A New Club for Melbourne?

Bradley Hatter chose the first day of AFL season to launch his new initiative: a truly inclusive football club: the “Melbourne All Football League”.

“I want it to be a welcoming place for all footballers – not just for AFL players. The true sporting spirit doesn’t exclude anyone, but is inclusive. We want to include all codes of football in Australia, including soccer, in our club. In fact, we plan to go even further than that: this will be a club for any sport whatsoever.”

Mr Hatter recently resigned as coach of the Dinglybell Football club in Melbourne’s outer east. He said that he was fed up with the restrictive, exclusive rules that were imposed on the club by the Victorian AFL Association.

“That’s not the sporting spirit. The sporting spirit says everyone is welcome, with no limitations or expectations. We won’t turn anyone away. We won’t put demands or set limitations on who could or could not be part of this club.”

One of the members of his new club, Jenny Simonsez, demonstrates just how seriously Mr Hatter takes that position. Ms Simonsez said that she doesn’t even like football.

“I’ve always felt excluded as a football hater in Melbourne,” she said. “Now at last, I have found a football club that I can join and not be expected to like football or even follow it. Brad is a true visionary. This is the way of the future.”

Mr Hatter says that his new football club also welcomes basketballers, cyclists, and table tennis players.

“I don’t ask questions about what sport you follow. We don’t use brand names in the new Melbourne AFL”.

Nor do they have club colours. According to Mr Hatter and his club members, team colours are just another way of creating difference and excluding “the other”.

“We don’t have a uniform, or colours, or team outfit. Everyone is an individual here. If anyone wants to adopt colours for our inclusive Football club, then I guess the most appropriate would be a rainbow!” he joked.

The new club is having some difficulty getting recognition as an Incorporated Body by Consumer Affairs Victoria, as they steadfastly refuse to appoint officers such as President, Secretary or Treasurer.

“We don’t want anything to do with hierarchy in our club. If you turn up, and its your first time, you have as much say in how this club is run as those who come every Saturday.”

The Melbourne All Football Club doesn’t play against other teams – part of their policy is not to be involved in competitive games. So what do they do on Saturday mornings?

“We do everything,” says Johnny Star, an enthusiastic member of the new inclusive club. “We get a whole lot of balls, footballs, soccerballs, cricket balls, volleyballs, and even a few racquets and bats, and throw them into the ring and everyone can do what they like. No one keeps score either. It’s really liberating. An opportunity to express your individuality without the constrictions of having to be a team player.”

At this stage, there has been no response from the Victorian AFL Association. Off the record, however, one highly placed AFL official has said: “It’s stupid. It’s self-centred. It won’t last because they are just a bunch of individuals doing their own thing.”

Mr Hatter says that’s the point.

For more information about the new club, click here.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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5 Responses to A New Club for Melbourne?

  1. Tony says:

    Meanwhile the boss of one of the oldest clubs, the Sentire Tigers, was more than forthcoming in his response.

    ‘We are a traditional club’, he said, ‘and proud of it’.

    ‘We have no ‘Auskick’ program because it allows girls to play a form of our game. We believe that goes against the essential nature of football’.

    ‘Our players also wear the uniform that was developed in the first few years of the game. It is the uniform of real men.’

    ‘We also don’t employ physios, trainers, sports psychologists, recruitment managers or marketing people. Our players play the game and fix themselves if they get injured.’

    ‘We also play by the rules that were ratified in 1895. There’s no need to move beyond that original set. We call other leagues ‘Modernists’.’

    ‘We also have very exclusive joining requirements; our club is not open to just anybody’.

    ‘Others have noted that our membership and our league (the ‘Real Football League’ of Victoria) have suffered an alarming decline of membership in the last few decades. This causes us no concern. Once people realise we are the pure embodiment of football they’ll come rushing back. In the meantime we are custodians of the true game.’

    ‘And we don’t have a #@$* website!’

    (I did manage to track down a pic of their 2011 team here.)

    • Schütz says:

      Ho, ho! That’s the spirit, Tony! Thanks for playing! But at least the team you have tracked down IS a football team…

      • Tony says:

        No denying that, David! If fact they are such a pure football team that I don’t think they’d even let you in. Beret wearers definitely not frowned on! They’d also be very concerned that you used to play for another code.


        @ Alexander

        There is talk of a rapprochement between the old league and the old old league, but disquiet among the ranks — plus a few foot-in-mouth public statements from senior members — may see that game abandoned.

    • Alexander says:

      Original set of rules from 1895? Bah. The Hills Eagles have reverted to the actual original set of rules from 1859. They claim that the introduction of umpires, time limits and other changes in the 1860s destroyed the spirit of the game, making it more like public school football.

  2. matthias says:

    Seems like a great club -Rafferty’s Rules and not Aussie Rules apply. Or is it Murphy’s law ,but then as O’Reilly said “Murphy was an optimist”

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