SEN Time On host Sam McClure was full of praise for what occurred at the Melbourne Football Club this week.
Hollywood superstar Natalie Portman, of Star Wars, The Black Swan, Closer, Thor and V For Vendetta (among many others) fame, visited Demons training at Gosch’s Paddock on Wednesday morning.
It was not the usual publicity stunt that we have seen in the past and McClure felt it was a very strong sign of the state of the game.
“The footy world is still abuzz with who won and lost with their selections in last week’s National Draft,” McClure said.
“It’s quite simply hard to fathom that it would be a Hollywood star who would steal the footy headlines.
“And for good reason too.
“Without any security or fanfare and with as little fuss as possible, Academy Award winner Natalie Portman wandered down Swan Street to Gosch’s Paddock to watch the Melbourne Football Club train.
“Now, whilst the initial public reaction of shock and glee was intoxicating in Melbourne today, the image of an A-Grade celebrity – a global superstar – and a champion for gender equality wearing an AFLW jumper in November cannot be underestimated and will ultimately be reflected upon, I believe, as a significant, albeit somewhat trivial moment for both the club and the game.”
Melbourne’s player development manager Shannon Byrnes gave Time On some insight into how the exalted stopover came to pass, as one of Portman’s American friends lives and works in Melbourne.
“Living in Melbourne for the past 10 years and Natalie just came over to visit,” said Byrnes.
“Her friend’s two sons are mad Demons so Natalie wanted to know what these boys were loving and the sport that they were into.
“So she just asked if she could come down to train and we made way and thought ‘why not?’.”
And Byrnes also suggested that some younger Demons were inexplicably unaware of Portman’s star status.
“A fair few of them (first to fourth-year players) actually weren’t aware of who she was,” he added.
“But we did have a few Star Wars fans who were just as excited as I was. Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes were doing everything they could to get near her as well.”