The Avalon Bulldogs Junior Rugby League Football Club has had a sterling season.
2016 opened with a pre-season Hybrid match, which they won, included a Development Squad match with the 17’s of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles taking on their Western Tiger counterparts and triumphing, and closed with their first-ever A Grade Division 1 Premiership along with the Under 17’s taking out their fourth Premiership in a row.
Avalon Bulldogs A Grade. Div. 1 Premiership Winners 2016 – photo by Bernadette Johnson McAlinden.
Even the juniors were getting in on the act yesterday, September 10th, with the 9’s taking out their Grand Final.
Avalon Bulldogs Under 17’s Premiership Winners 2016 – photo by Nikki Wheeler
Throughout the Season, whether just watching the littlies having a great time, or witnessing the older grades conduct themselves like true gentlemen on and off the field, you know something is going right at this club. If you ask anyone who attends the games, men and women the BBQ or kiosk, sets up and then closes up, volunteers as a Ground official or runs drinks to the players on the field, coaches the juniors or seniors, and some of the seniors are coaching the juniors (Aaron Groom and Jett Hobbs as just two examples), it’s a Family, one that’s inclusive, one that’s open to all, one that is focussed on not just on giving skills in how to play rugby well but sharing skills that will equip their players to do well in life by being people who give back, who care about others.
When the teams are playing at home, the ‘Doggie Dome’ to many, those gatherings are very like a family with everyone from the knee-high to the elders, and even the dogs, lining the sides of the ground at Hitchcock Park. Rival team’s supporters may call ‘witticisms’ to each other but then they’re all laughing at each other and laughing together – the Family is easily extended, and clearly includes all of us, all of the time.
The respect the club and its players are held in by their fellow rival club members shows in congratulations coming from Forestville this week on their A Grade win, the team that played them in the semi-finals on the last Sunday in Winter for the Grand Final spot, and in Narraweena, the team narrowly overcome for the Premiership, dropping in to congratulate them on Monday, September 5th at the Doggie Dome. Both Grand Final teams were celebrating their season, and then they were celebrating together – this is what the game and its unmovable core of real sportsmanship are about.
At the close of Season this year a few people who have contributed much are stepping down from the positions they’ve held for the last half-decade or so, including President Michael Birtwhistle, Registrar Lisa Matthews, Secretary Samantha Baum, and Director of Coaching Gaven Sheehan. Mr. Birtwhistle’s partner Donna Groom, a lady who has done so much for the club and every player has received high praise from many for years.
In A Grade some players are retiring while others from the 19’s are stepping up to the mark after this glorious year. Others will keep going – Nikki Wheeler, Brian Friend and a few other of the Friend family, Paul Collins, the whole of the Johnson family as coaches or supporters or sponsors – the list is very very long and could easily include half of Avalon, Palm Beach, Clareville and Bilgola itself as those doing the work or those cheering them on, in fact, it probably does.
The club is rich in inspiring and excellent role models who have limitless energy and patience they willingly invest into these boys week in week out, through the Winter, and then again during Summer Touch Football sessions, some of them for many decades.