By Matt Fotia
Newly elected Doveton Football Netball Club President John Stapleton wants to ensure that the club continues to carry on the good work it got done in 2019, after he officially took over from outgoing President Aaron Henwood at the club’s Annual General Meeting last Sunday.
Stapleton, who is the father of Doves skipper and 2019 Best and Fairest winner Matthew, was the Doveton Vice President in 2019 and had been having regular discussions with Henwood about whether the Doveton midfielder would carry on with his unique role going forward.
— Doveton FNC (@DovetonFnc) September 26, 2019
However despite the ongoing discussions the decision to hand over the reins wasn’t finalised until very recently, with Henwood given as much time as possible to ponder this weighty decision.
“Aaron and I had been having discussions throughout the year about what his intentions were, because quite obviously it’s quite unique to be a playing President,” said Stapleton.
“Aaron’s had time to reflect and he wants to spend more time with his young family, so we finalised it (the changeover) late last week.”
Stapleton, who has previously been President of the Narre Warren North Foxes Junior Football Club, first became involved at Doveton via a friendship with Steven Henwood, who coached his boys during their junior careers.
However with Matt in particular moving on to test himself at different clubs and at different levels, playing with Rowville in the Eastern Football League and Sandringham in the VFL, John drifted away from the club.
But with Matt heading back to the Doves in recent years, John was back and ready to get his hands dirty at the backend of 2018 as the Doves encountered some well documented troubles in the final South East Football Netball League season.
“We rallied around (during the 2018 season) and that’s when Aaron and I first had a discussion and said we have to do something,”
“We needed to rebuild the list and build a new committee.”
That new committee was built and immediately got to work and re-started the clubs Under 18 program.
Then with the help of Martin Stillman, who took over as the club’s Football Manager, they also rejuvenated the club’s playing list and ultimately took out the Division One Premiership in 2019, edging out Pakenham in a thrilling encounter at Woori Yallock, completing a fairytale turnaround.
WATCH | Get all the angles and both the calls (from our own Matt Fotia and GameFace's Dan Lonergan) of Doveton skipper Matt Stapleton's match winning goal! #AFLOEDIV1
Thanks to OETV, Nick Creely and Max Kleverkamp for their footage. pic.twitter.com/huso8gApQx
— AFL OUTER EAST (@AFL_OE) September 24, 2019
Stillman and the Doves aren’t stopping there however, with Doveton already announcing a host recruits for the upcoming season via social media.
Stapleton says there are more to come as well.
“Martin’s been very active and we’ve still got some further signings to announce and that’s obviously really important as we move into the Premier Division,”
“And that’s something we are really excited about, that opportunity, and we look forward to that particular challenge, which won’t be easy.”
Stapleton taking over the presidency isn’t the only change off the field for Doveton either with two Vice President’s elected along with some changes to the netball sector.
“I’ve got two brand new Vice Presidents who’ll sit side by side and we’re rebuilding our netball after some issues from last year and that’s looking fantastic, we had some try outs on Saturday and that was well attended in regards to junior sides and senior players – so we are well on track with that,”
“We’ve also appointed a new Under 18’s coach who comes with a very successful track record and we intend to build on that,”
“We’re very busy at the moment, putting together that plans for next year and figuring out the things we need to do to continue to be successful.”
Stapleton is equally as keen to continue the club’s off-field rise as well, which Doveton have really focused on over the past 18-24 months, as they look to shed an unwanted, and in Stapleton’s opinion, unwarranted reputation.
“It might be clichè, but getting as many good people as possible to the club is really important, because good people bring good people and that’s the cornerstone of our success.”
“We’ve suffered in the past from the way people perceive us, people view Doveton a bit differently and I’ve experienced that in regard to the comments that people make,”
“But really Doveton is nothing like people think,”
“We want to be respected on and off the field – that’s something we are very very conscious of.”