Well, our pre-season predictions of a very tight and even competition are proving to be spot on! There is little doubt that our best footy is good enough to match it with the leading teams, but after a tough nine rounds we find ourselves mid-pack needing to find greater consistency within games and week to week to make in-roads into the top eight.

I assure you that Pykey and his coaches, as well as the players, are working harder than ever to take the next step and we were pleased with the encouraging signs shown last week with improvement across a number of key areas of focus.

While every week is crucial in the race towards September and every match at Adelaide Oval important for the Club and its 60,000 plus passionate Members, tomorrow night takes on extra significance. Each year the AFL asks clubs to put forward a wish list for the fixture and we have made hosting a match during Indigenous Round a priority. In Eddie Betts, Charlie Cameron, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Curtly Hampton and Wayne Milera, we are blessed to have some of the most talented Indigenous players in the League proudly wear our colours. They are also quality people who help make our Club better and I am sure you will join me, and everyone in the Crows family, in recognizing, celebrating and embracing their culture.

Tomorrow night I encourage you to get to the ground and take your seat nice and early to enjoy the special pre-match activities. In a first for a Crows match at Adelaide Oval, the stadium lights will be turned off following the player warm-up at approximately 6.30pm. The darkness will allow a ceremony to recognise the contribution of Indigenous people to the game we all love with images to be projected onto the roof of the Eastern Stand. Amongst other things there will be a Welcome to Country, Smoking Ceremony, Indigenous dancers and flags and the playing of the Didgeridoo. Of course, the boys will proudly run out wearing the striking jumper designed by Eddie’s aunty, Susie Betts, which has enjoyed rave reviews and is sure to be worn by hundreds in the stands.

We also expect a decision soon on whether we have won a licence for what is likely to be an eight-team national women’s competition in 2017. We put forward a compelling tender submission and remain confident of a positive response. To ensure we remain at the forefront of the race, we have upped the focus on our planning and preparation. This includes assembling a panel to oversee the search for the inaugural coach, investing time in talent identification and putting together community and commercial models, which will make what will be the third team playing under the Crows banner a viable and successful one. I am heading to the Northern Territory in coming weeks to further strengthen our partnership with AFLNT, to inspect high performance facilities, and meet with some players and prospective corporate partners. Of course, tomorrow afternoon at 4.40pm we will be treated to elite women’s footy with a Northern Territory team to play South Australia in the curtain raiser at Adelaide Oval. This will also serve as an important part of our talent identification and list build process.

I expect another large crowd at Adelaide Oval with over 50,000 tickets already sold. To date we are averaging in excess of 50,000 in home match attendance which by any measure is extraordinary. The vast majority of sporting clubs around the world would love to have the same level of passionate support and commitment from their fans, so once again I owe you a very big thank you! The support is genuinely appreciated by the players and everyone at the Club and recognised and applauded by the AFL and industry more broadly.

It is worth noting that we have also been delivering exceptional television ratings for host broadcaster Channel 7 with our recent match against Hawthorn peaking at 1.45 million viewers which is the highest AFL audience for 2016. There was also huge interest in our game against Geelong with 1.33 million tuning in. The Crows Show, which we create and produce entirely ourselves, also continues to dominate the ratings in its regular Sunday morning timeslot on Channel 7 Adelaide. The show moves into prime time this weekend with a special edition on Saturday night prior to the broadcast of our match against GWS. For those who can’t make the match, make sure you switch on at 7pm. If you are attending the match, you can replay The Crows Show on afc.com.au or on our App afterwards!

On lots of levels this is a big weekend – it is sure to be a great show and let’s hope the boys can get the job done against an in-form Giants team!

As always, We Fly As One!

Cheers, Fages