The following is a letter to members from North Melbourne Chairman, Ben Buckley.

Firstly, my thoughts go out to all those in lockdown and to those doing it particularly tough. I sincerely hope that you are getting through ok and have plenty of love and support around you.

It is the mid-way point of the season and I feel a good time to touch base with you and provide an update on how we are progressing with our longer-term club strategy and list rebuild.

While wins have been hard to come by in terms of securing four-premiership points, we are seeing small wins of a different kind on and off the field as we continue to lay the foundations for the future of our club. This requires diligent execution of all our plans and strategies and an understanding that we will not be deterred or pushed off the path we’ve elected to take, for short term results.

We are pulling out all stops to establish an elite football program under David Noble who has methodically stripped back our game-plan and has instilled a new way of playing and competing. At times we acknowledge it’s been frustrating to watch, but we need to be patient, understanding and supportive. With an entirely new coaching line-up, new players who have not played together much, and a new game style and systems in place, these things take time and a lot of hard work. However, we are comforted by the fact that this model has been used successfully before by successful teams, and that is obviously our goal.

I can assure you the benchmarks and standards that are being set are extremely high, and only those who buy-in completely will be part of the success we will achieve. As David has said many times, success is not linear and we are hell-bent on winning every time we take the field – but there will be many ups and downs along the way. As must be expected from such a young bunch of players. Our challenge as members and fans is to stay the course, keep the faith and support the team as best we can. We continue to look at our high-performance areas for gains and competitive advantage, identifying and developing elite talent through the draft, trade and free agency.

The past few weeks has seen a flurry of exciting activity for our club with two new additions and a number of contract extensions and re-signings.

We were strategic in keeping two spots available on our list coming into the mid-season draft. The club’s direction and future-focus was clear for all to see with No.1 pick, Jacob Edwards, added to our young and talented list. Edwards is still studying, so his energy and concentration will rightly be on his Year 12 education for the remainder of the year. While we won’t put a ceiling on his capabilities, our view is that he’ll be a key player for us for many years to come. With two list spots available, we also welcomed 19-year-old Charlie Ham, and both players have filled specific list needs for us.

Along with the excitement of the mid-season draft, our list management team has been diligently working in the background to secure the futures of some of our most promising players with Ben McKay, Will Phillips and Charlie Lazzaro - all recently signing two year deals. These players are part of the young nucleus we are establishing for the mid-to-long term and will be pivotal as we climb back up the ladder in seasons to come. We hope to have more exciting announcements soon.

Off the field Ben Amarfio and the admin team are doing everything they can to limit the impact of the latest Covid lockdown and implications. Our priority has been to keep the community safe, but to ensure we do our part to allow the season to continue. With no crowds allowed into Melbourne stadiums, we’ve sought to secure Blundstone Arena as a venue for future games which gives us the best chance of winning and allows us to fulfil our contractual obligations – something we were unable to achieve last season. We thank the Tasmanian government, CHO and state police for their co-operation and support.

We’ve also had some new partners join us, significantly increasing our stable of sponsors – Aqium, Tasmanian Heritage, HART Sport, Colonial Brewing Co, ELMO, Dominance and Coolabah Turf. We welcome them all to the North Melbourne family.

Together, we are building off-field sustainability and looking at all areas for substantial growth. The Arden Precinct planning is a key pillar as well as building an aspirational brand and increasing our fan-base. As we currently stand, we have grown our membership tally to over 43,000 – our 2nd highest tally in the history of our club. This is a phenomenal result given where we currently are in our rebuild cycle and for that we are forever indebted to you, our wonderful and loyal members.

Your generosity and passion is critical, but not something we take for granted. Remarkably, we are on track to surpass our all-time membership record this season which is a glowing endorsement and shows our people not only care strongly for their club, but believe in what we’re doing and trying to achieve. Thanks to you and our incredible sponsors and partners, we are still aiming to be debt free at season’s end and we hope to be profitable yet again.

In the second half of the year, we hope to see more continual improvement, and will gladly welcome back the likes of Robbie Tarrant, Jed Anderson, Jaidyn Stephenson, Jarred Polec, Aidan Corr, Luke McDonald, Aiden Bonar and Kyron Hayden into the line-up – all have been sorely missed.

Again, take care in these challenging times. We hope to provide you with plenty of encouragement, cheer and a vision of the future that lies ahead for us for the remainder of the season.

Go Roos!

Ben Buckley.