From the Sunday Herald Sun
Footy clubs go to new lengths to boost memberships
Bombers legend Kevin Sheedy with his grandson, Thomas, 1, and the 2000 premiership cup. Picture: Lawrence Pinder.
AFL clubs are offering baby photos with premiership trophies and footy greats, as well as priceless on-field experiences, in a bid to reconnect with fans.
Essendon is giving supporters with newborns the chance to be photographed with legendary coach Kevin Sheedy and the 2000 premiership cup as it sets its sights on a record membership tally.
The club, which is on track to pass 50,000 members before Christmas, expects an open training and “Bub at the Club” session on December 19 to be a hit with Bombers faithful.
Sheedy said it was a way for Essendon fans to prove they were “a Bomber from birth”.
“We have so many mums and dads call the club the day of their child’s birth to sign them up as members, and this is a fantastic way to say thanks, make them feel connected and provide a special memory which will last forever,” he said.
“The last thing we want is what happened to poor old Eddie McGuire.
“He grew up in a house full of Essendon supporters, but got lured across to the ‘dark side’.”
But Essendon’s arch rival is also taking steps to embrace its black and white army with laps of honour at the MCG, behind-the-scenes tours and group ticket discounts.
Collingwood fans who purchase more than 25 tickets to a game will next year be able to form a “Magpie fan tunnel” as players run on to the ground or pose for a photo on the MCG before opening bounce.
Pies fans who purchase 30 tickets will be able to walk the perimeter of the hallowed turf before watching their heroes take to the field.
Interim Collingwood chief executive Peter Murphy said the club started its “group experiences program” to bring groups of supporters closer to their heroes at no extra cost.
He predicted the unique match-day experiences would be popular with friends, families, colleagues and inmates sharing a special occasion.
Pet memberships, live streaming offers and junior deals are being peddled by clubs trying to break new ground in membership numbers.
Fark Carlton offers a $35 pet membership that gives a pampered pooch a membership card, pet bag dispenser (lots of left over brown paper bags since Judd retired) and certificate.
Hawthorn’s “Baby Hawk” membership includes a junior scarf, teddy rattle, baby bunting, personalised birthday card, a colour in Hawthorn nappy and a free ticket to an MCG match for $51.
And North Melbourne’s “Harvey’s Heroes” package includes an exclusive clinic with AFL games record-holder Brent Harvey and the 2018 playing group, access to all home games and a merchandise pack to the first person to sign up as a member (offer ends February 28 2018).