Good morning members and supporters,

When I wrote to you just ahead of our first home game of the year back in March, we were embarking on a season with the youngest and least-experienced list in the AFL.

We were full of hope and optimism but also realistic in expecting a year of transition following the departure of so much talent and experience at the end of 2023. 

There’s been plenty to like in the first half of the year – more on that in a minute – but the inescapable truth is that the footy has been very hard to watch at times. Even the most optimistic among us – and that includes me – have been left despairing. 

I said at the start of the year that I wanted North Melbourne people to enjoy going to the footy again. Well, we haven’t had much enjoyment, have we? Although there may not have been short-term joy, I’d argue there is plenty of long-term hope – and we all need to lean into that as hard as we can.

There have been patches of good football within games but clearly we haven’t been able to maintain that long enough. Within those moments, we’ve already seen 36 players used – the second most in the competition – and we routinely field by far the youngest team of the round. 

Within those young teams, although the wins remain elusive, there has been a lot to like on a player-by-player basis. 

George Wardlaw and Colby McKercher have already scored AFL Rising Star nominations. Last year’s draftees Zane Duursma, Riley Hardeman and Wil Dawson have already made their AFL debuts, and 2023 Syd Barker medallist Harry Sheezel has simply picked up from where he left off last year.

07:33

In case you need reminding, the six names mentioned above are all teenagers and are the future of our club.

Others, like Tristan Xerri, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Zac Fisher, Charlie Comben, Tom Powell and Paul Curtis have enhanced their reputations this year.

In short, we’ve seen a lot of change in our playing personnel and some individual gains but it will naturally take time for everyone to gel.

On the other hand, for the first time in a long time, we have stability across the club, and most importantly, in our footy department. And anyone who’s been around footy will tell you that this is the first building block for success. 

Led by Alastair Clarkson and Todd Viney, most of our footy department are into their second year together and the alignment is as strong as ever. There is energy, optimism and the path is as clear as it has ever been.  

Be absolutely certain that we’re all impatient for success but we will not deviate from the plan we put in place when Clarko arrived at the club late in 2022. The road has been far from smooth but we have the very best people in place to navigate the bumps.

16:54

Understandably the focus for many of us is solely on the on-field performance but I want to assure you that a power of work is being done elsewhere to position the club well into the future. 

Among the big pieces of work being done off the field are:

  • Our eventual exit strategy from Tasmania when the Devils enter the competition in 2028
  • Working through the role the club will play in the newly re-worked Arden Precinct plans, with a long-term aim of enhancing our facilities to support on-field success, while continuing to embed ourselves in the local community
  • The refurbishment of parts of our Arden St home so we are maximising the facility for the benefit of our players and medical and high-performance staff.

Although these things won’t help with the short-term wins, they’ll make sure we’ll be fully able to capitalise on on-field success when it comes (and it will) – something I would argue we haven’t always done well in the past.

Finally, I just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to you, the most loyal fans in the competition. 

It’s been a challenging start to this year – and indeed a challenging past few years – but your unwavering support and love of our club has been incredible.

Whether it’s the messages we receive from you at the club, or the way you are there at the end of games to acknowledge the effort of the players regardless of the result; we know it’s all fuelled by love of the club and desire to be better – feelings we all share.

Our people remain uniquely stoic, loyal and supportive and that drives everyone at the club every day.

We have four more Marvel Stadium home games – against Collingwood (our 1999 premiership celebration game on June 16), the Bulldogs, Gold Coast and Richmond – and two at Blundstone – against Geelong and West Coast in rounds 20 and 22 – and that continued support will be vital in helping get our team over the line.  

Like all of you, I really hope the football is better to watch in the second half of the season, starting this week in the west. All I can promise is that we're going to keep on exactly as we have been – working hard with a clear eye to the future of our club, on and off the field, building a team and a culture that will take us to silverware.

So thank you, ‘Go Roos’, and see you at the footy.

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