Power in the pas­sion

North Coast Weekender - - Front Page - Justin Bian­chini

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.”

Pic­ture: Belinda Tay­lor

West Perth play­ers run through a ban­ner ded­i­cated to Carol Bick.

Pic­ture: Matt Beilken

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.

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