When naming their team the Storm, marketers obviously had dreams of journalists writing headlines like "Rugby league takes Melbourne by storm'. In truth, rugby league has only caused Melbourne some slight drizzle and perhaps some fog, despite having an amazing run of onfield success. Some of this success came about because administrators felt that caps were something to be worn by fans, not something to consider when working out how much they were allowed to pay players. When their cheating was exposed, Melbourne did in fact kick up a storm, and were hit hard by thunder and lightening.
Melbourne was established in 1998 as part of the reconciliation process between News Ltd and the ARL after the Superleague War. The peace deal required that the News Ltd owned Hunter Mariners and Western Reds had to be cut. The players contracted to the clubs were signed over to the News Ltd's new team in Melbourne.
For a name, marketers initially suggested Mavericks, with an image of an American gunslinger holding a fist full of dollars. It was quite an odd choice considering that Superleague had pissed off many football fans, who had likened it to the work of an American gun slinger wanting dollars. Perhaps the moniker choice was the classic case of marketing brown nosing where designers create an image that reminds the bosses of themselves, rather than an image that will appeal to the market they are targeting. If so, it didn't work as News Ltd's Lachlan Murdoch, speaking with an American accent, said the Melbourne Mavericks sounded "too American."
On the field, the best players that money could buy helped the club attain the kind of success that perpetual bottom feeders like Cronulla and Parramatta could only dream about. In only their second year, the Storm won the premiership. While the impact wasn't thunderous, it did motivate many Melbournians to take an interest in the sport of bum sniffers. In fact, a Roy Morgan poll taken in July 2000, found that the Storm were the 2nd most popular rugby team in Australia with an estimated 1,015,000 fans.
As well as bringing themselves respect on the field, Melbourne players also brought themselves respect off it. Unlike many clubs that had constant problems with players getting into trouble with drug use and alleged sexual assaults, Melbourne players have always been spoken about as if the sun was shining out of their places that the sun does not shine.
With players acting so admirably, it was left to the administration to spark the media into a storm. In 2009, a whistleblower informed the NRL that the Storm had been keeping two sets of books for the previous five years. Perhaps the administrators thought that the News Ltd owners would be impressed by their creative accounting and win-at-all costs mentality, as is the stereotype of the News Ltd way. They were wrong. The club was fined, stripped of its 2007 and 2009 premierships, and stripped of all points for the 2010 season. The Storm tried to appeal, but was told by owners News Ltd to desist.
With the club needing to work within the cap, it was expected that the Storm would fall to the bottom of the ladder and become a puddle. Against expectations, the Storm made the 2011 finals. They seemed threatening but the clouds never burst. It was 2012 that the flood gates opened and the Storm swept towards what was arguably their first legitimate premiership.
2004 - when compared to other NRL supporters
2006 - when compared to other NRL supporters
Brisbane - The best rivalries are those with the two clubs are similar in some way and can respect each other. Brisbane fit the bill as it is another News Ltd team, is single city team, and has a history of success.
Ask a yuppy Melbournian why Melbourne is a great city, and you are likely to get an answer that it has lots of funky cafes and bars. Perhaps this is a sign that many Melbournians are too insular to realise that other cities also have cafes and bars, or a sign that the city has no other claim to fame (such as an Opera House to have their photo taken in front of.)
Admittedly, some of Melbourne’s drinking establishments do show a culture that is quite unique to the city. For example, bars like Section 8 in the CBD may even request that gentleman remove their jacket and tie before entering. Homeless men without shoes are more appropriately dressed.
Located in an alley in the middle of Melbourne's CBD, Section 8 uses packing crates as seats. The toilets are made out of shipping containers and the bar is just enclosed with a fence. Section 8 attracts rich businessmen, Japanese tourists, struggling artists and even homeless people. It is deliberately designed to be unpretentious.
At the other social extreme to Section 8 is Melbourne’s Crown Casino, which prides itself on its opulence and pretention. Would be James Bonds wanting to show their wares, or wealthy patrons on the hunt for an extravagant meal, find that the casino complex satisfies almost their every desire.
Away from the yuppy scene, Melbournians like to claim they are Australia’s sporting capital; a claim that basically relies on the largest per capita attendance at football games in the world. For this reason, visiting Melbourne and not attending the football would be like visiting ancient Rome and not participating in an orgy. Well, that is not strictly true. Just as there were probably many residents of ancient Rome with moral objections to orgies, there are plenty of Melbournians with a moral objection to football. Nevertheless, football is a pastime that has penetrated most of Melbourne’s subcultures and acts as a social glue to bind them all.
In March, the Moomba festival attracts lots of tourists. The name Moomba seems to have been the result of colonists not realising that Aborigines could have a sense of humour. When organisers were looking for a name for their festival, they asked Aborigines for a suitable word, and were subsequently told that 'moomba' means, 'lets get together and have fun.' In hindsight, they should have been suspicious that 'lets get together and have fun' could have been expressed in two syllables. In reality, 'moom' means 'bum', and 'ba' means 'in', 'at' or 'on'. It seems then, the local tribes got together and had fun as they laughed the whitefella's 'in the bum' festival.
Melbourne was not always the bohemian and creative place it is today. It was founded in 1835 by a John Batman, the son of a Convict, who probably had the surname of Bateman by didn’t know how to spell it properly. Even though it was probably spelt wrong, Batman was so proud of his name that he called his new city Batville. As the population grew, it seems that some people decided that Batville sounded silly. Instead, they named the city in honour of a Lord Melbourne who lived in Britain.
After gold was discovered in regional Victoria in 1850s, Melbourne became home to an establishment set that craved respectability and tried to achieve it through architecture. Massive and ornate bluestone constructions displayed all the refinement of the Victorian and Gothic styles.
The wealth of the Victorian goldfields also found its way to the race track and in 1861 the Victoria Turf Club staged the first Melbourne Cup. By 1866, the Victorian Government had proclaimed the race day to be a public holiday.
At the time of Federation, Melbourne was home to Australia's establishment set, the offices of the big Australian companies and was the national capital until 1923. The prosperity of Melbourne resulted in it attracting the bulk of Australia’s migrants immediately after World War 2.
By the 1980s, Melbourne's character had noticeable changed and instead of being the shining diamond of Australia, it was the rust bucket. The big companies had relocated to Sydney, and the city was shrinking as residents moved north to retire or find a job. Melbourne was starting to resemble the homeless man that wears a suit, but holds out his hand to beg for change.