Ladies and Gentleman, this special presentation is brought to you by the words Life and Sunday and by the numbers 20, 33, 500, 1977 and 1978.
Let's start with Sunday! I first came into soccer in 1987 with the Rovers club.
It was two years after their senior premiership, but all the talk from the experienced backs and midfield (anyone remember Mark Ouvrier, Greg Pomering and the Matulics) was about how to stop the Aztecs and particularly two brothers playing there - they were blindingly fast, highly skilled, very efficient in front of goals and very intelligent footballers. And Rovers should know - they played with Rovers in their inaugural year of 1979 and then 1980-82 inclusive.
Well, stop them we didn't. Though one almost stopped the other with a goal celebration which almost broke his hand, nobody else did either, and Aztecs went on to win the 1987 Senior premiership in just their third year as a Club. And that is pretty much what Sunday has meant for all of us each winter since - soccer (or football for the fancy pants purists among us) and family.
For them, it also usually means takeaway, a family get together and, until recent years, a viewing of the recorded match, usually accompanied by a bunch of the senior players and Committee and a few frothies at John's place, the spiritual home of Aztec soccer (rivaled only by John Parr's bar in Ellswood Cres and Triton and Eddie's bar at training). Nowadays Aztecs and Rovers are called Nichols Point after the 1993 merger, and these legendary get togethers have been scaled down, but I hope one day we can restart things like this as our Club culture misses them sorely.
And so to 20 and 33. 20 is the number of years the boys have been with the Pointers after stints with United, City and Zagreb (now the Knights). Though both started in goals (the elder winning the gong as best 'keeper in his first U16 season), the more ‘experienced’ among us will remember one brother as a firebrand forward and striker, with sublime skills in ball control at speed and a reliable finish. The other we all know can score but is best remembered in the early years as a mid fielder and winger with dazzling ball skills and just about the lowest centre of gravity in the business - he is one of the hardest players to knock off the ball in Sunraysia. In more recent years, one has become the midfield playmaker, swapping speed for strategy but still with all the skills, while the other is a rock in defence, keeping players many years his junior quiet and still hypnotizing all with the ball.
33 is how long one brother has been playing (missing very few games), which is why 1977's important - that's when he started. The younger brother followed in 1978, and other than a two year hiatus due to injury, he has also played most games.
Which brings us to the number 500 - that is a conservative estimate of how many games the older brother has played. I actually think it would be closer to 600 with Cup matches, interleague, repeat appearances in Ressies then Seniors and so on. And I reckon almost 400 for the Pointers would be close to the mark, almost every one of them watched by John, a life member of both this Club and the FFS (now FFV).
You can always rely on either brother to fill in with any side in any position the coach needs.
These playing credentials alone would justify this special award, but both have delivered in so many other ways. Fruit picking fundraisers, working bees, assistant coaching with the Senior Women's, junior and sub-junior sides, decorated careers in Refereeing, managing the Club website, media liaison, providing footage for our milestone celebrations some years ago - the list goes on and on. That is the nature of community clubs like ours. We are a bit like the Borg in Star Trek - you will be assimilated, resistance is futile. But let's not talk about the AGM just now!
Well, that just leaves the word Life to consider. These two, their parents and now their children too are key stitches in the tapestry of life that has become Nichols Point Soccer Club. They have made a lifelong commitment to soccer and to their Club. Their name is synonymous with the life of soccer in the wider Sunraysia community, and this seems set to continue.
In a recent newspaper article, one brother said “I don't think I'll hang up the boots until either my body gives out or my Club asks me to leave”.
Well, that won't be happening any time soon, Roger. Ladies and Gentlemen, could you join me in thunderous applause as we welcome Nichols Point's two newest Life Members, Shane and Roger Burrows!
Unfortunately Roger could not be here tonight (a commitment made some time ago), but we will make arrangements for his award to be presented at a function to open the 2011 season.