Club News

Author: Sticks Hickmott

Whilst I’ll try and keep this short and sweet, I think that on such a special occasion, it’s important that we reflect back over what has been a fairly significant and worthwhile contribution by the Bomaderry Football Club to AFL on the South Coast. Having been involved with the Club since 1976, I along with Eddie Smith who joined the Tigers in 1977 have witnessed a lot of change. When we first became involved it was people like Alan Baker, Rex & Joanne Dry, Gordon & Christine Edwards, Bungy Williams, Jim Fraser and Jan Arnell who had laid the foundation that enabled this Club to gain a firm foothold in the local AFL competition. Obviously there were a lot of other people that had a significant input, however I would be here forever and a day if I were to name each and everyone. My early memories of Artie Smith were of a rock hard surface with very little grass and howling winds. We trained hard, and then stood around the trailer for 2 hours in the cold drinking coldies and reminiscing about feats both on and off the field. In the mid seventies the Club was blessed with great talent, but was unable to break through for a premiership losing 3 on the trot between 74 and 76. In those early days there were a number of characters that took me under their wing and made me feel extremely welcome such as Jim Fraser, the Vergeer’s, Rex, Charlie, Rats, Oges, Ian Lockett and Alan & June Coats to name but a few. Hopefully as I’ve matured, although there are those who might suggest I never will, I have had a similar impact on other players coming through. Although, I suggest Cocko, Eel, Tassie and Mick Whiteley might not be the best people to ask for a character reference.

Along the way there have been a number of memorable Bus Trips, many of which are best left alone or in the presence of selected company. Who could forget the trip to Eden and the ensuing headlines or the venture to Budgewoi. No doubt Barnsey is still coming to grips with being beaten by a young and enthusiastic Tony Menhennett in a can shooting frenzy. As hard as Charlie tried, he couldn’t get Norm up against Mental who some say, never recovered from the ordeal. Maybe there’s a case or two to answer (parden the pun).

In 1978 the Tigers finally broke through for their first Premiership success with a Reserve Grade Flag which they celebrated in fine style. Some of those players are here tonight which is great to see and I can still remember the street parade with the famous WHOOA Staff Car leading the way. In the early 80’s thanks largely to the drive and tremendous efforts of Doug Cornish and in particular the late Peter Cobble, the Club embarked on what at the time, was considered a major risk, with a plan to build a Clubhouse. This involved input from the Shoalhaven Council, local businesses and tradesmen, funding from Jack Elliott and the RSL, and an enormous amount of hard work and effort by everyone involved with the Club at the time. Since the Club was opened in 1984, the Club has been involved in a number of projects, including the erection of a fence around the ground, turf around the Clubrooms and more recently improved lighting on both sides of the oval. If only Jim Vergeer was here to see the lights. The playing surface has also been upgraded and is now as good as any other ground in the league, which almost seems unfair when you think back to the 70’s. Would have made Eddie’s job a lot easier.

After so many years of hard work and effort both on and off the field, the Tigers finally broke through for their maiden First Grade Premiership in 1989 under the guidance of Robbie Pekin. Since then, they have tasted further success in 1994, 2000, and 2004 whilst the Reserves were successful in 2003 and 2004. Over the years, Bomaderry has had a host of extremely gifted players, many of whom have gone onto represent the Club at higher levels. As you can appreciate, it almost impossible to compare players from different era’s and I for one, will not be drawn into naming the best players to have represented the Tigers as each year, the competition differs along with the standard. However, from my perspective it would be hard go past Mick Partridge a 4 time B&F, Graham Charles who was the first player to represent NSW from outside of the Sydney metropolitan area, Steve Bayer and more recently Darren Gration, Bradley Graham and Matthew Ganderton.

Throughout the Club’s history, there has always been someone to stand up, and run the Club and they couldn’t have done that without good people around them. In my time as President, I had marvellous support from my wife Julieanne, Tassie Brown, Gary & Vicki Gilbert, Glen & Wendy Backhouse and Johnny Clayton to name but a few. Since then Craig Johnson, Ben Edwards, Barrie Berggy, Mick Partridge, Megan Wall, Andrew Pearn and a host of other people have made significant contributions, whilst more recently, the Club has been very well lead by Katy Daniel with great support form Craig Daniel, Steve Klein, Tony McCann, Paul Ellis, Dave Webb and so on.

As a player, I’ve been fairly fortunate, not only have I played with most of the players that have represented our Club, I’ve also had the pleasure of playing with some of their sons. I can still remember the Coats boys shoving paper up my nose to wake me up, then there’s been Paul Ward, Mitch Green and Paul Charles, all of whom have since hung up their boots. Chuck could have been anything, had it not been for a tragic accident, and for the last 5 or so years, I’ve had to put up with Terry Milne and his cheek. Kind of makes you feel old doesn’t it. I was also lucky to have played football with my two boys Adam & Matthew. Matt has only just turned 18, and is already closing in on 50 games, whilst Adam was going great, until he decided to take on a 4WD. Enough said.

Although the strength of AFL on the SCAFL has varied over the years, a telling factor behind the Clubs recent success can be largely contributed to the development of the Junior Competition which has provided the Club with a strong support base from which we as a Club have benefited significantly. Last years dual premiership success, featured approximately 20 or so players aged less than 21, of which the majority were from home grown talent, which is a far cry from the years when Navy contributed more than 90 percent of our players. With a strong committee, a good playing list and a Coach that the players look up to and respect, who knows what the next few years and beyond have in store for the mighty Tigers.

Hopefully, they can continue the Club’s great tradition and we can all get together in a few years and continue to speak with pride about our involvement with the Bomaderry Football Club, the friendships we’ve made and the memories we share.

Finally, before we get on with the main reason why where all here tonight, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t acknowledge the contribution and marvellous job Rats and June have done in organising this weekend’s function. Well done WHOOA

In closing, again I must stress that there are obviously a hell of a lot of past players and members who have been a big part of, and done a great deal for this Club. This includes our Sponsors and supporters and if I failed to mention your name please don’t be offended. Enjoy the night and thanks for making the effort to get here.