Davies steered league into strong po­si­tion

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT -

WHEN cir­cum­stance saw fit to ap­point John Davies pres­i­dent of the WA Am­a­teur Foot­ball League in 1996 the com­pe­ti­tion con­sisted of 38 clubs and there was not enough money to pay staff for an­nual leave.

Two decades later, the league boasts 68 clubs, more than 240 teams and a healthy bank bal­ance in ex­cess of $2 mil­lion.

Davies be­gan his in­volve­ment in am­a­teur foot­ball in 1964 as a foun­da­tion mem­ber of the North Beach Am­a­teur Foot­ball Club, where he played 216 games.

“There was a gen­tle­man named Her­bert Grosvenor who en­cour­aged me to run for the WAAFL board,” Davies said.

“I’m not sure what he saw in me to be hon­est but I got on that board in 1976 and then be­came vice-pres­i­dent in 1995.

“Within six months I was pres­i­dent be­cause the pre­vi­ous one, Don Baker, de­cided to re­tire.

“It was just chance re­ally, I guess it was the right time.”

Davies in­her­ited a board com­prised of “am­a­teur play­ers, un­em­ployed peo­ple and truck driv­ers” and promptly set to work se­cur­ing the league’s fi­nan­cial fu­ture.

“It was a to­tally dif­fer­ent time back then, we had no pro­fes­sional le­gal or fi­nan­cial ex­perts and there wasn’t a great em­pha­sis on money man­age­ment or sup­port­ing the clubs, some of which were re­ally strug­gling,” he said.

“Clubs used to have to pay their fees in three in­stal­ments which we changed to four spread through­out the year.

“We also en­cour­aged clubs to col­lect some of their fees dur­ing pre-sea­son, be­cause many play­ers would knick off be­fore the ac­tual sea­son started with­out pay­ing any­thing. That im­proved things dra­mat­i­cally.”

Ron Web­ster was ap­pointed gen­eral man­ager in 2002 and his busi­ness savvy soon had more money, in the form of spon­sor­ships, flow­ing into the league.

“Ron was a pure busi­ness­man with con­tacts in all sorts of sec­tors all over Perth,” Davies said.

“Be­fore he came on­board we con­sid­ered $500 a fan­tas­tic spon­sor­ship but he was push­ing for $100,000 a pop.”

Davies over­saw the adop­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive in­sur­ance scheme for play­ers, um­pires, coaches and com­mit­tee mem­bers and the tran­si­tion to dig­i­tal record keep­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We wanted to make clubs eas­ier to run so we in­tro­duced one­line player reg­is­tra­tion and pro­vided ev­ery club with a free iPad to as­sist with ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties,” he said.

“We brought in a de­fined pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion sys­tem which gave clubs more cer­tainty.

“Pre­vi­ous to that it was done on an ad hoc ba­sis, with clubs oc­ca­sion­ally fin­ish­ing on the bot­tom of the lad­der and stay­ing in AGrade just be­cause they said they wanted to – it was very messy.”

Es­tab­lished in 2009, Davies con­sid­ers the suc­cess of the eight­team In­te­grated Foot­ball pro­gram for play­ers with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties a proud achieve­ment.

Look­ing back on his 20 years at the top, Davies said he would miss the ca­ma­raderie of the po­si­tion and had grown a life long ad­mi­ra­tion for vol­un­teers of any kind.

“I spent a lot of my time at clubs all over Perth meet­ing the peo­ple who are the back­bone of this league,” he said.

“I truly be­lieve that with­out sport­ing clubs we’d have an­ar­chy in our com­mu­ni­ties and so many of those clubs are run by long-time vol­un­teers who will do just about any­thing to help them sur­vive.”

Davies will spend his new found free time trav­el­ling and com­plet­ing a his­tory of the WAAFL hope­fully in time to co­in­cide with the league’s 100th an­niver­sary in 2021.

John Davies is able to look back with pride on his two decades at the helm of the WA Am­a­teur Foot­ball League.

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