Switching football loyalties: Transitioning from the Fitzroy Lions to the North Melbourne Kangaroos, 1997

Switching football loyalties: Transitioning from the Fitzroy Lions to the North Melbourne Kangaroos 1997


Changing one’s football team allegiance can be a challenging and fraught experience. But given the death of Fitzroy at the end of 1996 I had no choice. Some ex-Fitzroy supporters transitioned to Brisbane,[i] but I never saw this as an option for three reasons:


Firstly, I had no desire to support an interstate team which played only a small number of games live in Melbourne.


Secondly, the so-called alignment of Brisbane with Fitzroy was not a genuine merger, rather a corporate takeover imposed by the AFL. There was almost certainly only a tiny percentage of Fitzroy members who would have supported this takeover if permitted a democratic vote. The former Fitzroy champion player and coach Bill Stephen aptly summed up this deficit: ‘If it’s a true merge between the Brisbane Football Club and the Fitzroy Football Club, then we must have the Fitzroy name included…They have got to offer us the name because if they don’t, then it will only be the Brisbane Football Club and that’s not a true merge. It’s got to be the Brisbane/Fitzroy Football Club’. [ii]


Thirdly, this was a very different scenario to the process by which South Melbourne metamorphosed into the Sydney Swans. That process involved a struggling Melbourne-based team relocating the entire club – colours, emblem and history – to a new state. Consequently, many South supporters eventually came to terms with the move. In contrast, the new Brisbane Lions involved an existing Brisbane-based side, the Bears, swallowing up a long-standing VFL club. For me, Brisbane remained and would always remain the same Brisbane Bears team that had entered the competition in 1987.


Others transitioned to North Melbourne. It has been estimated that at least a few hundred and possibly as many as a thousand ex-Roys became Kangaroos.[iii] I felt comfortable with this option for a number of reasons. Firstly, North Melbourne and Fitzroy had publicly negotiated a merger for much of the 1996 season. This was a merger which arguably enjoyed the support of most Fitzroy members and supporters. When the merger was sabotaged by the AFL in favour of the problematic Brisbane deal, I chose to support North throughout the 1996 finals. An associated factor was that North were highly successful that year in securing a premiership, and boasted an exciting group of top-line players in Carey, McKernan, Schwass, King, Archer, Stevens and Bell. An associated factor was that North and Fitzroy were not dissimilar. They were both struggling clubs which relied on a small but committed group of supporters. I felt at home with the culture and values of the Kangaroos.


At the start of the 1997 season, I was excited. It had been 11 years since Fitzroy had last played finals (1986), and at least eight years since they had seriously contended for finals (1989) – mainly as a result of Richard Osborne’s exceptionally brilliant season. Most seasons since had been dominated by constant speculation about Fitzroy’s survival. In contrast, I now had the opportunity to watch a team that was a genuine premiership threat including the best player in the land in Wayne Carey.


Having said that, the first few games felt strange. I didn’t know whether to call out ‘Go Roos’, or ‘Go North’, or ‘Go Kangaroos’. I almost expected somebody in an official uniform to tap me on the shoulder, and say “You’re a Fitzroy supporter, how can you pretend to be a North supporter?” But gradually, I became more accustomed to the noise and culture of the North tribe. One factor which helped was that North had recruited three players from the remnants of Fitzroy: Martin Pike, Anthony Mellington, and Brett Chandler. That added to the other two ex-Roys already on the list: John Blakey and Matthew Armstrong. I was particularly fond of Mellington, who had kicked six goals in Fitzroy’s sole victory of 1996, and had a decent first season in North colours, playing 14 games.



Round one: 27 March 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  2.1, 3.4, 4.7, 7.13 (55)

Melbourne                   2.2, 4.5, 8.9, 10.10 (70)


Best players: Martyn, Anderson, Blakey, Longmire, Allison, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 2.


I listened to this game at home on the radio, anticipating a big victory over Melbourne who had finished a lowly 14th in 1996. But it turned out to be a nightmare start to the season. North captain Wayne Carey dislocated his shoulder, and would not return until Round 13. Additionally, Corey McKernan strained his knee ligaments in the opening quarter. I was starting to wonder whether I had transferred the curse of Fitzroy over to North.



Round two: 7 April 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  2.2, 7.8, 11.12, 12.14 (86)

Carlton                         1.6, 2.9, 4.11, 8.12 (60)


Best players: Stevens, Archer, Bell, Rock, Scott, Pike, King.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 3, Archer 2.


Carlton had also lost their first match so this was a crucial game for the winners of the previous two premierships. I booked tickets to attend with two Carlton-supporting friends, and then picked up a heavy cold on the day, so ended up listening again on the radio. Fortunately we won easily, and the season seemed back on track. Glenn Archer dominated the second quarter with 11 disposals, three marks and a goal.



Round three: 13 April 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  2.3, 5.5, 6.8, 12.8 (80)

Essendon                     3.6, 9.8, 11.13, 18.14 (122)


Best players: McKernan, King, Bell, Rock, Stevens.

Multiple Goalkickers: Roberts 3, Stevens 2, Bell 2, McKernan 2.



Round four: 20 April 1997 (Gabba)


North Melbourne  1.3, 3.5, 10.7, 12.11 (83)

Brisbane                       2.6, 8.11, 10.14, 15.19 (109)


Best players: Blakey, King, Rock, Stevens, Laidley, Pike.

Multiple Goalkickers: Blakey 3.


North fell to 14th on the ladder.



Round five: 27 April 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  5.6, 11.8, 17.10, 21.15 (141)

Richmond                    2.0, 4.0, 4.3, 7.4 (46)


Best players: Archer, Pike, McKernan, Blakey, Stevens, Mellington, Longmire, Rock.

Multiple Goalkickers: Mellington 5, Longmire 4, Sholl 3, Rock 2.


North dominated this match scoring 11 goals in a row from halfway through the second quarter. Glenn Archer did a demolition job on champion Richmond full forward Matthew Richardson.[iv]



Round six: 3 May 1997 (Waverley Park)


North Melbourne  2.3, 7.3, 12.3, 16.7 (103)

Hawthorn                    2.4, 6.5, 12.8, 14.9 (93)


Best players: Rock, Blakey, McKernan, Scott, Schwass, Martyn, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Schwass 4, McKernan 3, Mellington 3, Allison 2.


This was a classic match between the two old rivals from the 1970’s. North led by 23 points halfway through the second quarter, but Hawthorn came back and seized the lead in time-on of the last quarter. But two late goals from Anthony Mellington (who booted three in the final quarter including two from contested marks and the third from a free kick following a strong tackle on Jencke) and Brett Allison (finishing off strong play by David King) secured the victory. [v] Back into the top eight.


Other game highlights included a strong mark and goal by John Longmire in the first quarter; classy goals on the run by Wayne Schwass and young Brent “Boomer” Harvey; a strong mark and goal by Schwass in the second quarter; snaps by Allison and McKernan in the third quarter; and a great pass by Anthony Stevens to Mark Stevens resulting in a goal.


Round seven: 9 May 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  2.5, 3.7, 7.10, 9.14 (68)

Collingwood                 2.3, 5.5, 12.7, 17.9 (111)


Best players: Rock, Mellington, Stevens, McKerman, Bell, Martyn.

Multiple Goalkickers: Mellington 4, Sholl 2.



Round eight: 17 May 1997 (Optus Oval)


North Melbourne 7.0, 10.5, 15.11, 19.14 (128)

Port Adelaide             3.1, 4.5, 9.7, 15.10 (100)


Best players: Stevens, Pike, Rock, King, Sholl, Longmire, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Sholl 6, Kirzner 4, McKernan 2.


High flying full forward Julian Kirzner made an impressive debut with four goals from five marks.[vi] But unfortunately Kirzner played only two more games before a knee injury derailed his career.



Round nine: 25 May 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  4.1, 7.3, 7.5, 10.11 (71)

Western Bulldogs       3.1, 10.2, 14.4, 16.7 (103)


Best players: Stevens, Rock, King, McKernan, Pike.

Multiple Goalkickers: Mellington 3, McKernan 2, Bell 2.


A disappointing loss to an improving Bulldogs side who were establishing themselves as a genuine premiership contender. Back to 10th on the ladder. Vice Captain and dual Best and Fairest Wayne Schwass was dropped to the reserves after this game.



Round 10: 31 May 1997 (Optus Oval)


North Melbourne 4.5, 7.6, 8.8, 15.13 (103)

West Coast                  2.0, 6.1, 7.2, 9.4 (58)


Best players: Roberts, McKernan, Rock, Stevens, Anderson, Pike, Longmire, Scott.

Multiple Goalkickers: Scott 4, Archer 2, Anderson 2.

Corey McKernan controlled the air with 13 hit outs and seven marks plus 18 disposals. Small forward Robert Scott put the icing on the cake with three quick goals in the final quarter.[vii] North rose to 7th on the ladder.



Round 11: 9 June 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne 2.5, 6.7, 10.12, 15.15 (105)

Fremantle                    3.3, 6.5, 10.5, 12.7 (79)


Best players: McKernan, Martyn, Rock, Stevens, Scott, Archer, King, Longmire.

Multiple Goalkickers: Sholl 4, Harvey 3, Archer 2, McKernan 2, King 2.


Young ‘Boomer’ Harvey drilled three goals in five minutes in the last quarter to seal the win.



Round 12: 15 June 1997 (Adelaide Oval)


North Melbourne 4.4, 7.6, 11.7, 16.9 (105)

Adelaide                      2.3, 5.7, 9.10, 12.11 (83)


Best players: Stevens, Rock, King, Schwass, Martyn, Allison, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 3, Sholl 3, Roberts 2, Stevens 2, Rock 2, Harvey 2.


A big away win over a leading flag contender. Back up to 5th on the ladder, and only percentage off second spot.



Round 13: 29 June 1997 (SCG)


North Melbourne 2.7, 2.8, 6.9,  7.13 (55)

Sydney                         1.4, 4.11, 4.16, 8.17 (65)


Best players: Stevens, Bell, King, Martyn, Sholl, Rock.

Multiple Goalkickers: Nil.


Wayne Carey made his long awaited comeback from injury.



Round 14: 5 July 1997 (Waverley Park)


North Melbourne 0.2, 3.2, 8.7, 11.13 (79)

St Kilda                     5.3, 10.7, 14.11, 20.13 (133)


Best players: King, Rock, Schwass, Martyn, Blakey.

Multiple Goalkickers: Carey 2, King 2.


I ventured out to Iceberg Park to see Carey live for the first time as a North Melbourne supporter. But the great man was quiet, and the impressive Saints belted us from start to finish. We dropped way down to 10th on the ladder.

There were still some highlights including a delightful left foot snap by Carey in the second quarter; a long goal on the run by King; and a big mark resulting in a 55 metre goal by McKernan in the third quarter; another long goal on the run by King; and a strong mark and goal by Archer in the final quarter.



Round 15: 11 July 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne 5.2, 9.5, 12.6, 14.8 (92)

Geelong                     2.3, 6.5, 12.8, 15.12 (102)


Best players: Allison, Schwass, King, Bell, Roberts, Blakey.

Multiple Goalkickers: Carey 3, Roberts 3, Bell 2.


A bad loss after leading comfortably early which sent North down to 11th place on the ladder.



Round 16: 20 July 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne   3.5, 8.7, 12.10, 17.12 (114)

Melbourne                    1.5, 2.9, 4.15, 7.16 (58)


Best players: King, Roberts, Bell, Rock, Scott, Stevens, Carey.

Multiple Goalkickers: Bell 3, Rock 2, Scott 2, Carey 2, Sholl 2, Allison 2.


An easy win over bottom side Melbourne lifted us back into the top eight. Carey showed he was getting back to form with 19 disposals and seven marks.



Round 17: 26 July 1997 (Optus Oval)


North Melbourne 1.2, 4.4, 8.8, 14.12 (96)

Carlton                        2.4, 4.8, 7.12, 7.16 (58)


Best players: King (BOG with 27 disposals), Allison, Martyn, Scott, Stevens, Simpson, Roberts, Sholl.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 5, Bell 2, Crocker 2.


This was the classic eight point match between two struggling former heavyweights both sitting on 32 points. Most commentators agreed the loser would likely miss the finals. It was a tight affair on a cold day in front of a partisan pro-Carlton crowd of 27,689. For three quarters Carlton probably had more of the play, but wasted their opportunities. Mick Martyn did a great job blanketing Silvagni who surprisingly played at full forward. Carey spent most of the game at centre half back on Kernahan. Brett Allison drilled five goals from nowhere in the first three quarters to keep North in the game.


And then the dam burst. Three goals in 90 seconds from Darren Crocker, Peter Bell and Wayne Carey decided the result. Carey had a hand in all three goals. The Age praised David King to the hilt, describing him as ‘a player with the unusual combination of ferocity and flashy pace…ran away from the sluggish Blues many times, kicked long and capped off a best afield performance with a crowning goal in the last quarter’.[viii] I drove home a very happy ROOS supporter.



Round 18: 1 August 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  5.7, 8.10, 10.12, 11.17 (83)

Essendon                      4.2, 5.5, 7.10, 8.16 (64)


Best players: McKernan, Sholl, Martyn, Schwass, Carey, Pike, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Sholl 3, Carey 2, Bell 2, McKernan 2.



Round 19: 8 August 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne  5.6, 9.8, 13.11, 17.14 (116)

Brisbane                        2.1, 5.3, 6.4, 9.5 (59)


Best players: Pike (BOG with 23 disposals), Blakey, Longmire, Carey, Bell, Sholl, Martyn, Roberts, Schwass, Stevens.

Multiple Goalkickers: Sholl 3, Pike 2, Rock 2, Roberts 2, McKernan 2, Longmire 2.


A solid win over another finals contender, and back to 5th on the ladder. The Age praised Martin Pike, opining that ‘he carved up Steve Lawrence early, and continued to run riot from half back, finishing the game with two goals and 23 possessions’. They also commended John Longmire for playing his best game for the season with 30 disposals and 12 marks.[ix] Worryingly, Corey McKernan broke his leg in this game and looked gone for the season, but somehow recovered quickly to play Round 21.



Round 20: 17 August 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne 4.5, 7.6, 11.9, 14.12 (96)

Richmond                   4.2, 8.5, 12.9, 14.13 (97)


Best players: Schwass, Stevens, Blakey, Harvey, Sholl.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 3, Bell 3, Carey 2, Sholl 2.


A disappointing loss to 14th placed Richmond. One highlight was a long goal from outside 50 by Anthony Stevens to level the scores with under three minutes remaining.



Round 21: 23 August 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne   1.7, 5.10, 7.17, 10.21 (81)

Hawthorn                      2.2, 4.4, 5.6, 6.7 (43)


Best players: Simpson, Steven, Carey, Allison, Pike, Schwass.

Multiple Goalkickers: Allison 4.



Round 22: 31 August 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne   6.2, 9.8, 13.14, 15.21 (111)

Collingwood                 6.2, 11.4, 14.7, 18.14 (122)


Best players: Stevens, Carey, Bell, Longmire, Roberts, McKernan, Blakey.


Multiple Goalkickers: Archer 3, Allison 2, Blakey 2, Chandler 2, Roberts 2, Scott 2.


This unexpected loss meant North finished 7th on the ladder, and would have to play 2nd placed Geelong in the first week of the finals with no second chance if they lost.



Finals Footy


Qualifying Final: 7 September 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne 3.4, 6.9, 8.10, 11.13 (79)

Geelong                        2.4, 5.6, 6.7, 9.7 (61)


Best players: Carey, Archer, Longmire, Pike, Stevens, King, Bell, Martyn.

Multiple Goalkickers: Carey 7, Allison 3.


Carey returned to his champion best on a cold wet night at the MCG, drilling seven match-winning goals whilst gathering 21 disposals and 10 marks in a best on ground display. According to The Age, ‘he almost single-handedly launched North Melbourne as a premiership threat…He crumbed them. He bombed them from outside the 50 metre arc. He grubbed one through as he was slung to the ground. He had a hand in several others’. [x] The Football Record named him the Player of the Week. [xi]


Game highlights included a clever scoop by Carey to Allison for a goal on the run in the first quarter, a Carey goal from 50 metres in the second quarter, a Carey left-foot snap in the third quarter, a Carey mark and goal, a Carey goal from 55 metres, and finally a mark and goal by Allison to ice the game in the final quarter.


Unfortunately leading players Wayne Schwass and Glenn Archer were both suspended for two games for incidents in this game which meant they missed the following two finals.



Semi Final: 13 September 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne   2.2, 5.4, 10.6, 15.8 (98)

West Coast                    5.1, 8.6, 11.8, 12.13 (85)


Best players: McKernan, Stevens, Bell, Pike, Sholl, Roberts, King.

Multiple Goalkickers: McKernan 4, Sholl 3, Allison 2, Carey 2.


North seemed down and out when trailing by 32 points early in the third quarter, but made an amazing comeback. McKernan dominated with 15 disposals, seven marks, 17 hit outs and four goals.[xii]


Highlights included a lovely goal by Bell on the run in the first quarter; a long goal by McKernan; a pass by Harvey to Sholl to goal in the second quarter; a dominant third quarter by Sholl, who passed to Allison for a goal, marked and got the ball forward for a McKernan snap, marked and drilled a long 50 metre goal, and then marked and passed to McKernan for a 55 metre goal. In the last quarter, Martin Pike took four bounces, evaded Glen Jakovich, and passed to Stuart Anderson for the goal which put North in front for the first time since the first quarter. Additionally, Allison handballed to Sholl for a goal; Allison drilled a brilliant goal on the run; Bell centred for Freeborn to goal; and then Carey ran into an open goal to seal the game.




Preliminary Final: 19 September 1997 (MCG)


North Melbourne    4.0,  8.2,  8.4, 11.7 (73)

St Kilda                           6.3, 9.6, 13.12, 15.14 (104)


Best players: Stevens, Rock, King, Allison, Bell, Sholl, Carey.

Multiple Goalkickers: Crocker 4, Allison 3, Carey 2.


Champion big man Corey McKernan dislocated his right shoulder in the first quarter, and after that North never looked likely, although Carey threatened briefly to repeat his match winning performance from two weeks earlier.[xiii]



Best and Fairest 1997

Anthony Stevens 494

David King 397 (and 12 Brownlow votes)

Peter Bell 387

Michael Martyn 341

Craig Sholl 308

Mark Roberts 297

John Blakey 294

Martin Pike 261

John Longmire 259

Glen Archer 252

Robert Scott 252


Leading Goalkickers 1997

Brett Allison 43

Craig Sholl 40

Wayne Carey 25

Peter Bell 24

Corey McKernan 22

Anthony Mellington 17

Mark Roberts 17

Glen Archer 15

Anthony Rock 14

Robert Scott 14





Coach Denis Pagan was very disappointed with the 4th place finish, arguing that “those powerful, irresistible forces (i.e. hunger, passion, spirit, drive, desire, excitement and enthusiasm) so evident during the whole of 1996 were far too inconsistent and erratic this season”. He particularly canned the losses to lower sides such as Melbourne, Richmond and Collingwood as costing North the opportunity for a double chance. But he also acknowledged that “to get to the Preliminary Final with the path we had to take was quite amazing to say the least”.[xiv]


Pagan could reasonably have added that there were major injury challenges throughout the year: Most notably Carey missed 11 games, McKernan copped a number of injuries, veterans Crocker and Laidley hardly played, and second ruckman Capuano missed the entire system.[xv] Nevertheless, season highlights included outstanding midfielder Anthony Stevens being selected in the AFL Football Record team of the year[xvi], and dashing half back David King making the All-Australian Team. Another highlight was young Boomer Harvey making his mark in his second season, playing 17 games for 10 goals.[xvii] Additionally, future premiership players Byron Pickett and Scott Welsh both made their debuts.


I was left with plenty to look forward to for the 1998 season. Most significantly I no longer had any concerns as to whether my team would be remaining in the competition.





[i] Adam Muyt (2006) Maroon & Blue: Recollections and tales of the Fitzroy Football Club. Vulgar Press. Melbourne, pp.255-271.

[ii] Stephen cited in Stephen Rielly (1996) ‘Fitzroy’s legends differ on merger’, The Age, 25 July.

[iii] Muyt, pp.240-245. See also North Melbourne Football Club 1997 Yearbook, pp.5 and 27; and Stephen Howells (1997) ‘Battling Roos miss the Lions share’, Sunday Age, 11 May.

[iv] Len Johnson (1997) ‘Roos rekindle the fire’, The Age, 28 April.

[v] Michael Davis (1997) ‘Recruits from Fitzroy step up for North’, The Australian, 5 May.

[vi] Richard Hinds (1997) ‘New boy quickly makes his mark’, Sunday Age, 18 May.

[vii] Rohan Connolly (1997) ‘A case of the…’, Sunday Age, 1 June.

[viii] Jake Niall (1997) ‘North strikes back’, Sunday Age, 27 July.

[ix] Dwayne Russell (1997) ‘Roos whip Lions into submission’, Sunday Age, 10 August.

[x] Martin Blake (1997) ‘Hail the king’s second coming’, The Age, 8 September.

[xi] Greg Hobbs (1997) ‘King Carey is back on the throne’, Football Record, 13 September, p.51.

[xii] Anon (1997) ‘McKernan: Footballer, champion and only 23’, Football Record, 19-20 September, p.21.

[xiii] Stephen Howell (1997) ‘Unlucky breaks’, Sunday Age, 21 September.

[xiv] Denis Pagan (1997) ‘Coach’s Report’ in North Melbourne Football Club 1997 Yearbook, p.7.

[xv] Howell, op cit.

[xvi] Greg Hobbs (1997) ‘Best of the best’, Football Record, 13 September, p.6.

[xvii] ‘Rookie on the rise’, North News, August 1997, p.19.




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About Philip Mendes

Philip Mendes is an academic who follows AFL, soccer, tennis and cricket. He supported Fitzroy Football Club from 1970-1996, and on their death he adopted the North Melbourne Kangaroos as his new team. In his spare time, he occasionally writes about his current and past football teams.


  1. Philip
    Interesting to read the perspective of someone who has changed team allegiance for honourable reasons. Usually it’s considered taboo unless exceptional circumstances arise. The death of your club probably ticks that box!
    I concur with your view about the so-called “merger” between Brisbane and Fitzroy. Your arguments for switching to North are logical and I doubt I’d have followed the Brisbane Lions had I been in your position.
    However, I’m curious that you contend that the “relocation” of South Melbourne was different and somehow more acceptable to their fans. It was, like the Brisbane-Fitzroy arrangement, a decision forced by the League against the wishes of the members, with the same result – a new entity that merely pays lip-service to the identity and history of the former club. My strong recollections of the time, recently reviewed in my “1981 Revisited” series, are of intense bitterness among South supporters, a substantial proportion of whom disowned the Swans thereafter. Granted, plenty returned over time as some Fitzroy people did to Brisbane in 2001-03 (funny how success can override principle). But for these fans to claim any meaningful links between Sydney and South Melbourne or between Brisbane and Fitzroy is IMO drawing a very long bow indeed.
    I hope for your sake that North’s current difficulties aren’t a precursor to a Fitzroy-style demise.

  2. Philip Mendes says

    HI Stainless – thanks for your thoughtful reading. When I first wrote about Fitzroy’s demise in late 96, I did draw a more explicit analogy with the South Melbourne experience, and agree there was equal levels of bitterness. But my perception is that over time relatively more ex-South people were won over. Although as you say, maybe that was a reaction more than anything to the Premierships of 2005 and 2012. It would be very interesting for one of our our specialist sports academics (i.e. somebody like Sean Gorman or Barry Judd) to complete a comparative research project on the two, and trace a representative group of ex-South and ex-Fitzroy supporters (and their children) over time to see where they ended up. As to where North sit in the future, who knows? But I think they are doing at least as well financially as a number of other Melbourne-based clubs: St Kilda, Bulldogs, Melbourne etc. Carlton are probably far worse off at the moment, but have the advantage of a larger support base that will come out of the woodworks once they are successful again (similar to your Richmond tribe).

  3. Philip – After a disastrous first decade, Sydney became a well-managed club that has done a good job in growing their Melbourne supporter base. My sense is that they’re trading on their recent success and squeaky-clean reputation far more than any tenuous connections to the days of Pratt and Skilton, which would mean little to younger fans. They seem to have done this better than Brisbane but your suggestion of a longitudinal study would be interesting.
    I don’t mean to be a prophet of doom about North but the impacts of the pandemic seem to be pretty devastating across the competition and North strikes me as one of the more vulnerable clubs, should the League suddenly regain its appetite for rationalisation.
    Your point about the Richmond tribe is well noted. It’s scarcely believable now but I well remember the 1990 “Save our Skins” campaign and contemplating where my footy allegiance might be directed should the Tigers fold.

  4. george smith says

    Sorry but the Lions never died. They amalgamated with Brisbane, just as they tried to amalgamate with Footscray and North. They got the money and patronage (Wayne “fairy godfather” Jackson) to finally win not one premiership but three, two of them at Collingwood’s expense. I have little sympathy. I hate Fitzroy.

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