JOINT vice-president Peter Spargo has once again opened up his home to the Melbourne Football Club, when he hosted his now annual new players and families dinner on Sunday night.
As has been the case in recent years, it was a fantastic evening for all who attended, which included the 14 new Demons (including Jesse Hogan, who will officially be listed in 2014) and their families, plus the directors, coaches and key football/administration staff.
President Don McLardy said it was a great night, and another step towards Melbourne being at the forefront of welcoming families into an AFL club.
“We want to be the club that respects families and the people involved in it,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“We think it’s really important that people feel close to our footy club, just like they do in a suburban or country footy club.
“So when we’re successful, they’ll feel a part of it.”
McLardy, chief executive Cameron Schwab, coach Mark Neeld, football manager Josh Mahoney and Todd Viney, who oversaw last year’s recruiting period, all spoke at the evening.
Schwab informed the families about the heritage and the history of the club, and Neeld pressed the importance of the players to make the most of their opportunities at Melbourne.
Viney introduced and spoke about each new player, who then presented their respective guernsey –presented in a box – to their parents.
McLardy said it was important for the club to explain the importance of the club’s jumper to the new families.
“The explanation of what our jumper means and the history with the emblem is important,” he said.
“But equally important, it’s about creating our own history now.
“For the players to be able to present their jumpers to their Mum and Dad – I reckon that’s a fantastic touch.”
McLardy also praised the work of several families within Melbourne, highlighting the Viney family for not only looking after son Jack, but hosting new recruits Jimmy Toumpas and Jesse Hogan in their home.
He also said Spargo was a “great benefactor of the club” and nothing was too much trouble for him.
“Peter’s hosted this night for four years and it’s been a fantastic event each time,” he said.
“We’ve probably had 500 people come through these nights now.
“Peter’s been fantastic at bringing the new families into his home.”
McLardy said it was a clear part of the board, which came into office in 2008, that it wanted to create an inclusive club.
“It’s very important that we build a club that’s absolutely united internally and with our entire supporter base,” he said.
“It’s absolutely critical that we continue to build on this.
“One thing about this board’s mantra, since it came in, is that it wants to remain approachable, open and involves everybody who loves the club.”