READ MORE – 2019 HDFNL fixture
WHAT became a 20-year stint as treasurer for the Heathcote District Football-Netball League started out as nothing more for Ged McCormick than an offer to help out for 12 months.
“I got a phone call from Kelvin Hillier, who was the assistant secretary of the league, saying, ‘we’re in a bit of a pickle and we need a treasurer, would you like to do it for 12 months’,” McCormick recalled this week.
“I said I’d give it 12 months and 20 years later...”
That was back in 1998 and for every HDFNL season since McCormick has held the role of league treasurer in a 20-year tenure that officially came to an end at last week’s annual general meeting.
Fittingly, McCormick, 62, was honoured for not only his 20-year commitment at league level with the HDFNL, but also his lengthy involvement at Elmore that stretches back to the 1960s with an AFL Recognition of Service Medal.
“To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult of a job,” McCormick said.
“There wasn’t a lot to do throughout the year other than make sure the clubs were paying their fees and any other payments that needed to come our way were done and that we paid the bills the other way.
“The busiest time was during the finals and grand final day, but I always enjoyed it and met a lot of good people across all the clubs over the years.
“But the time is right now to finish up. The treasurer’s job has changed a lot over the past couple of years since the bulk of it is now done in at the AFLCV Hub in Bendigo by Laura Naughton and I was basically just presenting a report at the meetings and looking after the finals.
“The time has come to let someone else come along and have a go.
“Twenty years as treasurer is a long time in the role, but I was in Apex for 22 years and the sun still came up the next day after I retired from that.”
By his own admission, McCormick – a lifelong St Kilda supporter who was at the MCG in 1966 when the Saints won their one and only flag – says it didn’t take him long as a young fella to realise that helping administer and run the game of football would be more his caper than playing it.
“I played a few games at Elmore in the under-13s when I was nine or 10, then went off to boarding school at St Vincent’s in Bendigo for four years and ran around the footy and soccer field, but it wasn’t really my go.
“I also played a few games in the thirds at Elmore and remember my first game against Rushworth in 1967 when I didn’t even have a pair of footy shorts, only white tennis shorts and we had to swap jumpers with the players who were coming off the ground.”
While McCormick’s football career may have been shortlived, his commitment off-field at both Elmore – starting by volunteering to run the boundary for the thirds in 1967 – and the HDFNL has been enduring.
Whether it be boundary or goal umpiring, serving as president for three years in the ’90s, league delegate, trainer, in charge of sponsorship, sometimes-controversial YABBA scribe or general committee member, McCormick’s contribution to the Bloods off the field has been enormous.
Not even a nasty tractor accident in September of 1979 at Bamawm when he was 23 in which he suffered severe, crushing leg injuries and has since worn calipers on both legs hindered McCormick’s passion for volunteering at Elmore.
“My first memories of the club as a kid are the ground being surrounded by peppercorn trees and a wooden fence all around the oval… it was very picturesque,” McCormick said.
“I’d come to the footy with the old man (Tom) from when I was four or five and I remember at half-time all the blokes would leave, head over to the pubs in their hat, tie and overcoat, have two or three beers and then come back for the second half.
“Like it does for a lot of people, the club means so much to me and the community… footy-netball clubs are the guts of the community that hold it together.
“It’s a place to go and meet people. Nowadays though it is a lot different to what it used to be when I was growing up; back then there were Elmore kids going to probably eight different secondary schools across Bendigo and Rochester and the only time you saw each other was at footy training or on a Saturday.
“Now with social media and such it’s a lot different and I think it’s part of the reason why it’s so hard to get kids to commit to playing sport these days.
“One of the great pleasures over the years has been watching the locals come through from playing in the Runnymeade under-10s through to senior level and I’m now watching the grandkids of some of the blokes I was knocking around drinking beer with at 18.”
Since McCormick’s birth in 1956 Elmore has won four senior flags – 1960, 1963, 1985 and 2007 – but for him, club success isn’t measured purely on the silverware in the trophy cabinet.
I’m now watching the grandkids of some of the blokes I was knocking around drinking beer with at 18Ged McCormick
“Is success winning a flag in the seniors, but your other teams and netballers struggling to win a game?,’ McCormick said.
“To me a successful club is when you have all of your sides doing okay, good membership and good crowds through the gates.
“When I was president for three years in the ’90s we had every football team make a preliminary final, we won a flag in the seconds and also had a couple of runners-up in the seconds and thirds… everyone was up there and to me that was success.”
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