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Swans' surge drives new AFL club membership record

Hawks vulnerable, Cale's hope, Pies alarm Nat Edwards presents Footy Feed
Every year, AFL fans commit to their club to show the passion and loyalty for their favourite players
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

PORT Adelaide's stellar 2014 season has pushed its club membership past city rival Adelaide's for the first time.

The Power's run to a preliminary final helped boost membership by more than 10 per cent to 54,057, overtaking the Crows' membership of 52,920.

The Sydney Swans have led the AFL's growth in club membership this season, adding almost 9000 members to be one of 12 clubs reaching record levels in 2015. 

The Swans' final tally of 48,836 was an increase of more than 21 per cent on their 2014 membership of 40,126.

The annual membership results were not as good for powerhouse Collingwood, however, which experienced the biggest dip, allowing Hawthorn and Richmond to close the gap at the top of the membership ladder. 

In boasting a record membership, the Swans were joined by the Hawks (72,924), the Tigers (70,809), Essendon (60,818), West Coast (60,221), Port Adelaide (54,057), Fremantle (51,433), Geelong (44,312), North Melbourne (41,012) and the Western Bulldogs (35,222).

Expansion clubs Gold Coast (13,643) and Greater Western Sydney (13,480) also experienced natural improvement to record levels, while Melbourne (35,943), St Kilda (32,746) and the Brisbane Lions (25,408) improved on their 2014 figures.      

The only teams to suffer drops in membership were Adelaide (52,920), Carlton (47,305) and Collingwood (75,037).

The overall tally, which was compiled after the July 31 deadline, was 836,136 club members nationally, with an overall increase of 31,656.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said it was "a wonderful tribute to our AFL clubs and the wider game" that one in every 28 Australians was a member of an AFL club.

"Every year, AFL fans commit to their club to show the passion and loyalty for their favourite players and the AFL thanks those supporters who are the game's driving force," he said.

"With more fans signed up to their club than ever before, I want to urge members to continue to make the most of their membership and support their club by attending as many games as possible over the course of a season."

While Collingwood remains the largest supported club in terms of membership, the gap to second-placed Hawthorn has dropped from 10,697 in 2014 to 2113 this season.

Third-placed Richmond's gap to the Magpies has also dropped, from 13,225 last year to 4948 in 2015.  

The Swans' AFL-leading membership growth was due to a highly successful junior membership engagement program, the AFL said.  

The Western Bulldogs, who have been boosted by on-field success, were second in growth with an 11.68 per cent increase.

AFL club membership has risen every year in the 25 seasons since 1990 with the exception of 2000, when the AFL season was moved forward by a month to accommodate the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Club-by-club membership breakdown

Adelaide 54,249 52,920 -1329 -2.45%
Brisbane Lions 24,012 25,408 1396 5.81%
Carlton 47,485 47,305 -180 -0.38%
Collingwood 79,347 75,037 -4310 -5.43%
Essendon 60,646 60,818 172 0.28%
Fremantle 48,777 51,433 2656 5.45%
Geelong 43,803 44,312 509 1.16%
Gold Coast 13,478 13,643 165 1.22%
GWS 13,040 13,480 440 3.37%
Hawthorn 68,650 72,924 4274 6.23%
Melbourne 35,911 35,953 42 0.12%
North Melbourne 39,060 41,012 1952 5.00%
Port Adelaide 48,968 54,057 5089 10.39%
Richmond 66,122 70,809 4687 7.09%
St Kilda 30,739 32,746 2007 6.53%
Sydney Swans 40,126 48,836 8710 21.71%
West Coast 58,529 60,221 1692 2.89%
Western Bulldogs 31,538 35,222 3684 11.68%
TOTAL 804,480 836,136 31,656 3.93%