2020 Year Book

Well that was weird. The Glebe committee met in February for the long preseason meeting, a packed agenda with the big issues for the season such as registrations and equipment and sausage girth. It was at this meeting Kirsty raised the issue of COVID-19, what she was hearing from her work and what it would likely mean for us. Queue scoffing around the table, accusations of doomsaying and how it was an overreaction…

On Friday 13th March 35 coaches gathered at the Greyhounds clubhouse for the annual preseason meeting, our 40th anniversary season no less, then by Monday I was emailing the club to let everyone know the season was off. That email was a tough one to send, partly because it meant there would be no footy, but also because Kirsty was right. It provoked a lot of “conversation” around as to the quality of the decision, but what we all thought didn’t matter, it was out of our hands, and until further notice there would be no footy.

What happened after that was nothing short of incredible. With strict rules surrounding what and where and how many, coaches started finding creative ways for the players to keep their footy heads on, hopeful the season would be back in some form. There were marking videos from the U11s, zoom fitness from the U16YG, skills tutorials from Chris Barnes, the U14s were doing Sunday morning bay runs and meeting in parks across the inner west in pairs for zoom kicking sessions. Amazing.

The committee had switched to online meetings as we tried to make sense of what was happening. So much planning out the window, so much uncertainty about what the season would hold. When we did finally get the go ahead to start training it required something akin to a military operation with rosters and gates and signs and sanitiser (so much sanitiser) for hands and balls, and all of it in groups of 10. Including the coach! Still, at least we had a roadmap to get back to playing footy. In Victoria everything was shut down, something that has never happened before.

With a new, nine week draw in our hands and a song in our hearts, we were going to get a season of some kind. Hopefully. Maybe. Everything was dependent on everyone doing the right thing, sticking to the rules, a single outbreak of COVID-19 could bring it all crashing down, and worse, what if a member of our Greyhounds family got sick. The stakes were high, but with a lot of work (like seriously, a lot of work) we rallied together to get this thing done. And so on the weekend of 18th and 19th July, the engines of the Glebe Greyhounds rumbled back to life, the huge new marquee marking the launch of the season. A season of pies and sausage rolls instead of bacon and egg rolls, a season of spectators socially distanced on the other side of the fence, a season of no handshakes or team huddles, no singing or high fives. Tackling was fine though.

Then we finally got to welcome Auskick back in Round 5. Up until then it really hadn’t felt like we were back to normal, but once the little kids came back with their massive socks bunched around tiny ankles and the highlight of the day was singing the club song, it felt much more real. Those Auskickers, they are the heart of our club.

So after all that, it was all still a week by week proposition, with presidents around Sydney holding their breath each Thursday for comms from the AFL about not just how we would proceed on the weekend, but if we would. So how did the season finish up? Well, as you no doubt know by now, the main measure of success for our club is retention. Did the players like it enough to come back? Yes they did. Understandably a few dropped out due to COVID-19 and I’m sure we’ll see them back next year, but overwhelmingly, against the odds, almost all our players returned, and from what I saw, had a great season.

As to the other measure of success, the on field stuff? Well, that was also successful. After nine rounds we had 11 teams representing every age group from U11 to U17, girls and boys, Glebe and Alliance make finals, including a full schedule in week one on a pristine Jubilee Oval. Of those teams three made it through to Grand Finals, and while we didn’t bring home the premiership chocolates they all played hard and did the club proud. Well done everyone. So, thank you to all the coaches and managers for your work this year, you have done a lot of heavy lifting to bring the season home and keep us compliant with the rules. To the canteen volunteers, goal umpires, boundary umpires, runners, water carriers, ground managers, first aid officers, photographers, gas bottle fillers and everyone else who helped this year, thank you.

This is an abridged excerpt from the President’s report. For more, and the important coaches’ reports, you’ll need to read the book.

Carna Greyhounds.