By Gary Stocks
They say that you can’t move forward, unless you know where you came from.
This weekend North Beach will receive a timely reminder of the genesis of the most successful era in Australian amateur football history when it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the 2001 premiership.
In so many ways that premiership set the club on the path to an amazing run of success. The run of 10 A-grade premierships in the last 12 years actually began two years earlier in 1999, but the 2001 team contains so many prominent figures who remain committed to the club.
Of course senior coach Bill Duckworth is entrenched at the helm and has been an amazing influence on North Beach – an influence that extends beyond his imposing record as an A-Grade coach and into the development of players and coaches from colts level through to lower grade senior teams.
His imprimatur will be there in perpetuity – and he’s not done yet.
While Saturday marks a decade since the 2001 triumph, when the Beach demolished Fremantle CBC 18.10 (118) to 7.11 (53), Duckworth’s energy will be focused on eclipsing CBC so that the current team remains in contention for a top two finish.
He will be going about his business in the same measured way that he has done in his 15 years as senior coach, but he will also enjoy the opportunity to catch up with those who were central to success a decade ago. At his side will stand Mark Kiely, exactly where he was in 2001.
For some it will almost be like a normal Saturday at the club.
People like Michael Pratt, for instance. He was the BJ Giles medallist with a best on ground display 10 years ago, but remains intrinsically involved as A-Reserves coach. Again he has his team ticking along nicely, seeking to plot a successful defence of the flag they won 12 months ago.
Then there is Luke Smith, who will need to wait until he finishes his duties across half-back in the senior game before reminiscing with his 2001 teammates. Smith had tried his hand at WAFL level before discovering North Beach and not only has he played in nine senior premierships, but he has also served several years as club treasurer.
The athletic Simon Pearce is another who will look to steer the A-Grade team to an important win before catching up with those who shared in the ultimate success 10 years ago. Speedy wingman Ben Heap will do likewise.
Brett O’Neill, a devoted servant of the club and current committeeman, will probably lead the charge in the reunion marquee.
Other decorated players in that 2001 combination who are ingrained in the fabric of the club, include Brendan Lynch, a former committee member, life member and Pratt’s able coaching assistant. Scott Holbrook, captain of the reserves premiership team last season, and a North Beach institution.
Greg “Jaffa” Pires returned to the club last year, to play in the reserves premiership, and will play alongside Scott Holbrook and the man they call “The King”, Chris Perkin in the A-Reserves clash. Perkin, of course, has played in all 10 flags since 1999 and is a living treasure.Almost the entire team from 2001 will be on hand to celebrate the occasion, including Nathan Duckworth, Matt Fong, who played in eight premierships and as a major sponsor has been just as significant in an off-field sense, while Chris Gooch, is another recently retired club icon who will be there, along with Steve Sadowski.
As if the day does not carry enough significance, Tom McNeill, who missed the 2001 grand final through injury, will play his 150th game for the club this week.
It surely is going to be a day to remember and will be a living demonstration to the younger generation of what it means to be part of The Beach!
By Gary Stocks