Revolutionary new fans’ organisation and it’s absolutely fair dinkum


Footy fans are feeling a tad disenfranchised at the moment.

This year we watched helplessly as the AFL and Essendon did their best to fight to the death, teams imploded internally and superstar players got poached by teams that didn’t even need them.

Not to mention clubs fined for not tanking, Ahmed Saad’s positive test for a banned substance and footy food and merchandise prices continuing to rise faster than the Grand Final sprint.

What fans think about any of these issues often appears to be the last thing on the minds of AFL or individual club officials.

Too often marketers, like the genius who decided to charge Geelong non-members to watch training at a time when many face losing their jobs, put money ahead of their club’s biggest asset – its supporters.

Thankfully an immediate outcry saw that decision swiftly snuffed. But the fact it was made in the first place is an indictment on how clubs are run these days.

Us fans love our footy and know clubs are all need big bucks to stay or become competitive. But we don’t think it’s too much to expect a bit of a say about how this is done.

After all, we are the game’s biggest stakeholder.

But when fans complain about yet another increase to already exorbitant food prices, we’re told the AFL has nothing to do with the prices caterers charge.

When clubs charge $20 for photos with star players and premiership cups, we’re told the clubs have got to make that money somehow.

And when we complain about missing out on Grand Final tickets to corporate freeloaders, we’re told such “stakeholders” must be looked after first, even if they haven’t attended a game all year.

It’s time for change.

The AFL Fans Association (AFLFA) hopes to give fans of all types a voice when it comes to football decisions affecting them.

The AFLFA will fight for grassroots fans while recognising that certain decisions need to be made in the game’s best interests. We will not just complain for the sake of complaining, and will recognise good decisions when they were made.

Through its new website,, and a facebook page that has been live since 2011, the AFLFA needs as many supporters to join as possible so it can become a genuine force in football.

Anyone can join for free via the website.

AFLFA founder and President Brian Clarke, a Hawthorn fan with a long involvement in growing AFL internationally, is passionate about formalising fans’ involvement in the game.

“The AFLFA has been established to give AFL fans a vehicle to express their views and have their voice heard,” he says in the site. “We all recognise that Australian football today is a business as well as a sport. However, it is the fans who keep this business afloat. If we did not turn up week after week to support our clubs, there would be no AFL.

“The players have the AFL Players Association, the coaches have the AFL Coaches Association and the umpires have the AFL Umpires Association. However, the fans have very little representation. The AFLFA aims to change that and give fans a real voice in the future direction of our great game.”

Collingwood Cheer Squad stalwart Jeff “Joffa” Corfe is AFLFA Vice President and keen to see the passion of fans recognised.

“It cannot be found at your local 24 hour convenience store, it cannot be purchased online, it cannot be borrowed and you will not find it in your back pocket,” he says.

“Passion is something within one’s soul, orchestrated by the heart and bypassed by the mind. To wear one’s heart on sleeve is a true sign of passion; it controls you, it defines who you are, it can get you in trouble.

“Passion at times can be very much misunderstood. Passion is what leads thousands of Collingwood fans to deliver the haunting long slow Collingwood chant or Richmond fans giving the biggest roar when welcoming their side onto the arena for their first final in decades.

“Which leads me to ask and inquire about the state of passion within our terraces at any AFL game. Have we somewhat become silenced by the evolving process, or God forbid could it be something that is now seen as offensive? Have clubs instructed ground security that as soon as they see and or hear it to quash it and even remove the offenders?

“In 2013 I didn’t like what I saw.”

As a Richmond member with three paid-up (but not always passionate) Tiger cubs, I am also on the AFLFA committee as Press Officer, with businessman Anthony Nanfra as Secretary and my husband and fellow Tiger tragic and accountant Brian Roy as Treasurer.

We hope all fans will visit the site, become members and have their say.


AFLFA personnel


Brian Clarke, President
Born in Amsterdam, Brian Clarke grew up in Darwin and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get a kick with the Nightcliff Football Club. A law graduate, his business background includes the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and AFL Queensland. He also spent 5 years in London growing the game in the UK and Europe. He has been involved in the game for many years as a player, coach, umpire and administrator. Brian has been responsible for the creation of such concepts as the AFL International Cup, Harmony Cup, EU Cup, Team Africa and Global Footy. He is based in Melbourne and is a proud supporter of the mighty Hawks.


Joffa Corfe, Vice President
Joffa is a dedicated family person who works with the homeless with various mental health and addiction issues. Joffa is also an ambassador for Epilepsy Victoria, Hepatitis Victoria and Reclink. Well known for his gold jacket antics in the Collingwood Cheersquad along with his very own movie ‘Joffa the Movie’, filmed in London, Scotland and Melbourne.
Joffa Corfe is a proud Collingwood Supporter but in recent times believes that the fans of our great game have not been consulted on many issues that have confronted the AFL. Joffa believes the game is all about the fans!


Anthony Nanfra, Secretary
Anthony has been involved in all grades of football since learning to kick a sock down the hallway over 40 years ago. The pinnacle award in his career was the under 12 most improved at Glen Waverley Hawks FC. After football Anthony ran a very successful retail business that he recently sold to concentrate on his philanthropic ambitions. A footy tragic, Anthony has been responsible for many firsts in footy. He set up the very first web site in the A grade amateurs in 1998. A Bomber fan all of his life, Anthony has coined tunes about the Bombers that went absolutely nowhere on the charts. Anthony loves life and looks forward to serving the members of the AFL Fans Association.


Brian Roy, Treasurer
Brian Roy is an accountant who has followed Richmond all his life, attending the 1973, 1974 and 1980 Grand Final wins with his late father George, who lived in Richmond after migrating from Ireland in the 1950s. Brian believes the AFL has generally done a good job over the past 10 years but refuses to attend games at “stupid” times such as Sunday twilight. He says AFL football in the 21st century is well run but fans have never had much of a say about the game.


Cheryl Critchley, Press Officer
Cheryl Critchley is a Melbourne freelance journalist and lifelong Richmond supporter who loves AFL football but is concerned about how its corporatisation affects grassroots fans, particularly when it comes to having a voice and securing Grand Final tickets when their team participates. With her husband Brian Roy and children Jess, Bec and Ben, Cheryl is a Richmond Football Club and cheer squad member, attends most games and writes about football for publications such as The Footy Almanac. She also wrote a book about the corporatisation of AFL football, Our Footy; Real Fans vs Big Bucks (Wilkinson Publishing).





  1. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Terrific initiative Cheryl. I have joined and will spread the word on the association far and wide. It’s time for fans to reclaim the game !!!

  2. Cheryl Critchley says

    Excellent thanks Phil! I know we’re shovelling the proverbial up hill, but its worth a try and I think fans have a lot to contribute to footy debate. Until now they have not really had a collective voice when it comes to important issues. If we can develop this that might just change – a bit. We have some press releases going out probably mid-late Jan when people turn their attention to the footy again, so look out for those. Thanks heaps for your support.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ditto I will join in what has been the most disappointing year in history re football administration and controversies we should have a go let’s not forget the imprtant role the magnificent site we are on at the moment plays and keep the , Knackery growing

  4. Neil Anderson says

    You’ve fired up the Bulldog in me Cheryl and so have joined your association. Also gave me something to write about as I start up on that new-fangled facebooky thing.
    I was particularly concerned about the treatment of the Bulldog cheer-squad stalwarts.

  5. Peter Schumacher says

    Have also joined. The really big issue for me used to be delayed telecasts which isn’t a problem since I started paying $85 per month to FOXTEL. Still, this should not have been necessary.

    Even allowing for commercial imperatives (wherever and what ever they are) there are so many aspects of the presentation of the game these days which absolutely rile me that anyone or any organisation that or which is prepared to attempt to do something to allowthe average humble barracker a fair go has to be supported. I’il even forgive Joffa the times that he has seriously annoyed me given his CV and the fact that he is willing to be involved.

  6. Best of luck with the organisation Cheryl. At risk of being a wet blanket, a few cautionary words based on my experience with these sort of things over the decades.
    A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
    Fans voices need to be heard. Vote with your feet; your dollars; or your remote control. That impacts the powerful. Voice your opinions by all means, but remember they are like noses (or other bodily accoutrements) – everyone’s got one and they are all different.
    I suggest the Association keep its focus narrow to maintain cohesiveness and coherence. My suggestions are:
    – The game should focus on skill over athleticism (most of the things fans generally detest are the result of the reverse).
    – The reduction of the influence of money and consumerism on the game (again that impacts on many things).
    My view would be restrict your advocacy to a couple of clear principles like this (or whatever the committee decides) and stay out of the endless trivia/noise of most AFL debate – like the future of the Great Helmsman. That is what the Hun; Big Footy and the Almanac are for.
    The Association should aim to be a respected voice and not rent-a-voice for whenever SEN needs to fill 5 minutes or #7 needs a 15 second picture grab.
    As for my pet issue – rule changes:
    When I started watching footy there were no interchanges, only 2 permanent substitutes. There was no out of bounds on the full. There was one umpire who was generally wheezing 50 metres behind the play by the second half. There was no centre square and no 50 metre arc on the ground. Flick passes were legal.
    These rules had applied for 80 years – some were good, but some were redundant and being exploited by coaches (kicking out to waste time etc etc).
    So which version of the rules of the last 120 years does the AFLFA want to preserve??
    Personally I want the flick pass brought back – it is a cleaner more skilful disposal than the scoop throw of 2013.
    And umpires coach week-by-week interpretation changes are more annoying than rule changes.
    So here is another principle to argue for – transparency.
    If rules favour skill over Malthouse/Lyon/Roos manic athleticism – more power to them. And issue a Friday afternoon press release on the matters discussed at the umpires panel meeting. That way we all know what is on the umpire’s minds and what we can expect.
    Hope this is constructive. All the best with your initiative.

  7. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks guys for all that great food for thought – and Peter I really appreciate your tips. I agree we need to come up with some sort of charter/set of principles we want to enshrine. But we’ll probably wait until we get results from the surveys on the sites and talk to more fans before finalising. I think we need a set of ideas and then to react to stories when necessary. We’re also going to raise issues we hear about that haven’t been aired or need to be aired. It’s a work in progress and we will partly be guided by what the members want. I do realise it’s a big ask to manage something like this but I think it’s worth a try. Feel free to list the issues you want looked at and I’ll keep an eye on them.

  8. Steve Fahey says

    Great work Cheryl and associates. There are no sponsors without the fans, and we are often taken for granted. Monday and Thursday night football ? Of course we attend and/or watch because our team is playing and it is then considered a success, leaving us in a conundrum.

    I hope that you liaise with the AFLMA – while they exist just for the rights and opinions of AFL members they will have learnt some lessons in forging relevant relationships.

  9. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Steve. I was wondering if the AFLMA was still active – do you have a contact for them? I

  10. Thanks Cheryl, it struck a chord with me immediately..
    As I was joining I wondered “Where will this end up?”. Could experience some turbulence**, but the intent is to “do good” and issues can be resolved, hence it gets my support.
    ** First issue to me is setting direction when the bona-fides of your membership can’t be established. The players, coaches and umpires know who their membership is, so this is more straight forward and can be ratified easily.

  11. Steve Fahey says

    I am not sure Cheryl as I’m not an AFL member, but used to be on their mailing list because the concept had merit and I was interested to see what they did. Their contact details are certainly not easy to find on Google !

    I can locate a couple of email addresses via searching old email but am not sure if any are current. They are [email protected] [email protected] .

  12. Cheryl Critchley says

    No worries thanks Steve. Hopefully we can find them. I heard they were active for a while but it died down when they didn’t get very far. Hopefully that won’t happen to us!

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