Nth Melbourne Kangaroos
For most of the 90s, the Kangaroos were a mortally wounded animal that had been hit with a semi-trailer. Despite attaining huge success on the field, they just didn't have enough fans to survive and looked quite pathetic as they jumped to Sydney then to Canberra then to the Gold Coast to survive only to find themselves rejected again and again. Finally, the AFL said that enough was enough and that they should move to the Gold Coast full time.
In a long-overdue show of character, the Kangaroos refused and instead dragged themselves forward on their arms in the hope they could regain their feet once more while still being in the cros shairs of some powerful hunters with plans to send off their cuts.
It was sad that the Kangaroos had come to this. They should have been one of the most powerful clubs in Australia. They had the best logo, stirring stories, pioneered a host of successful marketing innovations and had been one of the best performing teams over the last 30 years.
In addition to its modern success, the Kangaroos also had a successful history. They joined the VFA in 1869; however due to their lack of financial power they were not asked to join the VFL in 1896. To the club’s credit, it responded to the VFL’s rejection in an admirable manner. In the VFA, it became a powerhouse - winning premierships in 1903, 1904, 1910, 1914, 1915 and 1918. This sustained success led to an invitation to join the VFL in 1925.
Initially, the club was known as the Shinboners. The name was believed to have come from local butchers who displayed shinbones decorated in Nth Melbourne colours. True to their name, their early years in the VFL were characterised by consistent loses on the scoreboard, but consistent victories on the casualty count. The Shinboners developed a reputation as a team that would always give an honest contest and opponents would never win an easy ball. It seemed to be an emotive style of play as by 1937 the club had secured a staunch membership of 2400 — then a VFL record.
Throughout the 70s, the Kangaroos had even more success. Like many clubs; however, they got themselves into financial difficulty. To solve the financial problems, in 1985, the club created a scheme to raise capital. $3.13 million in funds were raised from the initial share issue. While it solved a short-term problem, long term it denied members a voice, and this sent the club on a path to ruin.
The new "shareholders" decided that since they had put money into to the club, they should make all the decisions. Considering the ridiculous statements football fans sometimes make, it was quite understandable that people putting up their own money would want to deny football fans a voice. After all, anyone who has heard St Kilda fans predict they will win a premiership one day, or seen Collingwood fans struggle not to move their lips when reading anything larger than a comic book, would surely be wary of trusting football fans with a voice in a multi-million dollar business.
While football fans are prone to say stupid things, they speak with their heart and it is the voice of the heart that needs to be shown in order attract new supporters. As the Richmond Tigers show, a club that seems passionate, and one that wears its heart on its sleeves, can still attract members even when it can't win a game. While dumping a load of chicken manure on a club's doorstep may seem like a stupid way to motivate players, it does make the club look like it has a soul.
Aside from giving a club a passionate face, collectively, football fans tend to get things right, and they tend to get it right at a time that the board is getting things wrong. A good example was seen in 1996 when the boards of the Melbourne Demons and Hawthorn Hawks agreed to merge. A grassroots revolt by Hawthorn fans scuttled the merger, forced a change in board, a change in strategic direction and a huge rise in membership. The board had been wrong. The fans had been right.
Finally, it is a belief in being a stakeholder, and having some say in the club's direction, that transforms members from being passive football watchers to active champions of the club. Membership structures encourage a kind of grassroots mobilisation that gets one fan knocking on the doors of others. Disempowering such people comes at a cost. Consequently, asking Kangaroo fans to rattle a tin for the shareholders would be like asking computer users to rattle the tin for Microsoft and Bill Gates.
By disempowering their fans, the Kagaroos' board gained a great deal of freedom. It used this freedom on marketing decisions that make even the drafting history of the Fremantle Dockers seem enlightened. Rather than increase their popularity, the Kangaroos' name changes, merger proposals, interstate games and whinging about lack of history did nothing except alienate their supporters and make them a laughing stock Australia wide.
In 2007, the AFL put an ultimatum to the Kangaroos; either they move to the Gold Coast or they are as good as dead. In a rare show of determination, the club rejected the ultimatum, reverted back to its North Melbourne name and vowed to fight on in Melbourne.
The rejection was virtually an act of suicide. That said, to accept the offer would have amounted to letting the people hit them with a semi-trailer, transfer them to a Gold Coast zoo, and sharpen the butcher's knives in preparation for an inevitable death.
By choosing to fight on in Melbourne, the Kangaroos faced an almost certain death, but at least they would die with some dignity, and die with some fight. If they had had show a little bit earlier, and the board had had some faith in their supporters, then they wouldn't have been in the situation in the first place.
Roy Morgan research
Kangaroos supporters are:
2001 when compared to other Australians
2004 when compared to other AFL supporters
2006 - When compared to other AFL supporters
Kangaroos theme song
They may not have many fans to sing it, but the Kangaroos have a great song.
Carlton Blues- Nth Melbourne was once listed on the stock market and Carlton bought shares. Later there was talk of a merger, or more specifically, Carlton increasing its shareholdings. Nth fans didn't think kindly of either option which made defeating Carlton in the 1999 Grand Final that much more special.
Sydney Swans - The Kangaroos defeated the Swans in the 96 Grand Final. In the 98 and 99 seasons, they played five "home" games in Sydney, trying to bludge off the Swans good work in raising the profile of the AFL in Sydney. The Swans didn't appreciate the Kangaroo's marketing and instigated the "boo a roo" campaign. In theory, this history should make for a good rivalry but in one SCG game at the height of the feud, the clash only drew 14,000 fans.
Collingwood Magpies - In 1999 Collingwood fans produced a banner that had a Kangaroo in crosshairs and the slogan "endangered species", in reference to 'Nth Melbourne' and 'fans' being a contradiction in terms.
Essendon Bombers - Because they drew supporters from the same area, Essendon managed to have Nth Melbourne excluded from the VFL when it broke away form the VFA in 1896. Nth Melbourne didn't enter the VFL until 1925 and they have blamed this lack of history as the reason it lacks Essendon's supporter base.
In 1998, some Nth fans decided to inform Essendon of their softness by throwing marshmallows at coach Kevin Sheedy.
Nth Melbourne's Grand Final victories in 96 and 1999 have both came against opponents that had defeated Essendon by a point in the preliminary final. For a while, Essendon saw defeating Nth as the flags they should have had.
Nth Melbourne Kangaroo jokes
1)What's the difference between Skippy and Wayne
1)Whats the difference between Nth Melbourne and a Bing Lee store.
2) The chief executive of Essendon, Richmond and Nth Melbourne were all invited to a party. The Essendon executive brought six bottles of Crown Lager. The Richmond executive brought a six pack of VB. The Nth Melbourne executive brought six friends.
3) The Nth Melbourne coach was playing the pokies and hit the jackpot with winnings of 20,000 dollars. "We've made it at last" he exclaimed to the team. "What are you going to do with the begging letters?" the team asked. "Keep sending them I suppose" he replied.
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|