By Gary Stocks
North Beach Football Club has a strong connection to its rich past and an initiative which will be implemented on Saturday should ensure it continues for a long time into the future.
Greg “Jaffa” Pires, a member of the club’s 2002 A-Grade premiership team, has been the driving force behind a concept that will see the players from the successful team 10 years ago presenting a jumper to the current players.
Pires was playing at Palm Beach in Queensland when something similar happened and it proved to be a strong bonding tool between the past and present.
“I played at Palm Beach in 2009 when the 1999 premiership team had a reunion,” Pires said. “The past players each bought a jumper for the players of the day to wear with the names of the premiership team written on the front.
“I thought that was a great idea and saw first hand how it brought two teams from different generations together, so I worked on getting that happening at North Beach.
“Each of the past players, who will be there for the 2002 reunion, bought a jumper which will be presented to the current players just as they start to prepare for Saturday’s game against North Fremantle.
“It will help to create the link between the past and the present and this is a big game against North Fremantle so it might even created that little extra spark to get us over the line.”
Not only did Pires play in that 2002 A-Grade premiership, but he also coached the North Beach colts on that when they lost the grand final to University and several of those players, including Josh McGinnity, Tim Bowdell and Reece Cunningham remain involved at the club.
Saturday at Charles Riley Reserve is a big day for the club because it is also Gary Tait Day, an annual event that recognises one of the club’s great servants who was cut down in his prime.
Tait, who joined the Beach after a WAFL career with Claremont, was involved at a time far removed from the club of today. Struggling for on-field numbers and off-field support, the North Beach was teetering before Tait, in typical fashion, put his shoulder to the wheel and reinvigorated the ailing club.
Such was his drive and enthusiasm he turned things quickly and managed to play in three premierships himself.
Tragically, when holidaying in Hong Kong, Tait was king hit outside a hotel in 1997 and never regained consciousness after hitting his head on the ground. But his involvement with North Beach will never be forgotten and after the clash with North Fremantle the Gary Tait Medal will be presented to the North Beach player who best represents, through his on-field exploits, the passion, desire and skill of a revered club mate.
His famous No.15 jumper is framed and hangs on the southern wall of the clubrooms.
By Gary Stocks