Main content

NRL fans making membership count

NRL.com Sat, Dec 21, 2013 - 7:28 AM

Rugby league fans are embracing NRL memberships for the 2014 season. Copyright: NRL Photos

Seventy-year-old Ken Gowan claims to be the first ever St George Illawarra Dragons 'Red V' member while out at Penrith, the Panthers are recruiting potential members just moments after taking their first breaths.

It's the greatest indicator yet that NRL club memberships are for everyone and are absolutely integral to the future success of your team both on and off the field.

With excitement building towards the start of the 2014 season the majority of NRL clubs are well ahead of their membership figures compared to this time last year, with the Rabbitohs leading the way with more than 19,000 members already signed up and membership across the board up by close to 14 per cent year on year.

Although Dragons fans endured a difficult time on the field in 2013, there was never any question that Mr Gowan was going to continue to pledge his loyalty to the Red V, a commitment stretching back more than half a century.

"I was the first Red V member signed up - they came out to my place and presented me with my medallion," Gowan told NRL.com. "But I've been a member of St George since I was a kid - I'm 72 now.

"We don't have too many years like the last two years; usually we're right up there. You're always a chance when you barrack for St George!"

Bulldogs member Sue Elias, from Campsie, told NRL.com that her membership is very much a family affair.

"I've been a member since the early '80s... when we were at Belmore I used to have a seat in the Stewart Stand," she said. "Now I've got between 25 and 30 in the group, most are in the family, and four of our friends that sit with us. Whenever there's a vacant seat I try and find somebody else to take that seat.

"We go to every home game but last year I also went to Adelaide, Melbourne, Townsville, Mackay, and New Zealand," she added.

Out at the foot of the mountains, the Panthers have taken a unique approach to reaching prospective members, launching the 'Born to Be a Panther' initiative. 

Every child born in Nepean Hospital from last Thursday will not only be officially recognised at the Birth Registry, but also on the Panthers database, together with a complimentary Panthers beanie, bib and bear. 

"At the Panthers, we're one big family. That's how we're going to be successful in the future," said prop Tim Grant. "It's really important for our community to feel that we welcome everyone. And I think this initiative is certainly doing that. Nothing touches home more than your first bear or something like that, you know? It's a gesture, I think it's a pretty kind one and hopefully they feel welcome to our club."

The Broncos are also eager to make membership a family affair, offering packages for the seasoned campaigners, young fans, newest additions and even the favourite four-legged member of the family.

The BFF membership (Broncos' Furry Friend) comes with all the inclusions of non-ticketed membership packages and while your feline or canine friend may find little use for the member e-mail, magnet and photo frame, they're sure to enjoy their very own Broncos food mat, pet tag and 'BFF Lives Here' sign.

But if you're looking for loyalty, it's hard to go past Brian Hall, who went to 303 consecutive Broncos games spanning more than a decade - despite living in Sydney the entire time. Due to business reasons, the run finally came to an end in Round 16 this year but Mr Hall will be at ANZ Stadium for Round 1 to see his beloved Broncs take on the Bulldogs.

"Rugby league supporters are the best people in the world," Mr Hall, who estimates to have spent between $120,000-150,000 in following his team, told NRL.com. 

"The thing that I really, really like is to see [the team] run out onto the field. They were always well prepared and apart from three games I reckon they always went out and did their best.

"If I'd had a bad week at work or whatever, to get to Suncorp [Stadium] or wherever they were playing, seeing them run out onto the field would lift me.

"The Broncos have been absolutely fantastic to me and I couldn't ask for any more than the support they showed me for the support that I gave them."

For details on how you can become a member of your club click here.