Watching events unfold in the lead up to the AFL Grand Final, I experienced a real void in my life. It was one that I couldn’t explain, one that I had never experienced in my life before – there was an earthquake on a day of protests (at the Shrine of Remembrance of all places).
Fast forward to Grand Final evening and I felt the world rotate again. The human spirit in my home was buzzing with what unfolded through our TV screen from Perth. In what felt like the blink of an eye, I was watching young boys that used to be part of Hampton Rovers – from Auskick to Juniors to Seniors – now fulfill their dream of playing in an AFL Premiership. It was heartwarming and good for the soul.
It came as no shock that former Rovers, Christian Salem and Angus Brayshaw, were listed in the best players for Melbourne given the game they had. Jayden Hunt, another former Rover & Zebbie, unfortunately missed his opportunity through injury late in the season but was still an integral member of the team. Congrats lads. It was always a pleasure watching you as Juniors and now as Premiership stars.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, every morning I head to the beach at 5.30am to catch up with Evan and Dave, two men I met a decade ago via Marc Stafford Health and Fitness. We support each other and talk openly about family, friends and current issues whilst doing a bit on exercise (physically distanced of course).
Thursday mornings I meet with fellow Rover dads and have coffee on Ludstone Street. It’s become known as Coffee Club to Brett Williams, Joe Giblin and Ash Roberts (The Captain). These blokes are awesome and are always encouraging me to continue our work at the Rovers. We discuss everything. We often see Clarko, Rohan (President), Jase (past President) and many other Rovers past and current players.
I also catch up with other Rover/Zebbie dads, either over Zoom, or for exercise, or grab a beer and have a social chat. Last night, in the rain under the eve at Boss James, I looked in the vacant rooms of the club house. I said to former Rovers Secretary, Gav Sharp, how I miss sitting in the social rooms and watching the kids train. Gav was very much the same – he has been a great sounding board of mine for many years and an awesome community man.
These times have proven vital for me personally. Connection has proven to be the best tonic. I encourage all members to reflect on how you have spent your time over the last 20 months – what connections you have made, who with and the lighter and jovial moments that were experienced.
If you, as a member, have a gap here and need connection, feel free to join me at Hampton Surf Life Saving Club at 5.30am. 😊
I have spent long periods of time feeling for our community – what’s been missed, watching our youth trying to stay active, and sadly hearing several stories of children regressing in study and physical activity.
Several teams have held their Best and Fairest presentations via Zoom, the feedback has been very positive. I sat through the U16 squad presentation and thought the players were engaged and enjoyed the hour that Peter C put together. But I still have several teams that have not picked up their trophies, so please call me and drop by to grab them.
2022 will be my youngest son’s final year at Rover Juniors, U17. I’m not quite sure where that time went. I look forward to seeing him, and his team, play at Boss James as just a dad.
Early 2022 will see me finish my time as Head of Football. I’ve been a part of the Rovers Committee since 2010 (with the exception of 2015), as well as three years running Auskick prior to joining the Committee. It has been very rewarding. Our numbers dropped off in 2015 drop off and Jason Nicholl invited me back to the Committee to help reshape the Club and create a vision for the future. It was an exciting time – our membership grew two-fold and protected every child from playing outside their silo of present development.
I would like to acknowledge a few members that help shape the club it is today.
- Ralph Bergman – the first person I met in my journey at the Rovers and an awesome man.
- Brett William – he shared the vision, was my right-hand man and always had my back.
- Ash Roberts – an excellent community man, coach, clubman and mate
- Phil Bourke – he ran Auskick admin with me for three years and was the President for a year. Phil’s a real advocate for change. He led the way for Girls football and encouraged the SMJFL to start a lightning carnival for girls with John Hine, the Zebbie President
- Jason Nicholl – the President for many years that encouraged me to reshape the football mythology at Rovers. He’s an outstanding leader.
- Richard Bowen – the Vice President with a level head who is passionate and a real supporter of equal opportunity and transparency
- Jo Adams – who helped drive Girl’s football. The first lady of coaching
- Emma Nicholl – likewise with Girl’s football and a constant support of the overall vision
- Amy Stokes – an awesome contribution and helped shape the One Squad thinking
- Rohan Bardwell – current President and smart guy. It’s been difficult circumstance to lead during COVID. You want him in the trenches
- Gavin Sharp – as mentioned above
- Stuart Murray – an outstanding community guy and coach. He shared the vision of bringing East Sandy and Rovers together.
- Peter Civitarese – he understood what we were trying to do and selflessly gave everything as the squad manager to help shape the position and design communications that let everyone understand that no group of children were more important than others.
- Simon McPhee – an elite coach. One to bounce items off and laugh with along the way.
To the current committee: Alisdair, Kate, Lara, Kim Michael and Leonie, your work in recent times under COVID restrictions is beyond excellent. You never wavered. It was always about the children. Thank you and all the best.
Congratulations and all the best to Christian Carnovale who will take over the role of Head of Football in the new year.
To all volunteers past and current, coaches and team managers – you all make a difference. Never underestimate the time you give. It is good for the soul. Your child will never forget the effort you put in as community leaders.
To the community of Hampton Rovers – it’s been a blast. I look forward to seeing you all watching the kids run around in 2022. I can’t wait to see my three boys and their mates play the greatest sport on Earth. I will be there. And who knows… I love what the senior club are doing and I expect some time down the track I will help where I can.
Have a great summer everyone.
Never Forget – PASSION TEAMWORK FUN RESPECT