Melbourne Storm is a professional Australian rugby league team that is based in the city Melbourne, in Victoria. They compete in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition. Melbourne Storm is one of the most recent additions to the competition, prior to the formation of the Gold Coast Titans they were the newest team on the league. The club is the first professional grade team to be based out of the state of Victoria.
Melbourne Storms beginnings are rooted in the Super League. The club has been built on strong club values of hard work, respect and team work. Melbourne Storms fans are passionate and they show up in droves to show their support of the team during games.
The club was first founded in 1997 in the midst of the Super League war and made their first entry into the competition in 1998. Once the Super League collapsed the club was absorbed into the re-unified NRL.
Melbourne Storm has taken out three premierships since they were founded. Their first win was in the second year, 1999, the next was 2012 and 2017. The club was stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships following a decision made by the NRL due to salary cap breaches. The club has made a number of appearances in Grand Finals over the course of the years. The club also took part in the National Rugby League’s under-20’s until its end in 2017. The club has also expanded with a netball venture that began in 2017.
The club has won four minor premierships in their time in 2011, 2016, 2017 and 2019. They have a win rate of 65.85% which is the best of any of the clubs in the league. Their current record for a winning game streak is 15 matches. Their all-time highest scoring game was 70 points in a match against the Illawarra Dragons but their biggest margins was a 64 point difference in a game with the West Tigers where they won 64-0, and repeated the record in a game with the Canberra Raiders in a 68-4 win.
The clubs most capped player is Cameron Smith who has made 408 appearances in NRL games, which is a league record as he is the only player in the league to reach more than 400 games. He is also the league’s highest points scorer with 2592 points during his career. Their Fullback, Billy Slater , has the most tries with the club, having scored 190 tries over the course of his career. Players for Melbourne Storm have also won the Dally M medal on five occasions over the decades. They have also had more Golden Boot winners than any other club.
Melbourne Storm turns over around $25 million dollars a year putting it toward the top of the clubs in the league. The club is however said to lose millions each year. They have high membership numbers but small average crowd numbers. The club also owns a hotel which helps to offset the clubs losses each year, effectively helping the club to break even at the end of each year.
Melbourne Storm has recently been stripped of premierships, fined $700,000 and forced to pay back $1.1 million in prize money as a result of a salary cap investigation that found they had been breaching the salary cap for a number of years. The salary cap breaches allowed the team to attract some of the best players in the league.
The clubs home ground is based at AAMI Park. This has been their home ground since the 2010 season. Before that, most of the clubs home matches were played at the Olympic Park Stadium which has now been demolished. The park was known as the Graveyard amongst fans due to the teams impressive 77.2% win rate at the ground. It was at the Olympic Park Stadium that the team played their first home match following three successful away game wins. The game against the North Sydney Bears drew a crowd of 20,522, the largest attendance for the club at the Olympic Park home ground.
The club also helped the NRL to set the record for attendance during this period, during the 1999 Grand Final which was held at Stadium Australia. The match was between Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons and was the clubs first NRL premiership. The record is now unbreakable because the stadiums capacity has been reduced.
The team used Olympic Park as their home ground until the end of the 2000 season. The club was attracting large numbers of spectators at the time, with an average of 14,622 in attendance so they decided that they should relocate to Dockland Stadium, which had a much larger capacity, However Docklands stadium was configured to suit AFL games and the stadium management team was reluctant to reorganise the seating to suit Rugby League games. The team missed finals that year so spectators had seen a decline and it was decided to move the club back to Olympic Park. Docklands stadium was still used for home games up until 2010. The use of Dockland Stadium allowed the club to set an attendance record of 33,427 during a 2007 game against Parramatta.
From the 2002 season, the clubs average spectator numbers began to decline until they reached the 2004 season when they had their lowest average crowd of 8,886 per home game. The club however began a vigorous recruitment drive and with a new player roster to get fans excited, their spectator averages rose steadily in the years following. The team played their final game at Olympic Park in the 2009 season. The club was intended to be relocated to AAMI Park but the delays in construction meant that they could not play their first home game their until round 9 of the 2010 season, so their first few home games for 2010 were played at Etihad Stadium. Since their first game at AAMI Park was played the club has played all of their home games at the park.
Following their 2012 premiership win, the clubs crowd numbers and averages attendance continued to rise. The clubs attendance record for AAMI park was 28,716 and was set during the ANZAC day match when the club faced off against the New Zealand Warriors. Their average increased to 18,079 during the 2016 season.
Craig Bellamy is the club current head coach, he was a former player for the Canberra Raiders. Craig Bellamy began his career working alongside Wayne Bennett as the assistant coach for the Brisbane Broncos.
Emblem and Colours
The club was originally set to be called the Melbourne Mavericks which was going to be accompanied by a gunslinger logo but then Lachlan Murdoch advised they go with something else, as the name and logo sounded too American. It was the CEOs Chris John and John Ribot who decided to go ahead with the themes of lightning, power and storm so then the name ‘Melbourne Storm’ was decided upon. The club originally chose the colours of Victoria, navy and blue, but it was suggested that the club use colours that were more eye-catching for merchandise so it was suggested that they go with purple and gold.
All four colours were used until 2005, when gold was removed and silver was introduced instead. In 2010, gold made a return and silver was removed. From 2013 onwards a new jersey design was introduced, the jersey used more navy blue and purple lightning bolts. During 2015 there was another change to the jersey made and the V that had always previously been featured was removed from the jersey, but it made a return in 2016.
During the years between 1998 and 2001 the Melbourne club was the only team to display player names on the back of their jerseys. They did this because there was no major sponsor for the tem to display on the front and back of their jerseys at the same time. They gained their first major sponsor in 2001, this was Adecco. In 2017 the club celebrated their 20th anniversary with a logo that featured the words ‘Melbourne Storm 20 years’. In 2018 the club introduced a new logo with no shield and with the colour yellow dropped from the logo.
Melbourne Storms mascot is known as Boom. He is featured heavily in merchandise and dons the teams colours of purple, navy, white and gold.
Melbourne Storm have a strong supporter base and are in fact the NRL’s fourth most popular rugby team, with a fan base that was 800,000 strong in 2009. The clubs fan club is called the Graveyard Crew, they’re known for making a banner for the team to run through at the start of each of their games. They have some notable supporters and celebrity fans including music critic Molly Meldrum, Olympians Nicole Livingstone and Jana Pittman and TV personality Waleed Aly amongst many others.
The team was formed as a result of Super league boss, John Ribot pushing for a Mlebourne e-based club to join the competition. Considering there were 21 rugby teams throughout Australian in 1997, but none in Australia’s second largest city, the move made sense. The club debuted during the 1998 seasons after being unveiled during a function at the Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. The club won their first game against the Illawarra Steelers and went on to with their next three games. They made it to the finals in their first year, but were defeated by the premiership winners, the Brisbane Broncos. In 1999 the club won eight of their first eleven games and went on to win their first premiership in a match against the St George Illawarra clubs.
The clubs performance was weaker between 2001 and 2002, and they failed to make the finals in 2001 and finished in 10th place in 2002. The club recovered between 2003 and 2005. The team made the finals each year but did not make the Grand Final game. In 2007, Melbourne Storm finished the season with a minor premiership win and the following year made the Grand Finals, however they suffered the worst defeat of any team inn the history of the league losing 40-0 to Manly.
In 2009 the club finished 4th on the ladder. The club was also voted the NRL team of the decade for the 2000s. In 2010 the club made the move to their new home ground of AAMI Park. This was also the year that the club admitted to some serious salary cap breaches, which resulted in them being stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships and receiving a hefty fine. In 2011, Melbourne Storm returned to the top of the NRL ladder, going on to win a minor premiership. They did not win the Grand Final however. In 2012 the club started off strong with a 9 game winning streak.
However this was followed by the clubs second worst ever losing streak, five games between rounds 16 and 21. They began to recover after round 22 however and went on to claim the premiership. In 2013 the club finished in 3rd. In 2015 the club started an academy to develop talent. In 2016 the club made it to the 2016 NRL Grand Final. In 2017 Melbourne Storm won the premiership.