Club getting stronger
Although 2005 and 2006 didn’t see us win a flag in either Grade or even make the Grand Final, there was no doubt we had set new benchmarks off the field.
Sponsorship was at an all-time high – whilst Beaches, and Bellambi Pub were in their last year of sponsorship, Palm Court Hotel and Pioneer Electrical Supplies were taking up a greater role. Additionally, there was a 2nd Black & Gold Ball and a new money-raiser : the very popular Dapto Dogs Night. The long-awaited Clubhouse improvements were finally in the pipeline, and Junior sides were going from strength to strength.
1st Grade were undefeated after 6 games, a stretch which included a memorable 1 pt win over Port after trailing by 32, and a fantastic game v Bomaderry at Hollymount which ended in a draw. Injuries (in particular a season-ender to captain Rocket) cut us down again and after finishing 3rd on the ladder, we lost the minor semi to Albatross at home, when they jumped us with 8 goals in the first quarter.
Josh McLarnen bounced back to win his 4th Best & fairest award, whilst Trent Avery nabbed leading goal-kicker. Exciting new players such as Chad Purcell, Mark Edis and Scott Dennis served us well as did the reliable group of Funky, Chook, Warthy, Jeff Burton, Chris Hally-Burton, Mark Salmon and Jason de Bruin.
Reserves, under new Coach Busby, missed the finals but had some good players nonetheless. Their best result was a 43 pt win over Nowra with Tiny kicking 5 goals. That was not enough for him to win leading goal-kicker, that honour, and also Ressies B&F went to Peter Mant. New players Trent Humberstone, Parri Gregory and Dean Henderson did well, as did the evergreens Tangles, Steve Ayrton, Paul Appleton, Andy Hicks and Fred Lloyd.
Trent Avery capped a great year by being voted Best Clubperson.
On a sad note, 2005 saw the passing of one of North’s greatest matriarchs, Merle Caldow at 90 years of age.
In total contrast to 2005, on-field we got off to a shocking start in 2006. After 8 Rounds (including a bye and a wash-out), the 2 Grades had two wins between them, with Ressies failing to trouble the scorer at all re Ladder points. Both Grades were just a couple of good players away from clinching games, Ressies Coach Busby feeling the pain when his team lost a series of narrow games and finished just one game out of the finals.
Chris Covington was well-deserved B&F in the magoos, and new player Andrew (Shandy) Shepherd was leading goal-kicker. Promising youngsters such as Andrew Hammonds, Ben Mooney, Brendan Mills and Derek Langhorn complemented the old heads.
1st Grade (Coached for the 3rd and final time by Bill Parsons) battled back to be in the four late season, but lost its last 2 games to miss the finals for the first time since 2002. It was certainly no fault of the brave pair who shared the 1sts B&F award : Jason de Bruin and Mark (Funky) O’Rourke. Scott Dennis (who shared Leading goal kicker with Funky), and Jade Purcell were next in the B&F followed by the two Burtons : Jeff and Peter.
Jeff made the Presentation Night memorable when, on his own birthday, he became the first Burton ever to win his mother’s memorial Most Courageous Award.
Ian Johnson was awarded best Club person for 2006.
As stated, the results on field were not great, however, from a Club-building point of view, a great positive was the opening of the new Clubhouse which, apart from improved sheds and canteen, has an excellent spacious social area.
Other highlights included:
- Record (or near to) number of registered players in 1sts and Reserves.·
- Cash awards (Benny’s Best) for players for the very 1st time.·
- Highly successful Junior Club (including 2 Tiger teams in the U/13’s) – Norths Juniors were a realistic chance of winning 5 premierships