It is a pleasure to be able to report that 2014-15 has been another strong year on and off the Greens for our Club. As ever this has not been without its challenges and there are many people to thank, and the inevitable call for those of you who have a little more time to give as a volunteer to do so. Ultimately it is only through the work of members that our Club will continue to grow and thrive. So I urge you all to think about what it is that you can do to help take our Club to the next level.
Our successes on the Green are emblematic of where we find ourselves as a Club. We started the year becoming back-to-back Premiers of Division 1 Winter Bowls in Melbourne, and also making the Division 2 Grand Final, a fantastic effort in a competition in which we are undoubtedly one of the leading clubs in all of the city. In night pennant we also won our local grand final, again enhancing our reputation after only a couple of years back in this form of the game.
In Saturday Summer Pennant the third side continued on their winning ways from the previous year with another Premiership for the Club, this time in Division 8. The other two sides made the finals but couldn’t quite push through to getting promotion to higher divisions – no doubt next year will be our year! A big thanks to everyone who helps to get the sides out onto the greens, in particular the selectors who continue to brave the slings and arrows to ensure we have the best possible chance to enjoy success.
Thanks to the Committee
I would of course like to pay particular thanks to the work of the Committee who give so many hours of their time to help run the Club. For a number of reasons I think that this year has been one of the most difficult years to be on the committee and so their efforts are all the more commendable. In the absence of a secretary extra duties have fallen to many members of the committee and I thank them for taking on these tasks without complaint. Unfortunately we have had to deal with a number of discipline matters which have been particularly contentious. As part of this year’s Annual General Meeting we will discuss a Code of Conduct for members, which will go a long way to clarifying what is acceptable behaviour around our Club and reinforce the right that all people who come here have to a safe and friendly environment. I urge you to support its adoption.
An eye on the future
The other major challenge that has faced the Committee is how to manage the transition from being a small club that has relied solely on volunteers to having some paid bar staff. In many ways this is a positive problem to have as it shows we have moved away from the dire financial situation we found ourselves in only a few short years ago.
One of the many strengths of the Committee is the broad range of professional expertise that they have as individuals, though that necessarily brings with it people who don’t have the capacity to work long shifts behind the bar. We are still searching for a model that ensures the culture and purpose of the Club remains intact while being sustainable in the longer term. In the meantime we owe a considerable debt to Colin "Tiger" Symes who adds weekday barwork to the many jobs he does around the Club. I also want to pay particular thanks to Mark Russell and Oliver Warren, who are tireless in their efforts to find innovative ways to tackle the problems with which we are faced.
One of the many goals that the Committee set itself this year was to again grow the turnover of the bar by 10%, a goal that was ambitious but which I’m pleased to report has been met. While celebrating this two things should not be forgotten. First the extra workload that this places on our Treasurer, Ross Durham, who once again has risen to the challenge of doing our increasingly complex books. Second, that this goal isn’t an end in itself, but rather a means by which we can ensure other elements of our Club remain pleasant and accessible. For instance our low membership and greens fees, free community bowls on a Thursday, and indeed the fact that beer prices have not risen this year are all underpinned by this rise in turnover.
An inclusive club
One of the other goals that the committee set itself this year, and that was realised thanks to the money we raise over the bar, was improving the facilities for female members. It’s very pleasing to report that we have managed to meet this goal by self-funding works in the women’s bathroom area that mean that showers are now available. Again many thanks to everyone, particularly Marcelle Davis, Malcolm Brewer and Peter Clifford, who worked hard to make this a reality. We were also able to spend more money on improving the outdoor areas of the Club.
Room for improvement
In celebrating the many successes we have had it is also important to acknowledge where we have failed to achieve the goals that we set ourselves. The committee had set a number of targets around membership growth this year especially in regard to Saturday Pennant bowlers. Unfortunately we were unable to meet these goals. While it’s true that this is in the context of Saturday Pennant across Melbourne reducing in popularity we should not dismiss the importance of this goal. If we are to continue to enjoy success on the green, and to remain focussed on the primary purpose of our Club, then we must redouble our efforts in this area next year. It was pleasing to note that with a new method for collecting funds, and a greater focus on remaining in contact with social members that we have been able to almost double the number of social members we have on our books.
We have also had a difficult year with our sponsors, losing the sponsor of our main tournament, the Newmarket Shopping Plaza, after many years. The increasingly strict guidelines from local government around signage around the green have been a large factor in this problem, but we need to remain positive and find creative ways that we can help ourselves. If there are any club members who are not on the committee who would like to help work on improving our sponsorship base it would be greatly appreciated.
Lighting the way!
The other goal which remains a work in progress is the plan to restore lights to the bowling greens. In my opinion this should remain the primary goal of our medium-term planning as the transformative effect it would have on our Club would be incredible. While it would obviously add to our capacity to have functions and grow the club’s financial sustainability, even more importantly it would allow us to genuinely offer a second option for people wishing to play our sport competitively. It would also be a powerful symbol of the Club’s continuing resurgence as we leave behind the days when such infrastructure was allowed to crumble, and enter times when we have the capacity to share the best facilities with our members and wider community.