End of Year Report - CEO Tom Bottrell

Sunday, January 13, 2019 - 9:05 AM

THE 2018 season brought a lot of enjoyment on-field for the majority of the season, only to see us fall on preliminary final day. There are varying circumstances each season, however I know everyone involved in our Football Department, Board and Administration were disappointed to lose to West Perth and not reach the first ever Grand Final to be played at Optus Stadium.

Having convincingly accounted for West Perth in the qualifying final and a spirited performance against Subiaco in the second semi-final, the loss was hard for us to accept as we felt we were at least in the top two teams for the entire 2018 season and wasted an opportunity to play off for the premiership. 

Highlights include the performance of our WJ Hughes Medal winner Marlion Pickett who put himself in strong contention to be drafted into the AFL. His growth is another strong endorsement of the work Todd Curley and the coaches do in having mature aged players primed to succeed at AFL level if given the opportunity. On that theme, congratulations to Tim Kelly on a superb first season with Geelong, where he finished in a tie for runner-up with Patrick Dangerfield in their best and fairest voting. The fact that only Nathan Buckley has polled more Brownlow votes in their first AFL season is testimony to the season Tim put together. 

Off-field we saw an improved financial position compared to last year though it was still a difficult period in terms of fundraising. Specifics are highlighted in the Finance Report, however the key areas that were down on budget were Sponsorship, the Club Auction and the Club Raffle. These three items alone combined were short of budget by around $40,000.

In order to re-engage them, we have sent 2019 membership renewals to all lapsed members as far back as 2014. Once we have a database that we are confident is accurate, the intention is to email renewals rather than post from 2019 onwards. The costs associated with printing and posting 12,000 sheets to 3000 current and lapsed members is not at all efficient, so we will need your help in this changeover. There will obviously be some members that do not have email addresses and we can continue to post those but, overall, if you don’t use Facebook, look at our website or receive our e-newsletter, please call the club and we can update your details with the most appropriate correspondence method. 

Life Member nominations, as approved by the Board, will be endorsed at this year’s AGM and if successful as expected, we welcome to the life member ranks Ryan Cook, Peter Johnson, Hassa Mann and Peter Taylor-Thorpe. Ryan Cook becomes an automatic selection having played 150 senior games, Peter Johnson has given wonderful support over 20 years from both a financial perspective and providing employment to 40 of our players; Hassa Mann is our 1970 premiership coach and long-time co-patron and Peter Taylor-Thorpe has volunteered many hours in any role he’s been called upon to do for in excess of 25 years. Congratulations to all these worthy recipients. 

Last year I reported that were close to signing off the new agreement to remain at Fremantle Community Bank Oval. As we sit here now, we are still working through some details of the agreement which relate to the sub-lease with the Fremantle Football Club. Those obligations and the responsibility for any redevelopment were taken on by the City of Fremantle upon the Dockers exit in August, 2017.  Whilst those negotiations have been going on, the partnership is working very well in the background. Since moving to Fremantle Community Bank Oval approximately 12 months ago, the City’s grounds and facilities team has been fantastic in their support of our needs from a football perspective. 

The wonderful support of our many corporate partners continued in 2018 and we quite literally could not survive without them. To our major partners; Peter Johnson - Metro Lintels, Deb Rule and Pan Santosa - Bendigo Bank, Paul McGovern - WA Hino, John Hughes, Dean Ercecgovic – Primero, Greg Poland – Strzelecki Group and Bruce Scatterfield - Total Eden, we thank you for your unwavering support. We also have a good network of support sponsors and we sincerely thank you all for partnering us. 

Best wishes to Bruce in your pending retirement and thank you and Total Eden for backing the Bulldogs.

Wherever possible, we ask members and sponsors to utilize the businesses within the South Fremantle family. Our new Corporate Partnerships Manager – Russell Fletcher - will be compiling the Business Directory which we see as a great way to utilize the services of a fellow SFFC partners whenever possible. Look out for the Directory in the early part of 2019.

I’d firstly like to congratulate fairest and best winners for 2018; League: Lauren Vecchio Reserves: Pearl Kellie Youth: Mim Strom. The Youth Girls unfortunately lost the preliminary final however we are fortunate to have one of the most passionate and caring coaches in Adrian Ivancich and a host of talented young players coming through the ranks. To league coach Jenna Allomes and reserves Miles Kemp, thank you for your efforts in what proved to be a very difficult season on-field. 

Throughout 2018 we have undertaken a ‘One Club’ strategy which now sees Female Football sit under SFFC Football Department management. This is in-line with the WAFC and AFL’s strategy to enhance the quality of Female Football by utilising the resources of the State League clubs.

2019 will see a new era in Female Football in that the WAFL-W will be launched and made up of six teams. At this point, we still do not know if we will be one of the six teams but, regardless, we will be playing football in either the WAFL-W or the revamped WAWFL which will effectively be the second division.  Given that on-field performances have been poor in both our league and reserves teams, we need to nurture our young talent and bring in some quality players to be competitive. 

To manage the decision-making process as female football continues to grow, a board sub-committee made of South Fremantle Director Bruce Willis (Chair), Paul Mugambwa (GM Stephen Michael Foundation), Tom Bottrell (CEO), Greg Dowbnia (SFWFC President) and includes three appointments from the current SFWFC committee, will effectively replace the current SFWFC committee.  

The intention is for the SFWFC Constitution to be dissolved at the November 30 AGM and SFFC will ensure the history and heritage of the female club will be preserved from that date onwards, if that is how the SFWFC members choose to vote. 

I am fortunate to be able to go to work daily with a team that operate so efficiently and collaboratively. Jess Nolan continues to develop into a leader amongst the administration staff and Brooke Lombardo, after just 18 months here, is ready to take-on new responsibilities and roles.

Drew Mazalevskis left us in September and we thank Drew for his time here and the contribution he made to the South Fremantle Football Club.  Russell Fletcher replaced Drew as Corporate Partnerships Manager having been a life-long supporter and long-time sponsor. Based on the start that Russell has had, I’m confident we will close the gap on the sponsorship budget deficit for 2019 and beyond.

Thanks once again to our Football Operations Manager - Dave Depane - who does a great job in managing the demands of the football schedule. Dave is a very well planned and organised and this is vital in a role such as Football Operations. Whilst now employed by the WAFC, I still want to acknowledge and thank our Talent Manager – Jason Pedulla – for the work he does with our talent program and in the district. 

Steve McCarthy has been a fixture here since the mid 1990s and nothing is too much trouble for him. Assisted by Lorne McGuinness, Steve performs those behind-the-scenes tasks that most people would overlook, and he ensures our facilities are in good order. Thanks to both of you gentleman for the unrecognised work that you do.

Lastly, thank you to all our volunteers and staff for your efforts in 2018.

To President, Ray Van Burgel, thank you to you and the committee of the PP&O for all you do for our great club. I look forward to being involved in planning for 2019 and to build this important club coterie group with each of you. We need to make a priority of keeping in contact with every past player and official that walks through our gates regardless of whether they played one reserves game or volunteered for 10 years.   

Major change is once again upon us in the form of a 10th WAFL team. West Coast Eagles and East Perth have dissolved their alignment partnership and West Coast will now become a WAFL team in their own right.  I’m sure we would all love to go back to having the Eagles players allocated across their teams of origin, however, it will never return to that model and we have to keep looking forward to ensure the WAFL survives. 

The money injected into the WAFL via the two AFL teams is such that, at least financially, the WAFL could not vote against such a move. The consolation is that West Coast have been exceptional to deal with in this process and genuinely care about WAFL football. 

One of the expected outcomes is that we should see a more consistent home-away flow with the fixturing given that we now have an even number of teams. However, the impact of this is that South and East Fremantle, along with East and West Perth, will now only play two derbies per season. 

To Haydn Raitt, who completes a wonderful contribution to our club over 21 years, thank you on behalf of all past & present players, supporters and members for the heart you have given to the cause. Haydn will remain a Board Member of the Stephen Michael Foundation and this is a role he enjoys so he is certainly not lost to us. To all Board Members, you have been a great group to work with this year and we thank-you for the many hours you put in. We have a big job to ensure the redevelopment of Fremantle Community Bank Oval sets up our future and I’m confident we have the current Board members to do it.

Have a great Christmas and New Year and thanks for supporting the Bulldogs.