Round 7 – Brisbane v Port Adelaide: Blow-up Brion the Lion flops with most fans


from the AFL Fans Association:


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 today replaced 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 and


AFLFA membership is free and fans are encouraged to join at For more information contact:


AFLFA president Gerry Eeman. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]




  1. Cheryl Critchley says

    Looks like Brion got them over the line today! But seriously I hope this is not a taste of things to come. When it comes to fan engagement the best thing any club can do is play good footy.

  2. Dave Brown says

    Do not disagree with the basic sentiment – that clubs run a very risky game disenfranchising their most fervent and loyal supporters. However, it took Brion spewing the Lions onto the ground to break the Carlton curse. So it must have something going for it. Next home game I want them to enter the ground through a giant inflatable Brian Mannix…

  3. Citrus Bob says

    Thank you Cheryl for your insiteful comments. I might be a GOM (grumpy old man) but I am sick and tired of the continued Americanisation of AFL. Gillon has forgotten about the impact of supporters groups within clubs have and now many of “his” clubs are following suit.
    We will continue to lose the support of our grass root supporters if football continues along this path.
    For many of our banner makers it is their greatest thrill and for many a therapy. Long may they live and continue to colour our football.
    Gill, returning to grass roots includes these faithful and loyal club members. give me a go.

  4. Cheryl Critchley says

    But Dave Brion wasn’t there for the Carlton game! He was new this week :-). I agree with you Citrus Bob. Our cheer squads are the last real link between clubs and grass roots fans who can genuinely feel that they have contributed on the day. Take that away and footy will lose much of its character.

  5. Ditto CB. The whole Americanisation of sports entertainment really leaves me cold. In fact it makes me angry, because it infantilises the ‘fan experience’ for young and old alike. Going to footy matches with my grandparents, parents, then mates has been one of the great ‘educating and connecting’ experiences of my life. How can you do that with laser light shows; doof doof music and pornographic blow up ‘entry mascots’/
    I heard a little of Tim Lane calling the exciting Tigers Magpies game as we were driving home this arvo. As he said the ‘fan experience’ is a great contest. Add to that the people you go with, and the people you talk to during the game.
    Before the Port game last week we were wandering around taking in the new Stadium, and we met a 69yo lady who is part of the Eagles Eastern States cheer squad. She goes to every game not in Perth. She lives in Melbourne and drives/flies to the rest. You could tell that it keeps her young and vital.
    The ‘professionalisation’ of the ‘fan experience’ by marketing flogs is a disgrace and wastes money doing what is unnecessary. I don’t care about banners. I never look at them, but I admire the passion of the fans that make them.

  6. Peter Fuller says

    I think Dave is referring to a quirky coincidence that each week until today, the team which has played against Carlton has lost their following match for an extended period. I’ve just done some quick checking, and it has been true each week this season, but also extends well back into 2014. The previous team to win after facing the “might” of Carlton was Hawthorn who defeated Collingwood in Round 14 last year. So Brisbane have broken a 15 match streak. Note Essendon lost in the opening round to the Swans, and their previous home and away match was against the Blues last year.
    I haven’t consulted John Butler, Craig Little Tony Robb or any of the other Blues desperates on the Almanac, but I think the working hypothesis is that teams die laughing after they see the Blueboys in action (to use the term loosely).

  7. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks for enlightening me Peter F. and Peter B you have summed it all up so well. Going to the footy should be a rare time for families to actually sit and talk to each other, but it has become an assault on the senses. Some of the gimmicks are fine as kids to like that sort of thing, but 99.99 per cent of fans are there for one reason – to watch their team play and hopefully well.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree Cheryl the majority of gimmicks are a waste of money and absolute stupidity and a hinderance to watching and enjoying the game so much more real connection at Sanfl level than afl

  9. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Malcolm. It was such a contrast to go to Hobart and see a game as it used to be 30 years ago. Everyone had a great time and there was a real community feel. Less razzamatazz = better grassroots footy.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I suspect that the marketing flogs’ (the ultimate tautology) approach to this sort of feedback will be that they have to make the light shows more brilliant, the fireworks more firey, the noiseworks more noisy and the inflatable run throughs more lifelike. (Hey Carlton, perhaps you can run out through a blue loo s-bend, sponsored by Harpic)

  11. Even though Brisbane might be coming good, I am finding it increasingly difficult to be keen to attend matches because of this bullshit American type hype. What advertiser seriously thinks that all of this nonsense in any way improves the “spectator experience”. All it does is to seriously annoy those present who resent being taken for complete dills. I went to one game of the NBL a few years back, well actually to be truthful about 25 years back, in Brisbane, and I made a mental note then, never again, couldn’t stand the artificial attempts to influence the crowd. And Rules is far too close to emulating this model. Enough!

  12. Cheryl Critchley says

    I don’t think you’re alone Peter. There has been a huge discussion on the AFL Fans Association Facebook page about all this and few people like the “innovations”. I thought maybe they would appeal to kids but some people are saying their kids aren’t impressed either.

  13. Peter Edwards says

    I really couldn’t care less about Brin – the cheer squad helped put it up and I was told the banner will be back next game as well.

    The Lions operate in a hostile anti AFL environment against Rugby (both codes) and soccer. Innovations help with publicity and if that builds support it is a great idea.

    As the team becomes more successful they will be appreciated more by the local media.

    Winners are grinders.

  14. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Peter, maybe the culture is different up there but most footy fans just want their team to be competitive. That win did much more to restore faith in fans that a blow-up lion could. The fans have dropped off because the team is going badly. When the Lions were winning flags they had plenty of support.

  15. Andrew Starkie says

    Cheryl, North’s new home game banner is bizarre and pointless. Why would you even waste time over the off-season coming up with this crap? We have nothing to do so let’s coming up with something.

  16. Cheryl Critchley says

    Couldn’t agree more Andrew. It’s not hard to see the motivation when you see the car logo plastered all over it – it’s just another sponsorship opportunity sadly.

  17. Jan Courtin says

    I recently received an online email, via the Swans, from the AFL asking about “My Matchday Experience” at our recent home game against the Dogs. I was appalled at the questions. Just about everything referred to the entertainment, the sponsors’ activities at half time, the Swans mascot and more along that line.
    There was a section asking why I went to the game. Pretty obvious I would have thought! The final question was “What could make your AFL matchday experience even better?” Winning a game of footy I replied!!
    To even talk about the game as a matchday experience reeks of ommercialisation . What is the world coming to?

  18. Cheryl Critchley says

    I got that survey too Jan, in my case from Richmond about the Richmond-Collingwood game. It had all these questions about how much the “match day experience” stuff influenced my decision to attend the game. I said “not at all” to all of them. Like most fans, I went to watch my team play :-)

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