At the Yass Redbacks' recent presentation evening, three of the club's longest-serving members were awarded Honorary Life Membership.
All three of the awardees were integral in establishing Yass FC, in providing the foundations, helping the club to grow and prosper to become the relevant sporting club as it stands today in the wider community.
These were awarded by the Yass Football Club original president Andy Jewell who travelled back to Yass from Melbourne in order to present these awards.
One of the attributes the club seeks in the recipient is "must display a commitment to the principals of good sportsmanship" And this he did in every aspect of his involvement with the club, not only in the roles he held but also on the field.
Described as a gentleman - polite, courteous and honest - Mark was one of the original group members that put together the 'summer outdoor football' that lead to the Redbacks Football Club.
It was through Mark's connection with the football fraternity, especially Belnorth Soccer Club, that he helped the establishment of the local Yass competition.
Mark was the inaugural club vice president and referee co-ordinator. He organised referee training, courses and ensured that each game had a referee week in week out. He fulfilled this role for four years. He also secured much needed sponsorship and donations in those early years.
Mark's involvement with the club did not cease in 2006. As he did in those early days, Mark has no hesitation to referee a game, and still does 17 years later.
Another attribute the club seeks in this award is: "must display a general attitude and overall character to ensure that the attitude is one that reflects a dedication to the values of the club"
Warren was integral in sparking the idea of establishing a local football competition, up to that point the only option was a junior five-per-side competition played at the basketball stadium, two games, each played on half a court.
Warren and Sue opened their home weekly, to a group of people that turned the idea into a reality, and over 230 children registered for the first summer comp.
Through Warren's dedication, along with others, the summer comp grew to over 400 children. As the local interest grew, there was a stronger need to join a formal comp.
It was Warren that sourced and established contact with affiliations so the Yass Redbacks could participate. It was at first with the Goulburn competition but after one season it was evident the Yass Redbacks needed to be part of a larger competition.
So Warren approached Capital Football which the Yass Football Club remains affiliated to this day.
Warren took up the role as treasurer in 2002 as part of the inaugural committee, which was a position he held for five years.
During his tenure, as the club flourished Warren ensured it remained financially viable and investing strongly back into the teams for the benefit of the kids and wider community.
Warren would work very quietly and diligently behind the scenes. Often he accomplished the little things which people took for granted, such as ensuring the 'mobile' canteen was stocked with drinks (there was no canteen in the early days), helping to mark the fields at the beginning of the season, packing up the fields on those summer evenings, seek funding and donations, entering Redback teams into the Cowra Cup.
Others included being part of the committee and driving force to establish shelters on level three and representing the club on the Yass Valley Council Sports Committee and Walker Park joint users committee.
Even though Warren is no longer officially actively involved with club, his support and dedication can still be seen at the beginning of the winter season marking out the fields and attending Saturday games, often helping to pack up the field.
A gentleman like the other two but someone who can, and still does, play football to a high standard. There is little doubt that this person encapsulates all the following attributes that the club seeks for this award:
- must display leadership and role modelling that reflects credit upon the club
- must have represented the Yass Football Club as an administrator, coach, manager, player or other support role
His 17 year contribution to the club in a range of roles is truly commendable. As part of the committee, Grant has held the position of Club President, Secretary and Treasurer.
It was under his stewardship the club expanded significantly not only in summer football, but the winter comp with a growing number of junior teams, the number of men's teams and the formation of the women's team which he was very supportive, well before it became an ethos in today's professional football and other sporting codes.
He played a critical role in the construction and completion of the amenities building that now stands between level two and three. His greatest enjoyment is playing the game.
He returned to the field so that he could play a season or two with his son Daniel, and that was about 10 years ago. Daniel moved on - many years ago, and Grant still hasn't.
He has played for the men's side in 227 games, scored occasional (13) goals, made four grandfinals and won four premierships.
What many don't realise, over these years of playing, most of the other players are 15 to 20 years to his junior. Yet Grant still has the skill, tenacity and athleticism to play at a high level. (Teammates say they have been covering him for years).
Grant is always willing to share his knowledge and skills with others. Whether this be coaching the junior teams, coaching the Yass High School team, and as he has done for numerous season's, the men's teams.
Grant started coaching the Under 14s in 2004 in the Goulburn competition.
He would go on to manage that team up to Under 18s division. From that U14s side, many would go onto to play for the women's and men's team in their later years.
This included the likes of Ryan Betts and Andrew McLean, who still play today for the Men's Redbacks.
As manager and coach for the men's team, he would develop other players into leaders.
This might be the player taking on the role of team captain, assist with coaching and team selection. This has included the likes of Cam Betts, Ryan Wing, James Alley, Mitch and Brett Darmody. Grant was always encouraging and supportive.
Team spirit is a key element in any successful team, on the pitch or off, and so it was with feigned reluctance that Grant would find himself championing events such as Players' Player, drinks at the 'sponsoring' local pub after the home game, BBQs at his place, dinner and drinks at the local pub after an away game, and the end-of-season golf days.
As any strong leader, Grant's leadership is respected, whether within the club, as a coach, as a player or as a club representative to the wider community.