The Altona Roosters have faced plenty of challenges over their illustrious 35-year history and the past two Covid disrupted seasons have been no different, with the club having to overcome numerous financial and social obstacles to gear up for what is hoped to be a disruption-free 2022 season.
The Roosters who were founded in 1987 are the second oldest active club in the state and have a rich history having produced plenty of NRL Talent over the years, including former NRL journeyman Jeremy Smith, Storm superstar Gareth Widdop and current Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Based out in Altona Meadows the club has faced several off-field challenges in recent years but continues to make great strides in growing the game with high levels of participation from all age groups ranging from U/6’s to seniors and masters.
Altona Roosters Club President Jackson Brenchley said that as the largest rugby league club in Victoria with now 575 members and over 100 volunteers, the club has learned from past mistakes and is in a great position to move forward heading into the new season.
“We’ve had a checkered past I’d say but we have been quite successful on the field with six Altona juniors going on to play NRL and we are the only club left in the state that’s still running that has won 4 premierships in a row,” Brenchley said.
“From an operational point of view we are now in a good position, we are quite organised going into the year we've had our finances ticked off from an independent auditor and from a participation point of view we are probably going to add two new female teams, so the growth of the club is going to be really good from a participation side of things."
Brenchley said that government grants helped keep the club afloat last year, with wasted canteen stock and the loss of revenue from home games seeing the club record their lowest turnover since 2019.
“In terms of our challenges, this year financially has been our lowest year of financial turnover since 2019, as in 2019 we turned over $180,000 and this year was only $124,000 so Covid has certainly hurt us," he said.
“We lost $6,000 worth of stock in our canteen due to the lockdowns and that was for just the last two home games of the season in the two weeks that was supposed to happen but didn’t before the lockdown.”
The constant stop-start nature of last season was something Brenchley believes made it hard for players, coaches and administrators to gain any momentum throughout the season.
“From a social point of view there were lots of things that didn’t happen like our two last home games and as such a big club that’s a big deal for us as it’s hard to try and get everyone of our teams to play at home throughout the year," the Altona President said.
“I think two of our teams never got to play a home game at all because the games they were scheduled to play at home were cancelled.
“The main thing for us was that we had really good participation from the seniors and U/18’s right up until that first lockdown in 2021 but when we returned we lost about forty players from that 120-player squad, so that made a huge dint and it was hard to get players back going again after such a long break.
“For me personally I was expected to focus on the on-field stuff but have ended up having to do a lot of knowing what our Covid plans are, organising QR codes, cordon off training areas…limiting the number of people per sqm and that’s a lot of work when you have over 480 players to try to find space for them all."
Training is set to resume for senior men and women as well as the U/18 and U/19 boys and girls on Tuesday the 11th at 6pm at AB Shaw Reserve.
For more information or to sign up head to altonaroosters.com.au and click register here.