When I was in my early teens, our family used to buy The Age and Herald Sun on the weekend. Two newspapers meant a balanced opinion, sure, but to me, it meant two different sets of sports pages. It was heaven, really. I feasted on two football sections searching for answers to Essendon’s losses, glossing over their triumphs and statistics and reliving games of football through words. I would be sprawled across our living room floor and read – sometimes re-read – both newspapers front to back or until Dad or Mum wanted them back. This was a ritual that happened every weekend during football season.
Every footy fan has some recollection of how they got into football and how it became more than just a game watched at the M.C.G or on T.V. Newspapers, for me, became my portal into player’s lives. Elite sport scribes like Mike Sheehan became important storytellers and key sources of football information. They argued, broke news and penned compelling narratives. Today, there’s a glut of ways football fans can get their news: websites, smartphones, podcasts, Twitter. We are wired into a 24/7 news cycle where information migrates at warp speed. And now, football fans want more and more news on their teams and favourite players.
And that’s basically why The Fifty exists. The Fifty is a journal that will bring you long form stories about players, teams and nuances of the game; the same things you love about football, we love about football. We are a start up with no funding and we’re not entirely sure how long this project can last, but we’re committed to this season and hopefully beyond. I’ve been part of some premiership teams which felt pretty great; I think we have premiership idea and a flag worthy team of writers where we aim to deliver detail-rich essays and features to your phones and other devices. It’s important to note that we’re not traditional media. And we don’t break news. We’ll leave that to the Herald Sun and AFL.com.
The founding members of The Fifty are football fans, journalists, coaches, masters of sport and stat geeks. Darren Murphy, who is also editor-in-chief, is a lawyer-turned journalist and feature writer who is world famous for creating the “Bring the Chicko Roll to Canada” campaign. Nick Papadakis has spent the past six years building his football commentary and broadcast experience and has a blueprint for the AFL to improve their broadcast coverage.
Damien Peck writes for the ABC and is an editor for Footy Prophet who will write about football nostalgia and has an upcoming diatribe on the best and worst kicks in AFL history. Simon Drum who is completing his masters in sport psychology, is a contributor intrigued by the how the game is governed and the laws of the game. And finally we have a handful of freelance illustrators that will form part of the team providing slick-looking visuals.
What we want to do is write timeless pieces that can hold up three or five years from now even though it was written yesterday. We want to write annual books, keepsakes, littered with debates, wistfulness and Sunday reads. We hope the significance of our yarns keeps you coming back. We hope you’ll learn some things you never knew and we hope to learn some things along the way too. We’re here to add to the public dialogue about football, the greatest sport in the world. Darren and myself have worked together on a bunch of projects and believe you’ll get a kick out of The Fifty and what it will eventually evolve into. Watch for our stories, coming soon.
-Justin and Darren,
You can follow The Fifty on Twitter @thefiftyfooty