Power in the passion
PASSION for the red and the blue was cited as the “way out” of West Perth’s financial woes ahead of the Falcons’ spirited win over Peel at Joondalup Arena on Saturday.
Adam Bick was speaking at a pre-match luncheon after the club had dedicated the day to his mother, long-time fanatical West Perth supporter Carol Bick who recently died of brain cancer.
“Passion for this club is the way out,” he said. “Only through the passion of supporters, sponsors, administrators and directors will West Perth succeed.
“We need this club to succeed because it has brought joyous memories to all of us and for many of us it is one of the reasons that our lives are so rich as I believe my mother’s was.
“Mum would want a rallying cry to arms to save our club.”
Mr Bick and his sisters Sascha Fletcher and Challis Bick said their family would donate $10,000 to the club, which went into voluntary administration last week with debts of nearly $800,000.
“I would like to take this opportunity to announce that the family will be contributing $10,000,” he said.
“And to (club president) Scott Ballem, it’s because that’s what great supporters do.”
He said his mother was “only 4 foot 11” but West Perth had “lost a giant”.
“The fact all three West Perth teams on Saturday, July 7, wore black armbands in tribute to my mother’s 40 years of service and support to the club speaks volumes of the esteem she was held,” he said. “The fact the club designated Carol’s Day today, July 28, is something the family will always remember.”
CHRIS Keunen has seen a lot of West Perth football as he heads into his 200th game, but there’s never been a situation quite like the current one where the future of the club’s existence is uncertain.
The Falcons’ dire financial trouble, which forced them into voluntary administration with about $800,000 in debts last week, seems like it would be an unavoidable distraction to a team looking to hold onto a top-two spot with WAFL finals approaching.
Media crews hovered around the ground while the players trained on Thursday night as the club held an emergency members’ meeting to outline its desperate position.
But to a seasoned campaigner like Keunen with 199 games to his name, it had not been too difficult to block out the noise.
“It hasn’t really played on us at all… we’ve spoken about bits and pieces,” he said.
“As a group we’ve just tried to stay focused on what we can control and that’s how we play on the field and what we do at training.
“So we leave all the finance stuff in the hands of the board and they’ve let us know in terms of our payments it’s not going to affect us.
“We’re just leaving that in the background and letting our performances do the talking.”
Keunen’s journey to a 200-game career began slowly in 2006 given the Falcons had the AFL talents of Mark Seaby, Quinten Lynch, Kepler Bradley and Robbie Warnock.
Coach Bill Monaghan said he had a “frank” discussion with him when his position in the side was not guaranteed.
“He got shafted a few times… and I said ‘Chris, if you play well, it doesn’t matter who drops back from the AFL side, you’ll hold your spot’ – and that’s what he’s been able to do,” Monaghan said.
“He’s a tall fella, but there’s not much of him and he’s constantly up against big-bodied ruckmen – sometimes two, sometimes three,” he said.
“He does it pretty much solo and has done for 10 years.”
Keunen is enjoying one of his more consistent seasons in recent years after injury interrupted his 2016 and 2017 campaigns. He said his footy was still “just as fun as it was at the start” but the enjoyment had changed from a learning environment to one of teaching the next generation.
The Falcons have this season moulded a significant group of youngsters into a reliable complement to their senior players and it has helped the side to second spot on the ladder as finals near.
There were not many pundits who considered West Perth a chance in 2018, but Keunen said this group of players did not feel too different to the one that won a premiership in 2013.
“The team is obviously not made up of superstars but even 2013 and 2015, we weren’t really a team of super players,” he said.
“We were just a hard honest working group of blokes who followed the structures and did what was needed for the team – I think that’s happening again this year.”
West Perth players run through a banner dedicated to Carol Bick.
Inset: Carol Bick barracking for the Falcons.
Experienced player Chris Keunen (right) says he’s keeping his focus on the game, not on the club’s financial troubles.