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All in – The Origins of the AFL Players’ Association

It is Monday, December 10 1973…

on the radio, Suzi Quatro belts out ‘48 Crash’ but The Rolling Stones’ ‘Angie’ remains top of the music charts. F Troop still precedes the ABC News and Number 96 pushes the boundaries.
Gough Whitlam has just celebrated his first anniversary as prime minister. Having been elected on the back of the slogan It’s Time he continues to push reform. He has the support of those who’d become frustrated by the strictures of Sir Robert Menzies’ conservatism.

The troops are home from Vietnam. The protest movement has shown the power in collective activism, if well-led and well-organised.

It’s a changing world.

Gough has tapped into the spirit of the moment: the counter-culture and its freedom, its democracy, its egalitarianism, its commitment to possibility and opportunity – for all.

In the early evening a few dozen footballers – from across the clubs – gather in the Union Building at the University of Melbourne. They have responded to the invitation from Geoff Pryor and Gareth Andrews, to come together to discuss the idea of a representative players’ collective.

Geoff is a highly-respected senior player at essendon. Gareth has played over 100 games at Geelong. They have been meeting regularly to discuss their concerns. They believe strongly that players should have a say in how footy is administered; that they should have a platform which allows them to be involved in the decision-making process on matters which affect them directly. They see it as an issue of natural justice; of fairness.

The gathering decides to formally establish a players’ association. They agree to meet again early in 1974. It doesn’t seem hugely important at the time, but it is one of the most significant moments for players in VFL history.

Read on….All in – The origins of the AFL Players’ Association