Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.

2021 Annual Report



Report of the 2021 Financial Year Activities

November 2020 to October 2021

By Fitzroy President, Joan Eddy

We experienced another tough year under the ever-present COVID-19 cloud hovering over the world and severely impacting community sport. We were in and out of lockdown and our players, coaches, team managers, trainers and COVID officers had to grapple again with the constantly changing raft of compliance and restrictions from pre-season right through to the season’s premature end. This meant that some of our teams could complete their home-and-away schedule, some unfortunately not.

Congratulations to our Senior Women, one of the teams that played a final’s match, a fantastic achievement! Three more of our teams also made finals but sadly didn’t get the opportunity to play. Our men’s Reserves finished fourth in a crazy uncompleted fixture, as did our Division 1 Thirds – four seasons in a row if you don’t mind. And congratulations to our Gold Thirds who absolutely smashed opposition teams throughout the season and won the premiership without playing finals.

Our supporters and volunteers also had to manage these restrictions and, as usual, did an outstanding job. Extensive work went into planning events so we could all come together, but we had to cancel most or move them to virtual environments. Despite all that, our people still came out in numbers when they were allowed to support our teams, with regular communications to everyone through our fabulous weekly RedRoy Mail featuring great stories, match day reviews and visuals, helping keep us all connected and giving us all a lift.

We also progressed a number of fantastic on-and-off-field initiatives which are detailed further in this report.

All we’ve done this year exemplifies the resilience and strength of the Roys spirit at all levels of the club and puts us in good stead for next season as we navigate the new COVID normal world and continue to keep our community thriving. Bring it on!


The club is pleased to announce an operating profit of $7.6k for the financial year ended 31 October 2021 despite the reduced playing season and impact on revenue opportunities. A big thank you for the ongoing financial support from our partner Australian Catholic University and our sponsors, members and donors. Treasurer Michael Smale will detail the key points of the result at the Annual General Meeting.


After a year of no footy, it was a welcome sight to see all of our seven sides return to the field in 2021. While we can be disappointed with how the pandemic again wreaked havoc and halted community sport, resulting in unfinished seasons, we certainly still have plenty to celebrate across the club. Despite all that held us back in 2021, the resilience, community spirit and kindness of all involved saw us achieve some wonderful results on-and-off the field. A special thanks goes to club Secretary and Football Operations Director Sharon Torney for carrying the load of managing the implementation of club protocols, liaising with the VAFA to ensure we had the most accurate and up-to-date information. This included many, many forms, spreadsheets, surveys, lists, and sourcing of hand sanitiser. A mountain of work to keep everyone safe and compliant with the rules.

Highlights of 2021 include:

  • The unveiling of the Bill Atherton electronic scoreboard at Brunswick Street Oval was a standout achievement. Thank you again Bill for everything you’ve done, and continue to do for the club.
  • We hosted five home games at Brunswick Street Oval for our Women’s squad and our Seniors who played a terrific season, achieving finals, and getting to fight out a close one in the loss to Beaumaris at their home ground. And to cap it off, our Women’s Senior Captain, the amazing amazon Cass Blake, came equal second in the VAFA Best and Fairest in Premier B. What an amazing achievement Cass. We’re very proud of you!
  • Our first Pride Game was another highlight of 2021 where we collaborated with the Melbourne University Women’s Football Club to fixture our Senior and Reserves Women’s teams in these historic games and host a luncheon featuring an expert panel and inspiring post-game event. We were very grateful for the support a Victorian Government Change Our Game Community Activation Grant and thank the Hon. Ros Spence and former Director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation Dr Bridie O’Donnell for the funding stream to support gender and diversity inclusion and the opportunity to celebrate this important aspect of community sport. We were also proud to be able to donate around $2000 to Queer Space as part of our celebration of the LGBTQI+ community. Queer Space is such a great organisation working with queer, trans, non-binary, intersex, gender diverse and questioning young people.
  • Four out of our seven teams made finals in 2021, with our other three teams not getting the chance to compete. In the circumstances, this was an outstanding effort and what a performance from both our Thirds sides, Div 1 making it four straight seasons (excluding 2020 of course) and finishing in the top four. Our newest team, Thirds Div 2, finished top of the ladder after only one defeat in the home-and-away season ­– by just one point! Our Men’s Ressies toughed out a crazy year to finish fourth and our Senior Men finished sixth with an incredibly memorable win over St Bedes Mentone Tigers at their first game under the Brunswick Street Oval lights with THAT goal after the siren, and our first-ever Senior Men’s win over AJAX at their home ground.
  • The appointment of our first Coaching Director for the club, Phil Bunn, is a big step forward for the continued work of our football department development strategy and pursuit for long-term success.
  • We continue a strong relationship with the Brisbane Lions Football Club and in 2021, were delighted to participate in a Brisbane Lions workshop with Fitzroy’s senior and junior clubs.
  • We launched our Respectful Relationships Program thanks to the hard work of Director Football Operations Sharon Toney, Director of Recruitment and Player Wellbeing Michael Pickering and Coaching Director Phil Bunn. This work reflects our commitment to supporting our players on and off the field and creating a great culture and great football in the Fitzroy community.
  • We welcomed some new coaches in 2020 for season 2021 – Bronte Ryan as Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women’s coach and Cam Ball, a former player who in his inaugural year coaching at Fitzroy took our Thirds Division 2 all the way. Cam is looking forward to returning to playing in season 2022, so we are on the hunt for a new Thirds Div 2 coach. After the club's detailed post-season review process, it was determined that Bronte Ryan would step down as Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women's coach. We thank Bronte for all her efforts in Season 2021, a challenging season navigating strict COVID-19 protocols, multiple lockdowns, and still taking our Senior Women to finals. We wish Bronte well in all her future endeavours.
  • We were pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Harper to the role of Senior Coach of our Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women's Team. Michael brings long-term experience and connection with our squad to the role, having worked with our Senior Women for some time and assisting with coaching and development. Harps’ established and valued connection to Fitzroy makes this appointment an exciting move for the club, and will be well supported by returning assistant Mel Story.
  • Some more new faces will be around the coaching traps in 2022 with the club appointing former North Melbourne champion Matt Larkin to the role of Senior Assistant Coach with the Senior Men’s squad. We especially thank long-term Senior Men’s assistant coach Michael Manley who is stepping into the role of Assistant Coach: Defence & Opposition Analysis in 2022. Congratulations to Mike and partner Emma on the recent arrival of Grace, a little sister for Raine.

We’re thrilled to see Luke Mahoney sign another contract extension that will see him coaching through season 2022. We also saw the following valued coaches renew their involvement with the club:

  • Bernie Carter – Reserves Coach (Senior Men)
  • Trent Coleman – Thirds Coach
  • Silvano Inserra – U19s Coach
  • Karl Jackson – Assistant Coach (Senior Men)
  • Simon Jackson — Assistant Coach (Reserves Women)
  • Nathan Jumeau – Assistant Coach (Senior Women)
  • Michael Phyphers — Head of Fitness
  • Kane King – U19s Assistant Coach
  • Nathan McLean – Reserves Women's Coach
  • Michael Manley – Assistant Coach: Defence & Opposition Analysis (Senior Men)
  • Andrew Pettigrove – Development Coach (part-time, Senior Men)
  • Mel Story – Senior Assistant Coach (Senior Women)



Membership numbers were very strong for 2021 both with long-standing members Renewing, and new members coming on board. It was particularly pleasing to see so many people taking out Gold Lion memberships.

Merchandise sales reached new heights throughout the season. Online sales remained strong and the match day stall at Brunswick Street Oval recorded near-record weekly sales until the second half of the season was cancelled.

The introduction of new red and blue Fitzroy Football Club T-shirts in collaboration with our friends at League Tees proved another great revenue stream and collaboration with like-minded businesses that work to support community sport. These items, in addition to the previous season’s ‘Fitzroy Forever’ shirts, have proven very popular and continue to sell, providing an excellent fundraising stream for the club and more options for our supporters.

Our Women’s teams ran out to our inaugural Pride game against Melbourne University in fabulous new Pride guersneys designed by Nikkita Alexander, sister of Shannon, and the Pride t-shirts offered for sale (also designed by Nikkita) proved incredibly popular with players and supporters.


It takes many contributors to keep a sporting club thriving and we would like to recognise our great partners and sponsors in season 2021. It was a trying year for all of us and we would like to acknowledge them all for their ongoing support. Long may it continue!

We ask our members to please remember all our great sponsors and partners in our community and support them when appropriate.

  • ACU
    We are very pleased that ACU re-confirmed their partnership with Fitzroy in 2021 and agreed to extend their support for our Senior Women’s Squad and Under 19s until the end of the 2023 season.
  • The Community Bank – Clifton Hill / North Fitzroy (Bendigo Bank)
    The ongoing support from the Community Bank’s grant program enabled the club to deliver several player wellbeing initiatives in 2021.
  • FitzroyIT
    As a long-term supporter of the club, we thank Fitzroy IT for the work done in updating the club website and the development of the Player Wellbeing portal. This will hold the club in good stead for many years to come.
  • Jellis Craig Inner North
    Jellis Craig is another long-term supporter of the club that deserves our thanks for their continued support in what has been a trying year.
  • Fitzroy Victoria Bowls Club
    We would like to acknowledge the long-standing partnership between our two great clubs. With restrictions on the use of the Community Room at Brunswick Street Oval in 2021, it was great that we were able to use FVBC to hold functions there, including post-match functions for the Senior Women’s team and player events.
  • Royal Derby Hotel and The Stolberg Preston
    The Royal Derby is another long-term supporter of the club that provides excellent hospitality for our community.
  • Reds Foundation
    We acknowledge the continued support of the Foundation. They are a significant connection to the rich history and ongoing legacy of our great club.
  • Dimpat
    In addition to coming on board this year as new sponsors, Dimpat also employ several of our Senior Men’s players on their construction sites, supporting players off the field.
  • Kieser Fitzroy
    Welcome to another new sponsor of FFC in 2021 and we thank Kieser for supporting our club both financially and with physiotherapy services to help get our players back onto the field as soon as possible.
  • Goodlife Health Club Fitzroy
    Welcome to another new sponsor of FFC in 2021. We are very happy to announce Goodlife as the sponsors of the D-Squad in season 2022.
  • Bontempo
    Not only do they make the best pizzas in Melbourne, our players really appreciate winning Bontempo game day award vouchers they generously contribute to the club.
  • Latrobe Golf Club (LGC)
    It has been great to have LGC onboard in season 2021 providing match day awards to both our Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s teams. We look forward to building the partnership between our two great sporting clubs.
  • North Fitzroy Cycles
    North Fitzroy Cycles came onboard in season to 2021 to provide match day awards for various FFC teams. They also very kindly provided us with 100 new water bottles that enabled the RoyGirls and RoyBoys to be ‘Covid safe’ when taking the field in season 2021.

A big thank you also to the following businesses that very kindly donated prizes for our various raffles this season: Concave, Endota Spa Fitzroy, Cinema Nova, Palace Cinema Pentridge and Rock Paper Scissors Fitzroy.


We continue to look at different ways to fundraise to support the club and we would like to highlight several fundraising ventures that were successful in contributing to our income in 2021.

  • Australian Sports Foundation (ASF)
    We continued to expand our partnership with ASF and we now have two funds set up to receive tax deductible donations to enable the FFC community to support the club in a tax-effective way.
    • ASF – FFC Operations Fund
      Thank you to all members of the FFC community who made tax deductible donations to support the operations of the club.
    • ASF – FFC Player Sponsor Fund
      Thank you to the player sponsors who used this fund to support nominated players on the field in 2021.
  • Major raffle
    With continued lockdowns in 2021, the club again chose to take part in the Toyota Good for Football online raffle. Thank you to all members of the FFC community, and their friends, who purchased tickets and made this a great fundraising success.

With all our current sponsors have already agreed to support the club in 2022 and several new sponsors have already agreed to come on board for the new season, it’s a promising time for the club. Look out for upcoming announcements in RedRoy Mail and on our social media channels during the preseason as we introduce our sponsors to you and share how these partnerships will serve the club and our community.

We’re always on the lookout for new club sponsors and partners so if you are aware of any organisation that would be interested in taking out a Sponsorship or Business Membership with FFC please let Director Sponsorship Rob Olney know at Or talk to any of the Directors about these organisations and we will have a chat with them.


Plans to bring people together for events continued to be a major challenge throughout 2021 given COVID restrictions. As was the scenario for all Victorians, many events and lunches were planned, rescheduled, and eventually cancelled, most notably our ACU Women’s Round, the Indigenous Round lunch and the players’ Reds Ball. Nevertheless, we maintained our commitment to community celebrations, and brought the Roys faithful together for football and social events whenever possible.

Highlights for season 2021 include:

First Pride Game

With the support of a Victorian Government Change our Game Community Activation grant, this year the clear event highlight was the club’s role in our first Pride Game in May. Our Senior Women took on the University of Melbourne, and the clubs collaborated to plan the game and host a lunch for VIPs and guests at the University of Melbourne’s Ernie Cropley Pavilion.

Emcee Chyloe Kurdus hosted an excellent panel featuring North Melbourne FC Women’s AFLW captain Emma Kearney, host of Chicks Talking Footy/Joy FM Fi Newton, VFLW player and LGBTIQ+ advocate Emily Fox, and comedian and sports commentator Bobby Macumber.

Young female DJ’s from Yarra Youth Services’ ‘Let’s Talk about Decks’ program played during game breaks to create a celebratory atmosphere, and the VAFA ran a live broadcast from the game. Designed by one of our former players Nikkita Alexander, the Senior Women’s team sported Fitzroy’s first Pride Jumper and the Pride T-shirt was the most popular merchandise item for the day.

In the process we raised over $2000 for Queerspace Youth, who also had a presence at the game to help educate our community about gender diverse youth and inclusion.

A women’s football networking event closed out proceedings.

Game day lunches

Following a season launch for captains, coaches and volunteers at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club in March, the club hosted three game-day lunches at Brunswick Street Oval in the Edinburgh Gardens Community Room early in the season, before lockdowns and density limits curtailed all social activities.

The season opener featured the Reds’1980 premiership reunion lunch, one year on from original plans for the 40-year celebrations. Almost the entire playing group and coach made it from around the country to celebrate.

Air Force Group Captain John Ward spoke about mental health challenges for those in the military and tied the experiences of losing people at war to our Fitzroy history, as he headlined the Anzac Day lunch (Jellis Craig Round). Bugler Ash Ballat did a beautiful job of the Last Post before the game, with the wreath-laying ceremony by Roy Ferguson at the memorial also being well attended.

Fitzroy’s new Coaching Director, Phil Bunn, spoke at the Royal Derby Round lunch, introducing his philosophy of working with the coaches and players to help take our football program to the next level.

All physical events required a booking and were run with COVID-19 safety marshals and protocols in place requiring QR check-in codes and maintenance of other public health measures to keep everyone safe. All those booking were informed of requirements ahead of the event and compliance was excellent, with volunteers in place to help people check in ahead of each lunch.

With strict density limits at the Edinburgh Gardens Community Room, the City of Yarra refunded all cancelled booking payments for the second half of the season. The club is very grateful to the Council’s events team for their commitment to helping its clients.

Thank you to caterer Spitting Image and team who showed great commitment in an attempt to support our changing needs, to our supporters who rarely asked for refunds as events were cancelled, and to our sponsors and speakers who also maintained a high level of flexibility as we attempted to reschedule events.

Virtual Redlow

At season’s end, the club hosted its first virtual Redlow. Terrific highlight material from across the season meant we could bring the club together, even if online, and acknowledge the achievements of players and coaches. The event featured several video highlight packages from the year and interviews with all senior coaches and B&F winners across the seven Fitzroy teams.

Over 166 people paid to attend the online event and a profit of just under $900 was achieved. There were limited opportunities to get together as a Fitzroy community during the season and despite extensive organisation of actual events – both player-specific and club wide – we had to repeatedly postpone. Thank you to the club’s senior captains for their efforts in creating opportunities for the players. Early in the season low key social events, with numbers capped, were held for the players at the Bowls Club and the Royal Derby.


Our volunteers showed their loyalty and willingness to contribute to the off and on-field performance of the club, turning up whenever they could in another disrupted year, and helping out at training and on game day to do all that’s required to keep our teams on the park.

Again, this season, we all had to adhere to rigorous COVID-19 restrictions, and with limited numbers of people allowed at Brunswick Street Oval and away, we couldn’t get together in person as often as we’d have liked. When we could, our volunteers followed the rules to the best of their ability. Sincere thanks to all for your ongoing support. It goes without saying that the Fitzroy Football Club could not continue without you.

After working with our sporting partners and co-tenants on Brunswick Street Oval – the Edinburgh Cricket Club and Fitzroy Junior Football Club – we got the fabulous new electronic scoreboard up and running. It took a while but was well worth the wait. The scoreboard realises our goal of having double and triple headers on Brunswick Street Oval and getting more of our teams on the ground, especially our Women’s teams. A special mention must go to club mentor and saviour Bill Atherton, after whom the scoreboard is named.

When club legend Bill Stephen passed away, his guiding hand in creating the famous Fitzroy theme song was revealed to many of our faithful supporters for the first time. In recognition of the great man’s legacy, we again enlisted the time and expertise of our volunteer videographer Paul Burston to direct some of our players in putting their own spin on our famous song. We’re sure you’ll agree that the result was engaging, funny, and inspirational all at the same time.

That brings us to the song and arguably one of our greatest achievements in 2021. We all know that

Fitzroy is the envy of the VAFA in having an historic song that our senior teams can run out to at Brunswick Street Oval, and again when coming off the ground when victorious. Our Senior Women share that joy and have been graciously waiting for a more appropriate version to do that to, one

that says “We are the girls of old Fitzroy”. After years of wanting to rectify the situation, we eventually did it this year. The results exceeded our wildest hopes for a respectful rendition that

echoed the Men’s version of the song. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our plans for a spectacular

premiere during the 2021 season did not eventuate and so we launched the song to our community at our virtual Redlow. We look forward to launching the song on game day next year and invite you all to be there when the Roy Girls run out to Brunswick Street Oval for the first time to the tune of their own version of the song.


Work on refurbishment of the Edinburgh Gardens sporting precinct, including building new clubrooms and community facilities, was punctuated with a series of setbacks during 2021. In addition to disruptions caused by COVID-19, a major concern was the City of Yarra’s projection that the project was facing significant cost overruns. To overcome these challenges, the Fitzroy Football Club is working in partnership with the City of Yarra, co-tenants in the Edinburgh Gardens Sporting Community, and with Planning Minister and local member the Hon. Richard Wynne, to source additional avenues of funding and keep the project moving.

Redevelopment of lighting at Ramsden Street Oval is now complete and was tested out during early season training. Now that we have the standard of lighting required to play twilight and night games on the ground, all we need is an electronic scoreboard! We’ve started negotiations with the City of Yarra to investigate how best to go about this and are working with colleagues from the Clifton Hill Cricket Club and Fitzroy Junior Football Club to achieve this long-awaited and much needed asset that will help alleviate the shortage of football and cricket grounds in the City of Yarra.

Early in the season, the Fitzroy Football Club – along with all traditional sporting clubs in the City of Yarra – were confronted with an unprecedented challenge. Having been advised on a Friday night prior that a decision on a new sporting allocation policy and fee structure at a Yarra City Council would be made at a Council meeting the following Tuesday, the Fitzroy Football Club swung into action. Working with sporting clubs across the City of Yarra, primarily with its partner clubs in the Edinburgh Gardens Sporting Community, we were successful in withdrawing the item from the Council agenda, an unprecedented achievement. The City of Yarra acceded to working with local sporting clubs to address their individual circumstances and how a future new policy could apply. Bear with us as we work through the complicated processes necessary to come to a satisfactory solution for us and all community sporting clubs in Yarra.

This coming season is sure to bring us continued challenges in our endeavours to improve the community facilities we have the privilege of using, and increasing access for all but, as with all things Fitzroy Footy, we will never give up!


While COVID-19 continued to keep us apart at times again in 2021, we have built strong communications processes and kept the content coming across all our club platforms to keep our community engaged, entertained, and across all news and updates as it came to hand. Director Kasey Symons kept our regular means of communication, The RedRoy Mail, going throughout the year and, sometimes with no footy to report on, collaborated with the Board to find stories to bring some joy and keep everyone connected. In such a year, communications via our social media channels and through the fabulous Red Roy Mail and the FFC website are crucial.

Some of the content highlights have been some superb pieces from Directors David Leydon, Kate Nolan and Gabrielle Murphy who continue to connect our community to our proud history through items such as the series on former Roys coaches, a tribute to captain courageous Brad Boyd, the famous fog game in August 1971, and five years on from Liz Olney’s spectacular goal. Thanks also to player Kirsty Marshall who wrote a spectacular piece on what our Pride Game meant. We love sharing the voices of our playing group.

The irrepressible scribe Guy Gorilla (aka Marshall Toohey) returned to penning match reports and profiles on our players with his usual panache. We thank him for his time in covering our games and delivering match content to our supporters, particularly for those few games we were unable to play in front of spectators.

We are also blessed with many multi-talented coaches who provide season reviews and reflections for our supporters, eloquently summarising their seasons and sharing their thoughts with our community. We’re very appreciative that our football department so openly share their experiences with us.

Our fabulous photographers were again Peter Harrison and Phyllis Quealy, with player Hannah Knocker also providing some great shots of our women in action. Videographer Paul Burston again volunteered his expertise to produce the electronic scoreboard goal video of our beloved volunteer and club stalwart Dave Barnes. Thanks also to Alison Smirnoff for producing the video content for our fabulous Virtual Redlow.

We appreciate the continued support of the VAFA Media team who amplify our club content on the VAFA website and broadcasts. Long-serving VAFA Media Manager Nick Armistead has played a strong role in this and as Nick moves to a new role at, we thank him for everything over the years and wish him well.

Given the content management system technology was no longer supported, major sponsor Fitzroy IT worked with the club to re-platform and enhance the features of the Fitzroy FC website. Fitzroy IT also helped us develop a strong presence on the site for player wellbeing content. We thank them sincerely for their generosity in undertaking the enormous amount of work and expertise this involved.


As part of the governance area of responsibility the club embarked on development of our next strategic plan under the guidance of volunteer Sophie Arnold. The first few months of the year were spent consulting with stakeholders including members, players and coaches, sponsors and other stakeholders to get an understanding of what the club does well, what could improve, and where we want to head in the future. The plan came together by the end of the year and is being presented at the Annual General Meeting. Thanks Sophie for all the hard work and expertise you so generously donated in undertaking this long and important project.

As part of this process, the position descriptions for club directors were reviewed and new and amended roles will be implemented in 2022.

In 2021 we also introduced a Code of Conduct, starting with the Board signing on, and then rolling it out to players, coaches and other officials. Our members will now be included under this policy as part of this season’s membership renewal process. The Code of Conduct contributes to our strategy of being the best community club in the VAFA, providing great culture through a safe and inclusive environment.


Congratulations to the nominees for life membership this year: Dave Barnes, Ross Bartel, Toby, Hudson Bevege, Nathan Ligris, Raph Lloyd, Bryce McAdam, Kai Menzies, Michael Pickering and Nathan White.


We’d like to express our gratitude and admiration for all our coaches – Bernie Carter, Trent Coleman, Silvano Inserra, Simon Jackson, Luke Mahoney, Michael Manley, Bronte Ryan, Mel Story, Nathan McLean, Cam Ball – and the assistants who supported them, on and off the field. Thanks to Senior Men’s Captain Julian Turner and Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women’s Captain Cass Blake and their respective leadership groups for being strong leaders and role models in our club. We’re surrounded by excellent people.


Finally, I want to pay special thanks to the Fitzroy Board. It was another challenging year in the face of the pandemic, alongside all the work that is needed to service a club and support its people. The Board continued to show great resourcefulness and dedication to keep Fitzroy in a great position and ready for the next chapter as we work to deliver on our new strategic plan.

Our future is strong, and exciting.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been involved with the club this year – coaches, players and their families, members, life members, supporters and everyone involved in our wonderful Fitzroy community. You’ve all played your part and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Joan Eddy, President

On behalf of the Directors of the Fitzroy Football Club (incorporating the Fitzroy Reds)

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