Good afternoon members and supporters,

It's wonderful to be writing to you on the eve of our first home game for season 2024. 

Last week we caught a glimpse of just how exciting our team is going to be over the next few years – and although there's still a fair bit of work to be done, there's no doubt we're heading in the right direction. 

This club has always had great people at its core, and I'm going to single a few of those out in today's letter.

First, Denis Pagan. Yesterday we announced that the southern end of Marvel Stadium will be the Pagan End for our home games this year. Denis Pagan is one of the great people of our club. Plenty of stories will be told about him today and across this year – some of them will be inspirational, many will be funny, all of them will be indisputably Denis.

I didn't really know Denis until I became club President, and one of the great privileges of this role has been getting to know him. In particular, the messages I receive from time to time, always written with affection, support, and – on occasion – a nugget of wisdom or advice. 

Denis always brings me back to what is most important – North Melbourne.   

There could be no better embodiment of our club than Denis and there is no better person to honour this season, starting with this week's game against Fremantle.

01:18

Second, Anthony Stevens, who resigned from the Board this week to concentrate on his growing business. Stevo has given his time tirelessly, and been a brilliant contributor around the Board table. On a personal note I have valued his relentless optimism and drive for excellence. 

Between Stevo and Denis, if I captured and expanded on the great memories these two have created for our club, I'd be writing for days. Instead, to Stevo, I say thanks and well done for your latest contribution to the club. Quite simply, you make us better. 

The Board will take the time to identify a replacement for Stevo, and I'll have more to say on that in the coming months.

Third, I wanted to mention Phil and Jim Krakouer. I won't comment on the specifics of their claim or the Supreme Court case. What I will say is that anyone who is old enough to have been at games throughout that time – and I am – will remember that Jim and Phil endured a lot as they became champions of our club. Phil and Jim – we hear you, and we wrap our arms around you.

And last – but by no means least – to the footy. With five debutants last week and two changes this week, it's a new-look line-up onfield, matched by an equally new-look line-up off field supporting Clarko

For the first time in a long time we've got an overwhelmingly fit list to start the season, which means plenty of competition for selection, and plenty of excitement for us as we get to know new players and a new game plan.

02:13

We saw a lot of promise last week, and a lot of work to be done. I'll back in Clarko, Todd and Jen to do the work, in footy and across the rest of the club. 

Saturday's game at the refurbished Marvel Stadium offers another opportunity to enjoy watching the emergence of this young and talented group – led by our returning skippers Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald – at our home ground for the first time this season. I ask all of you to join me in showing support however you can. 

See you at the footy – and Go Roos!

Sonja

PS. Congratulations to Tasmania on your jumper and logo. It’s not the best in the competition (sadly for you we've got that covered) but it's nice.

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