President's report 2012/13

The 2012/13 year has on any measure been an outstanding year for our Club. Both on and off the greens we have achieved a number of noteworthy successes of which we should be proud. None of these would have been possible without the hard work of a broad group of volunteers, overseen by a dynamic and diligent committee. While there will always be more to do, I believe that we have finished the year strongly in both a financial and a bowling sense.

Pennant success

It is fantastic to see the many new pennants that now adorn the Club’s walls, but it’s even better to consider the broad range of bowlers in terms of background and experience who participated in winning them. It was great to see so many of our experienced bowlers taking the time to assist the many bowlers who played pennant for the first time this year. Another trend which hopefully will continue in future years is the return of so many former Flem/Ken players to the Club, who bring with them knowledge and ideas to help our Club develop.

There is perhaps no better example of the continuing renaissance of the Club than the efforts of our winter pennant teams. Having never entered the competition before, we entered two teams, winning the Division 2 Pennant and coming runners-up in Division 4. One year later we have doubled the number of teams we have entered, are playing against some of Melbourne’s leading bowls clubs in Division 1, and hopefully will see similarly strong results.

This season also saw Flem/Ken return to night pennant after a long absence. Again we entered two teams and won the pennant in Division 4 and came runners-up in Division 5. These extra opportunities to play our sport competitively are an important part of broadening the appeal of our Club and providing people with an opportunity to participate. A big thanks to Noel for all his work in arranging our involvement in these competitions and to Ray, Peter and Mark for all their work on selecting the teams.

Thanks also to the selectors for summer pennant; Grant, Peter, Ray, John and Mark. It is well known that being a selector is amongst the hardest jobs at a club. Many hours on Friday nights and Saturday mornings were required to ensure that the Club fielded full sides, but of course their achievements went much further than that with all three sides making the finals.  Despite changing the regions in which they played the Division 2 team performed strongly and made the finals for the second year in a row. The Division 6 side went one better and finished runners-up for their Section, importantly winning promotion which was a key goal for the year. Most pleasingly of all the Division 9 side went all the way to win the Sectional flag, which is a huge achievement given that in the previous year we had struggled to field that team at all. In addition to the selectors I would like to particularly thank Ray Fullarton for the many hours that he puts in preparing the club for pennant, and to all those who assist on Saturday mornings to clean, cook and generally get the club ready to host both members and visitors for pennants.

From strength to strength

Off the green the Club has also taken some important steps forward, many of which may have passed unnoticed by members. The Committee had two meetings with our Bowls Australia Club Development Officer Paul Holtschke. From these it became apparent that much of our documentation had become outdated and need to be replaced. Central to this was the development of a new Club constitution, but alongside this new booking policies for the hall and the greens provide clarity for committee when making decisions. Overtime it would be great to see the Club develop more By-Laws particularly around issues such as the consistency of discipline policies and the like. It is disappointing that despite a huge amount of work by Mark and Tiger we have not been able to resolve issues around the Club’s “redline”, the area in which we are licensed to serve alcohol. There can be no great priority for the Club than the resolution of this issue – I’m confident with the new outside assistance the Club has paid for that by next year we will be able to report that the matter is completed.

There has also been a major overhaul of the way the Club organises its finances. The donation of a new computer, and installation of new accountancy software has allowed us to develop clearer and more transparent reports for both the committee and members as to the Club’s financial state. The implementation of EFTPOS facilities and the capacity to pay (and be paid) electronically is also revolutionising the way our accounts are managed. As ever, without the countless hours that Ross puts in as Treasurer the Club would simply cease to function. As the size of the budget has grown so this workload has increased and it’s a credit to him that he carries this burden without any complaint.

Looking forward

Most importantly of all the committee has begun a process for forward budgeting for both minor and major capital expenditure. This practice is vital if the Club is going to be able to save and potentially even borrow for major renovations. This process started this year with the investment of over $10,000 in the new shade area extending from the clubhouse between rinks 1 to 5. Additionally the purchase of the $2000 heart defibrillator is a major investment for the ongoing safety of club members. Along with the work funded by the City of Melbourne to remove the hedges on Racecourse Rd and replace the fences the overall appearance of the Club from outside has been greatly enhanced. Clearly while the installation of new lights and eventually the replacement of the clubhouse remain the long term priorities, in the short term the completion of the shade and beautification surrounding the greens remains a task that must be completed as soon as possible.

Club finances

It is worth briefly reflecting on what has been a strong financial year for the Club, which has allowed us to finish the year with more than $40,000 in the bank, after balances which had dropped perilously low in the preceding year. It’s fantastic that the amount of money raised from memberships has grown by 40%, though it’s worth bearing in mind that the amount raised does not cover the cost of providing the club with basic services like electricity, gas and telephone. The costs of waste and sewerage is greater than that amount again. In this context I want to say thank you to our growing number of generous sponsors. In particular I would like to acknowledge the continuing sponsorship of the Newmarket Tavern, the Bendigo Bank and Le Pine Funerals, as well as our newest sponsor Jellis Craig.  

The other main source of income remains the Club bar, the massive rise in sales underpins the financial security of the Club and allows for most if not all of the self-funded works to take place. While many people contribute to this work I would particularly like to acknowledge those people who give up time week after week to work for the enjoyment of others, Tiger, Ray, Mark, Tracy, Grant, Oliver and Marcelle. But thanks should also go to all Club members who assist with the functions by welcoming visitors, assisting them to learn to bowl, and in cleaning up after. A special thanks to our cleaner Tracy who is often faced with some quite daunting tasks after major functions

Part of the community

I’m particularly conscious that many of the hours that these people have worked have also contributed to fundraising for many outside organisations. As well as local schools, childcare centres and junior sports, we have provided our facilities free of charge to a number of charities, and of course raised over $500 for the Royal Childrens Hospital on Good Friday. Aligned with this is also the work we are doing with the local social enterprise STREAT. While these nights have benefited the Club by bringing many new locals in to try our sport, they are also an important opportunity for the Club to give something back to the community as the money STREAT makes from these nights goes to train young homeless people in the hospitality industry. A big thanks not only to those who worked the bar, but also to everyone else who helped out by greeting visitors on those nights, teaching them to bowl and helping to clean up afterwards.

Last but not least I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the growing number of social activities which have taken place around the Club. In particular the Social Committee; Krissi, Tracy, Grant, Jacqui and Kenny for their proactive creation of many fun new events for the enjoyment of members and guests. But also to everyone else who has made an effort to welcome new members and contribute to the life of the Club. It is ultimately only by introducing and supporting new members in the Club that we can continue to build on the successes that we have achieved in the past year.

Davydd Griffiths
May 2013