What has Michael been cooking up?

Simon Keller

My AGM story begins at 5.30 on a Wednesday evening, when I meet Stephen Day for a pre-meeting run. Winding through Northland and Wadestown, we discuss the state of the club and the season ahead. I learn that the captaincy roles are close to finalised, with Emma Sturmfels taking over from Danielle Trewoon as women’s senior captain and Hinano Andrews taking on the women’s 35-49s.

Stephen also reports that Bert Prendergast is replacing Ben Twyman as men’s senior captain, followed by a brief tutorial on how to tell them apart. 

We finish our run and judge that we have just enough to drop into the Sprig and Fern. Twenty minutes later, full of beer and curly fries, we don our masks and climb the stairs to the top floor of the cricket pavilion at Anderson Park, where, right on 7pm, the action has begun to unfold.

Even under the pall of rising Covid numbers, and even though it is an AGM, the turnout in the room is good, with still more club members joining us on Zoom. President Michael Wray sits with Sharon Wray at the front, managing the virtual attendees and pushing us through the agenda. A representative selection of club members is spread around the room, offering up grunts of appreciation and interjections of varying quality as Michael and treasurer Marshall Clark report on the year just past.

The year’s membership numbers, Michael reports, were strong, though slightly down on 2020; he is especially pleased to see the growing numbers in the women’s senior section. The club has faced a series of operational challenges as the Covid levels have changed, but members have been enthusiastic and resourceful in finding ways to keep running and competing whenever they can.

Marshall presents the club accounts. The club sustained an operating loss in the last financial year, due to the loss of income from the cancelled Waterfront 5k series and higher than usual maintenance expenses on the clubhouse. But it remains financially strong, with significant reserves, and has also received a generous bequest from the estate of Peter Tearle, the much-loved long-time club member who died last year. A privilege and challenge for the next committee will be to decide how that bequest should be spent.

The outgoing committee offers life membership to my running companion and co-editor Stephen Day, an offer that Stephen graciously declines. My journalistic impulses aroused, I quietly pepper Stephen with questions. Is he really going to turn down life membership? (Yes.) Would he also turn down a knighthood? (Definitely.) Would he accept life membership if it came with a $100 pressie card? (No.) What if it came with a billion dollars to donate to the charity of his choice? (Silence.)

And so the old committee finishes its work and we begin the task of appointing the next one. To the acclaim of the room, Michael agrees to take on another year as president, while making it clear that he would like to pass the role to someone else soon, and Marshall accepts a nomination to continue as treasurer.

For the first time in my memory, the club has a surplus of nominees for the general committee positions: twelve candidates for eight places. A brief discussion establishes that nobody is in the mood for a vote, all agreeing that for this year, at least, none of the candidates should be excluded. But the constitution allows only for eight general committee members! What should we do?

The same thing as always: ask the Wrays. Michael and Sharon present a suspiciously elegant plan for involving all nominees in the club’s administration. 

The eight committee positions go to Ben Bielski, Lucy Fauth, Malcolm Kerr, Scott Ryland, Hayden Smith, Alice Sowry, Glen Wallis, and Lindsay Young. This gives the committee a new and more diverse profile, bringing in a range of exciting new talents and perspectives.

Then, Iain Shaw accepts the role of programme manager, Andy Ford becomes the events manager, Sharon Wray is the Waterfront 5k manager, and I get the title of special projects manager. (I want to ask whether that makes me a person who manages special projects or a special person who manages projects, but I think better of it.) The rules allow all to attend committee meetings, though only the officially appointed members will have voting rights. Alan Stevens maintains his role as club patron.

Perhaps the most significant news for the club is that Michael and Sharon become the new managers of the J-team. They solemnly promise that in the coming season our juniors will be well-coached, highly motivated, and fuelled by Sharon’s apricot balls.

The thought of apricot balls hanging in the air, we agree that it is time for dinner, and so ends an efficient, productive, and strangely enjoyable AGM. Do I wish that every Wednesday was AGM day? Absolutely not. But in another twelve months, I will be back for more.