the insighst.

    I appreciate Collingwood’s culture and their fans passions but just because there are more of them doesn’t make them the most passionate. Loud, yes and probably the loudest based on sheer numbers. Proudest? Well, even fans of ‘shit’ clubs with little success in recent times or few flags overall, usually feel a sense of pride, and hence attachment, to their clubs. Flag success puffs one up but the lack of a flag doesn’t equate to a lack of passion.

  9. Ramon Dobb says

    Thanks for the “outsider’s” view from the inside. Talk about a hand-grenade for a debut article. Just as Collingwood polarises the footy community I see you are already copping it from the haters and as one of the Collingwood lovers, I enjoyed reading about your experience with the Collingwood family.

    As a Pies fan that grew up with the heartache of the 70s and 80s – the joyous but all too brief drought breaking success of the 1990 premiership year – and then another 20 years of hard times I’m extremely happy to be enjoying success again and being part of a passionate, loud and proud Collingwood family. I don’t particularly care two hoots about whether we think we are or if anyone sees us as “good, better, best” as a supporter base – when you are part of it you just know you are part of something special. In the Pies history our supporters have always stuck with their team – yes we may be puffed up with pride and passion after the 2010 flag, but in our most recent darkest days of 1999 you need only look at the “celebrations” at the final game at Victoria Park for a display of the same sense of passion and pride.

    We’ve copped all the jokes and venomous abuse and generalisations over all my years of supporting and we just brush it off and keep supporting our club. A bit like that one hit wonder song by Chumbawamba “I get knocked down, I get up again” – I think that’s why they hate us so much, because no matter what anyone throws at us, we dust it off and keep supporting our club.

    Go Pies
    Floreat Pica.

  10. Danielle says

    We may be hated, but we are the most passionate supporters in the AFL.
    the fact that we are hated only highlights this fact.
    It may be a case of Australia Vs Collingwood, but with our numbers, standing side by side we don’t give a stuff about anyone else, we have each other.

    Go Pies <3


  11. Danielle says

    ps- i agree we are the loudest!!! :P
    ive got a good set of lungs- the evidence is that people move seats away from me soon after the team has done its warm up ;)
    One of these people being my own cousin.
    Thats right, im loud and crazy enough to drive my own blood away lol

  12. Thanks Justin. To think you didn’t even mention you were a Cats fan in the original copy!
    I am relieved you enjoy your job; I don’t know if I could do it.

    The biggest compliment I can offer to ‘Pies fans is that they would be happy to have Collingwood as the only team in the AFL.

    I have a Collingwood mate who fervently argues for a breakaway comp “so the commies at the AFL get the point that we don’t care about North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Footscray and all the other pissweak bottom feeders not fit to call themselves a real club.”

    Personally, my favourite Collingwood fans effort was a large silver sign unvieled post-game by the cheersquad in 2008. The Pies had just beaten cellar dwellers Melbourne at the MCG. I was attending with my Melbourne supporting partner.
    It read: “Season de-Bailed, now f##K off our ground!”

    Thanks ‘Pies fans! Charming to the last!

  13. Clearisghted says

    All supporters feel passion for their clubs. All teams have supporters who turn on their own, but Collingwood have more of them. Collingwood’s wins during seasons 2010 and 2011 (thus far) has created the unusual scenario of the club’s ‘passionate’ supporters actually staying to the final siren.

  14. Barry Burgenstein says


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