Where are they now – John Ribot
It is safe to say that our Club would not be here today if it was not for John Ribot.
The founding father of Melbourne Storm had a vision in 1998 and that vision has become an incredible reality over the last 20 years.
The concept of rugby league was completely foreign to Melbourne back in the late 90s, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of Ribot and his team, Storm has grown to be a part of the fabric of this city.
Ribot still lives in Melbourne, where he has a number of business interests and remains a regular at Storm home games.
His purple pride still runs deep some twenty years after he first created it, he likens the Club’s journey to a “magic carpet ride” that just keeps on giving.
“Seeing Storm to where they are now and the job the board has done is fantastic,” Ribot said.
“Craig and Frank have become great friends of mine. In ways it does become your extended family, which we have also tried to set out to do.
“Even with Billy and Cooper, they’ve become personal friends, we’ve seen their families grow up.
“I am really proud to be on the fringe of it.”
He may be on the fringe now but nobody was more front and centre during those early days than Ribot.
The thought of building a professional sporting Club from scratch would be a daunting prospect for most people however Ribot was ambitious from the start and never wavered from that.
“We always wanted to be better than the Broncos. We weren’t trying to be arrogant saying that, a lot of people thought it was a big statement to make but I don’t apologise for that,” Ribot said.
“The staff in those early days made a real commitment to the Club. Even the players, they came down here with no guarantees.
“We had a criteria to fill and if we didn’t fill that criteria we would get kicked out of the competition. That happened to a few teams and it could have easily have happened to us if the government and corporate Victoria didn’t get behind it and our sport.
“As it has evolved that has all just gone from strength to strength. It has been a fantastic journey.”
And what of the Storm fans? Gratitude is only one word he uses to describe what they have meant to the Storm’s success.
“We realised this Club is not going to grow unless we get the support of the people. That support has been fantastic,” Ribot said.
“My love of Melbourne has just kept growing. Once you live in Melbourne, understand it, get some great friends, that is how it starts.”
The Storm culture is something that people often highlight as the key difference when comparing this Club to others in the country.
Ribot was largely responsible for building that.
It is no secret he says, you simply just start with good people.
“If you surround yourself with great people and they want to work for your Club then it is amazing what you can achieve,” Ribot said.
“Chris Anderson was a crusty old coach who knew how to win. Everything we did was about creating a Club and creating a culture where people are used to winning.
“Expectations were set very high so we could achieve those things. We wanted to do things that were bigger and better than anyone else, we should never apologise for that.”
He looks proudly at the Melbourne Storm that exists today, even with a bit of disbelief.
“I pinch myself when I see what Craig has done with the players and what the players have done,” Ribot said.
“To have four golden boots come through one Club, I don’t think there is any Club in Australia that has achieved that.
“They should all feel very proud of their achievements, what they have done for the game has been outstanding.”