Reds member Stephen Daughtry reflects on the exclusive club event held at Tapestry Wines on Sunday.
Adelaide United members were today treated to a fantastic meal and event at club owner Rob Gerard's Tapestry Winery in the McLaren vale.
A members only event, it did look like Melbourne-style weather (rain, hail and bright sunshine all in the matter of a few minutes) would put a dampener on the afternoon but the fantastic staff at the venue quickly moved everything undercover and Reds members were treated royally.
Tapestry Wines - a beautiful place in itself - was closed for the afternoon while loyal Reds fans enjoyed the company of the entire playing squad, coaches and owners. Not just your standard beer and barbie, Rob Gerard provided a sit down feast of fantastic food accompanied by free tapestry wines, Coopers beer and soft drinks. The Red Army table even managed to get a bottle of Tapestry 'sticky'. Well deserved too. Top that with amazing cheeses and dessert to make a group of Adelaide faithful feel truly appreciated after what has been a tough year for fans so far.
Rob gave one of the finest, funniest and most honest speeches you could hope for from an owner, admitting his recent addiction to the game came at the request of good friend Frank Lowy, and proceeding to roast a few players - especially poor Bruce Djite for his recent misses. It was done in such a good natured way no-one could take offence and as he went on to describe how annoyed his AFL mates were about his support of "soccer" he raised a cheer from the crowd.
Members got to chat with the players who roamed from table to table. It was also a great chance to catch up with fellow fans and 442 forum members. My six year old took the ball thrown to him by Paul Reid last year and got it signed by every single player. He may be one of the few six-year-old members of the club but this event will live long in his memory, having met all his heroes and especially having players like Cassio and Sergio treat him with real respect and interest. He ended his afternoon playing with Cassio and Greg Griffen's kids.
All up it was a wonderful day and a genuinely generous gesture by Rob Gerard. The event was free to members and there was room for more than came. Basically, if anyone had any doubts about the value of membership they were answered today. If we'd had to pay for an event like that it would have cost more than our memberships did.
But that wasn't the point. The afternoon was a real sign that the owners are prepared to reach out to the members and are trying to build a culture of openness. It's one thing to sit in the stands shouting encouragement or abuse at your beloved team but it changes when you've had the chance to meet them and understand that they're human beings trying the best they can.
One event won't turn a season around but - as a fan and member - it's made a difference to the way I'm thinking about the club.
And the best thing? It was announced that it'll be happening again next year. If you're not a member now - join!
So thanks to Rob, Greg and the other owners for the incredible generosity. Thanks to Kossie and the team for making the fans feel important. It's been a good day to be a REDS supporter.
Stephen Daughtry is an Adelaide United member and part of the club's Supporters Committee.