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Letter to members: the year that was

President's Address: The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC spoke to the attendees at the 2018 Annual General Meeting held at the Hawthorn Arts Centre on Tuesday night.

President Jeff Kennett has penned the following letter to members.

‘Tis the season to be jolly……

As we enter the Christmas period, we at Hawthorn have a lot to be grateful for as we finish the year.

All our competing teams did well, resulting in three premierships from five teams.

The totality of the Hawthorn Football Club is in a much stronger place than a year ago, with much to look forward to in 2019.

Our administration under our CEO of one year, Justin Reeves, is in good shape, with a few comings and goings.

That is always the case in any organisation.

So too is the fact for our football department. We signed our senior coach, Alastair Clarkson, for another three years, ensuring he continues to lead us until 2022. That is a sign of stability at its best, with Alastair refreshed and ready for the challenge next year.

Sam Mitchell, captain of our 2008 premiership team, has returned to the club to take up a coaching role, having played and coached at the West Coast Eagles, including being an assistant coach of their premiership team this year.

On the other side of the coin we saw David Rath, Head of Football Strategy and Innovation, leave the club and join AFL headquarters, and Andrew “Jack” Russell our Director of High Performance, joined Carlton in a similar position. Both David and Jack were instrumental parts of our support team for the last 14 years.

While we will miss them, their departure gives others the opportunity to step up, having been well trained to do so. It is part of the evolution of our club, which says if you stand still others overtake you!

Over the years, several of our coaching staff have left the club to be appointed as senior coaches in the AFL. In fact, the coaches of the last four premiership cups have all spent time at Hawthorn, and we have seeded six coaches of the league's 18 clubs.

We have also seen several administrators join other sporting bodies of AFL clubs in senior positions.

No club can match Hawthorn's record of training leaders for the code. It is something which our Board feels particularly proud of. There is no greater compliment than peer approval, and when they look to Hawthorn for their leaders, you know our training, performance and governance is of the highest standard.

In the same way that the Board decided to change our constitution at the AGM to give it greater discretion in appointing life members. In the past it was mainly awarded to footballers and Board members. That was wrong.

We want to have the ability to appoint people worthy of such recognition and service to the club.

So, this year we appointed Alastair Clarkson, Andrew Lambart, Jack Russell and David Rath as life members. As I said above, each played a valuable role in our four premierships since 2018.

What is more important, is even though Jack and David left the club this year, we still recognised their contribution. That is a sign of the family club at its best. Not only do we support their new challenges, but we are big enough to recognise their contribution to the club.

Jason Burt has also just notified the club that he is moving on to new challenges. Jason has played an important role in helping our players adjust to football life, while preparing for their future. Jason is a class act as an individual and we will miss him but wish him well.

The club has recruited well, but the final test will be how each of those recruits develop into the fighting machine we expect of our team, and how they perform on and off the field. For both aspects are important at Hawthorn.

Next year we expect to see a continuation of the development at the Kennedy Community Centre as we hope to start building, all planning approvals granted, in 2020. We still hope to complete the new facility by 2022/2023.

As you will have seen from the media, Tasmania remains an important part of Hawthorn’s life. The CEO of the AFL told the CEO’s conference he is not happy with the model in Tasmania, that is North Melbourne and Hawthorn both playing four premiership games in Tasmania.

He has also said the Tasmanian Government is not happy with the current arrangement. I do not believe that is the case. Unfortunately, the AFL continue to penalise Hawthorn for being a good corporate citizen in Tassie for over 12 years.

For a Tasmanian team to enter the elite competition, the relevant stakeholders will need put up the required substantial financial resources for the next twenty years.

All that aside, we at Hawthorn remain focused.

One of our Directors, Linda Kristjanson, who has led our People and Culture Committee stood down at our club’s AGM. Linda has a very senior role in education being the Vice Chancellor of Swinburne University, a role that sees her constantly travelling. While Linda has met all her obligations and more at Hawthorn, she is fearful that her responsibilities next year will reduce her ability to attend to all her responsibilities at Hawthorn as professionally as she would wish.

We thank Linda for her contribution and will miss her presence, but I am sure she will remain a regular among the Hawthorn family.

As a couple more Directors complete their terms in 2019 the Board will be considering new appointments next year.

So, to our staff, all employees, to my fellow Directors, our sponsors, but most importantly to our members, thank you all for your support and efforts in 2018.

It has been a very satisfactory year. One we will build on as we enter 2019.

So, a happy festive season to all. Have a safe break and come back in the mood for activity, fun and success. 

Cheers

Jeff Kennett

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs