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27,000 strong

We've just ticked over 27,000 members, setting a new all-time membership record. Given the past two seasons have seen very few games played in Melbourne, that figure is a testament to the unwavering loyalty of our supporters. This club wouldn't exist without you. To celebrate, we spoke with two long-serving members who generously contribute to the game day experience each week.

Lance Maguire has been a paid-up member since the club's inception and is also a dedicated member of the banner crew.

Like most Melbournians, he grew up living and breathing Australian rules footy - he was a South Melbourne fan until the Bloods were relocated to Sydney in the early 80s.

"(After the relocation) I stopped watching Aussie rules," Lance explained.

"During a business trip to Canberra I was talked into attending a Raiders game by my friends Norm and Val Fisk - I had never seen a rugby league game.

"It was the first game of the season and the crowd at Bruce Stadium were real loud. The opening hit ups were unbelievable. I was instantly hooked.

"I have been a Raiders member since which has come in handy over the years as I have been able to catch up with Brett White and Glenn Turner, who were top players for Storm and completed their careers in Canberra."

Lance purchased four Storm memberships after attending a Super League promo event organised by John Ribot in 1998.

"John Ribot is a very persuasive speaker - it was easy for a Melbournian to become a Foundation Member.

"I became a member of the Banner Crew by accident. During 1998 a group of us formed the Melbourne Storm Supporters Club and started organising away trips to watch Storm play in NSW.

From memory the first banner was agreed to by Storm for the last home game against Western Suburbs – I think Lazzo scored his one and only conversion – we won handsomely and secured a place in the finals.

Lance Maguire Storm member of 23 years

"Our next banner was possibly one of our most artistic and was for the Grand Final, which we duly won against all odds.

"At the end of the 2001 season the AGM of the MSSC was being held... I was elected Secretary.

"The first job was to arrange a venue where we could make the banner and store equipment. The Oakleigh Masonic Centre was available for hire and they were happy to be on board.

"We have been there ever since and I have not missed a banner since 2002."

Lance said a strong relationship between members, the playing group, coaches and club staff was built during the club's early years.

"The Social Club was a sensational feature - the ability to meet and chat with our players after each game built a solid bond and the kids (young and old) loved it," he said.

"The introduction of the Under 20s was an even greater connection builder - you could see and meet our future stars.

"The coaches nights where our leaders conducted talks were invaluable. I learnt more listening to the coaching team and seeing how they prepared than I had by watching the game.

Storm means a great deal to our family. Every child, their spouse and their children are all staunch members. Up to the end of 2019 it was rare for any member of our family to miss a game. A meal before the game, the game itself, then social club and a meal after games that finished early had become a ritual.

Lance Maguire On what the club means to him

'Staunch' might be underselling it - Lance and his family are so committed they have travelled across the country and overseas to catch Storm games on numerous occasions.

"I’ve seen trail matches at Moe, Toowoomba, Hobart (twice), Casey and a number of country NSW venues," Lance said.

"I've travelled to away games at almost every ground and have completed two trips to New Zealand, three trips to the UK and three trips to Adelaide.

"The last two years have been tough. 2020 is the only Grand Final that we have not had family members in attendance.

"It would be great if we could recapture a mix of the old days of player attendance at a vibrant social club."

Julian Farrell has been a Storm member since 2010 - a rollercoaster year to sign up, just quietly.

"I'm originally from Sydney and moved to Melbourne in 2007. I used to follow the Canberra Raiders to Canberra and to away games every week but I gave the sport away during the Super League war in the mid 90s," Julian said.

(Sound familiar? Might be time for us to target Raiders fans as potential Storm converts).

Julian is a member of another supporter sub-group, the Storm Active Supporters.

"The group started when we moved to AAMI Park, as everyone who used to sit or stand together (at the Graveyard) had now spread all over the ground," he explained.

"It was like following a brand new club and the atmosphere at the beginning wasn’t great.

"We eventually settled up under the roof in Bay 38 (door 34) and have helped cultivate what is arguably the best atmosphere in the NRL."

Following Melbourne Storm has played a far more important role for me and my partner in assimilating into Melbourne life than we ever envisaged. I can follow the traditional code of the place I was from, while identifying with my new home in Victoria and supporting a team that is not only brilliant on the field but humble off it.

Julian Farrell Storm member of 11 years

Julian - who also leads chants for the Sydney Swans cheer squad - said his favourite thing about game day is starting up the 'we are Melbourne' chant on the megaphone after a try.

"Everyone in the northern end seriously loves it," he said.

"I originally went to a match at Olympic Park and as a Sydney Swans fan those days felt exactly like Swans games used to in the 'bad old days' in the early 90s.

"Everyone asked you, 'Did you like it? Would you come again?' You felt very welcome as an outsider.

"This outsider stuck around!"