Dear Members and supporters,
I wanted to write a message of thanks on behalf of the Club for the tremendous support you have all provided this season and in particular those Members and supporters who travelled to Melbourne for our elimination final.
Whilst it wasn’t the result we wanted to end our year on, it is important to acknowledge that 2019 has been a good very year for our Club both on and off the field. I wanted to make a brief mention of some of those areas where we have excelled:
The outcomes achieved by our footballing program deserve special mention with the key achievements being:
- A top five finish and first finals win for our NRL team in 10 years.
- A Canterbury Cup grand final appearance for our 2nd grade team.
- Strong results across all our elite pathway teams.
- Enhanced contributions from our Eels developed players.
- The retention and recruitment of key players for 2020 and a salary cap position that provides strong flexibility for the coming years.
A number of recommendations from our Football Review have contributed to our progression in 2019 and as Club we can be pleased with the way that we addressed and harnessed that period of review so positively.
However, we are well aware that this is only the beginning in our football transformation and we must remain focused and vigilant to ensure we achieve our strategic objective of sustained success and regular finals football. I am sure this will be the driver for our players and coaches when they return for preseason later this year.
I would like to make special mention of Manu Ma’u and Tepai Meora who will be leaving our playing ranks this year. They have both made a wonderful contribution to our Club and we wish them well as they move to the next stages of their playing careers.
I would also like to call out Tim Mannah who has been an incredible servant of our Football Club since the day he joined our Harold Mathews squad. He has been central to our Club both on and off the field during this time and on behalf of everyone, I want to thank Tim and the wider Mannah family for what they have contributed to the Eels throughout his playing career.
Reconnection with our Members and fans
As an organisation, the most pleasing part of this year has been the reconnection of our Club with its Members and supporters which has been underwritten by the return to Bankwest Stadium.
This has been the catalyst for a number of key outcomes for the Club including:
- Our Membership record being broken for the 7th straight year.
- Recording the highest average crowd for a Sydney NRL Club and the second highest average crowd for all major sporting clubs in Sydney.
- Setting the ground record for Bankwest Stadium twice in the space of six months.
- Achieving record revenue growth in Corporate hospitality sales.
I am sure that like me, many Members and supporters have a number of long, lasting memories from this year which started with the opening of the stadium on Easter Monday and ending with that tremendous atmosphere for our finals win against Brisbane. Ensuring that the game day experience at Bankwest Stadium is the best in Australian sport and that we continue to replicate and even enhance on those memories will be central to our objectives in 2020.
Farewell to Bernie Gurr
As he concludes his time with us next month, I want to acknowledge the tremendous contribution Bernie Gurr has made to our Club. When Bernie joined the Eels in October 2016 there were numerous challenges and issues to resolve across a broad range of areas. He worked extremely hard to bring stability back to our Club and rebuild trust with Members and supporters.
This contribution was not only vital to achieving the platform we have today but I am sure will be viewed even more favourably as we head towards a period of growth for our Club. We wish him and his wife Peggy well for the future and assure them that they will always be welcome as part of the Eels family.
I would like to conclude by reiterating how important your support is to our Club. We have an incredible opportunity to grow our Club across all aspects of the organisation in this next 12 to 18 months.
The opening of our new facility at Kellyville Park in December, the continued focus on being a development club, our target of having 40,000 Members by the end of 2021 and the implementation of our strategic plan are all positive initiatives for our organisation going into 2020. I am confident that these strategic objectives can be achieved as we continue to build a high performance and values based organisation.
Thank you again for 2019 and we look forward to a positive 2020.
Parramatta Eels Club Chairman