St Clair Comets club history
St Clair first played in the 1984 season, when did the idea for a new club happen and how much work was involved in getting the club started and who else was involved?
The idea for the formation was early in 1983 at the Colyton pub. Ron Clements and myself were both committee members with Colyton and their meetings were supposed to be held at the pub on a monthly basis. After going to our third meeting which was cancelled for a third time we were having a beer with the rest of the committee whom turned up, I was peed off and I just muttered we should form our own club and left it at that.
We finished our beers and went home. Next morning out of the blue I received a phone call from Ron Clements and he said Mike were you serious? I said serious about what? He said about starting a new footy club? I thought for a moment and the said what the heck WHY NOT. So a NEW CLUB was about to be born. That evening we had a meeting with Ron and his wife Josie and myself and wife Lynne to discuss what our next move was going to be ( as none of us had a clue what to do). Next day we contacted the Junior League to get info and what to do next. I put money in to buy stationery, postage, photocopying etc.
We made flyers and started a letterbox drive publicising that we were trying to form a new club and held a public meeting. From that meeting we developed submissions to put to the Junior League AGM for acceptance as a new club. Keith Casey, was the one that really got us going and motivated to succeed. We got permission to form the Club at the 1983 AGM of the Junior League. The club was formed in September 1983 and our first meeting was held in November 83 to elect officers to form our first ever committee.
The committee consisted of the following President – Keith Casey, Vice President- Ron Clements, Secretary – Peter North, Treasurer – Michael Zammit and Assistant Secretary – Gai Casey. The General Committee elected were Registrar Len Montgomery, Equipment Officer Lynne Zammit, Social Secretary Josie Clements, Groundsman Alan Mills, Canteen Supervisor Fran Montomery and Publicity Officer Michael Zammit.
Throughout that season we had some resignations on the committee due to personal reasons on the executive with the following replacements; firstly Ron Clements replaced Peter North as Secretary and Ray Dowse became Vice President. Then both Keith and Gai Casey resigned which saw Ray Dowse elevated to President, Dave Brown the new Vice President and Gail Barnard the new Assistant Secretary.
In our 1st year we had 7 teams from u/7s to u / 14s with 3 teams making the grand final with 2 premiers and 1 finishing runners up.
We first entered Sunday football in 1988, fielding 3 sides being under 15, 16 and 17.
How did the people from Colyton take the news of a new neighbour moving in on their turf?
Not very kindly at all, we were branded traitors, not knowing what we were doing, the area wasn’t big enough for 2 clubs and we would fold within a couple of seasons.
Prior to the arrival of St Clair, Colyton was know as COLYTON COLTS but when they got wind of a new club forming they changed their name to COLYTON/ST CLAIR Colts to try and stop the new formation. When we first applied to Junior League to be accepted we were knocked back because Colyton argued that the name was too similar to that of Colyton/ St Clair. The only way we would be accepted into the league was if we changed our name. We had talks and we then decided to call ourselves WEST ST.CLAIR” which was accepted by the Junior League but still disputed by Colyton.
How much did it cost to run St Clair for a season back then and where did the funding come from?
At inaugural AGM we had not a cent to our name except for the remainder of the money I put into the kitty to start the club, but once the AGM was over the dedication of our hard working helpers kicked in. Every Thursday night and Saturday morning during the off season we held raffles at the OLD St Clair Shopping Centre (The outdoor centre before Woolworths.). We raffled anything from meat trays, twin packs of frozen chickens, lucky envelopes ( anything you could make a dollar on we raffled ). Our biggest problem there was not trying to sell tickets but it was the bullying tactics from Colyton whom decided to also do raffles there once they found out what we were doing, but that didn’t deter us only made us more eager to succeed. Our funds began to swell and everything started to fall into place and all the hard work began to pay off. Then we started to look for sponsors to help cover cost of jerseys. The 7 teams we fielded were all sponsored which help enormously. When the season started income came in through canteen takings, raffles, nights out, Walkathon, Car Rally, Cake Stall and anything we could make money on. In the end we had a very successful financial season for our first year. Remembering that we basically had nothing in Nov 83, we had a total income $17,281 with expenditure of $15784 (which included $3000 in a term deposit)
Where did St Clair play home games in the first few seasons?
Our first temporary home ground was at Sheperd Park Colyton. We were then given fields at Ropes Creek Park Old Mt Druitt to use. We were allocated Solander Oval by Penrith Junior League to use for both training and playing but council would not make into footy fields due to it being a flood basin. Eventually we were then allocated new fields which still had to be built at Foxdale. There was a name change from Foxdale to Erskine Park (where our current fields stand today) as there still was no grounds available in St Clair.
27 years on and St Clair have the maximum allowed 45 teams while Colyton has only 22 what factors do you think drove our large growth?
Firstly it disproves Colyton’s theory that the area was not big enough for 2 clubs to exist because as the years go on both Colyton and St Clair go from strength to strength and realistically we both need each other.
I believe that if the club wasn’t restricted to 45 teams we would have in excess of 50 teams, It is a shame that we at times can’t accommodate all players that want to play for us due to the restrictions placed on us, because one of our mission statements from day one was that we would never turn away players whom wanted to play for us..
I think our large growth over the years has been to the young families in the area ( with young families moving in all the time – our younger sides team numbers are going up all the time ).
The running / management of the club which has been first class since the formation of the club has to be a big plus.
What is your best memory from your involvement in the club?
There are many memories that come flooding back but to see something grow from absolutely nothing to what it is today is just overwhelming, to go to Peppertree on Saturday Presentation and to see those sea of faces of players collecting their trophies and having a great time its just fantastic. To see our players come through the grades and go on to play NRL and beyond – just magic. But to sit back now 27 years on and reflect, while one of our aims at the beginning was to give the youth of St Clair something to do (rather than vandalise) it is great to see the tradition continue and the building of a better community is the result. As our club Jacket states St Clair JRLC and Proud, I am PROUD to be a part of St.Clair.Taken from an interview by Paul Wray with Foundation Life Member Michael Zammit in 2010