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The story of a swan, two giants and a sandgroper


A swan, a pair of giants and a sandgroper were presented with life membership at the AFL Players’ Association 40th Anniversary celebration tonight.

David McKay is one of the founding fathers of the ‘PA serving as the first vice-president under Geoff Pryor from 1973. A La Trobe University student in his early 20s Swan McKay was not afraid to challenge the norm or pursue the radical. He was committed to achieving democratic and moral rights within a largely autocratic environment.

Along with the other founding fathers – Geoff Pryor, Gareth Andrews and Des Meagher – Swan was driven to ensure equal rights for all players, no matter their standing. This even included the Richmond players, who Carlton shared a bitter rivalry with during the early 1970s.

Swan was a man of action, when then president Geoff Pryor moved to Canberra; McKay filled the role of acting president, often hosting the meetings at his house in Parkville.

Famous for his friendly and affable nature, McKay is rarely lost for words and everyone involved in establishing the Players Association will reflect on his contribution fondly.

Former Richmond and Geelong player and former VFL Players’ Association president Gareth Andrews reflected on the contribution of Swan McKay ahead of the announcement.

Simon and Justin Madden are giants of the game in both a physical and metaphorical sense. During their playing careers the brothers combined for 710 AFL/VFL games, 765 goals, four premierships, six best and fairest awards and 11 years as president of the Players’ Association.

Simon served as president from 1987 to 1990 and negotiated the very first collective bargaining agreement with the AFL, an important step in establishing minimum payments to all players.

Madden was able to leverage his superstar status in the game to communicate to the wider playing group the importance of advocacy and a strong representative body for the players.

Simon still serves the Players’ Association as a member of its executive.

Former teammate Steve Alessio reflected on the contribution of Simon ahead of tonight’s presentation.

Justin followed his elder brother into the presidency and guided the ‘PA through eight years and many make or break moments.

It was a time of increasing professionalism and demands on the players.

The AFL withdrew its recognition of the Players’ Association in 1993 prompting the famous mass meeting on players at the Radisson Hotel. Everyone who was anyone attended this meeting – Dermott Brereton with his Harley Davidson motorbike – in what was a powerful showing of solidarity by the players.

Justin and his colleagues put together a legal team, which developed a strategy to demonstrate before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that a dispute did exist. They were successful and the subsequent negotiations led to the second CBA.

Former AFL Players’ CEO Brendan Gale on Justin…

When then AFL Players’ CEO Andrew Demetriou set about establishing a board of advisors to guide the players, former West Coast Eagles president Neil Hamilton was one of the first on Demetriou’s wish list.

He was the inaugural chairman of the AFL Players’ Association Advisory Board, a position he maintains, providing significant legal and business acumen to further the plight of the players.

As a strong leader and forceful negotiator he and the Advisory Board have helped the players in their own decision-making.

He has been tireless in thinking through approaches and strategies, which have helped, improve the position of players, ensuring that they have had a fair go.

Former PA’ president Ron Alexander on Neil…

The inductees join Geoff Pryor, Don Scott, Gareth Andrews, Michael Moncrieff and Peter Allen as the only life members in the 40-year history of the AFL/VFL Players’ Association.