Davies steered league into strong position
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.