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 President John McCann provides an overview of happenings in 2020, and looks ahead to 2021. 

Dear members and supporters, 

Obviously, 2020 was for many reasons a very unusual season for the community, the competition and for our club. 

Before the season started, we had the COVID-19 shut down which terminated the season indefinitely and of course impacted our club operations and community significantly. 

Helping our Heartland
It was at this time our newly-created Northern Heartland Community Project - a partnership with naming rights sponsor RSEA - showed just how important our club can be in our community.

Through this initiative, we linked up with Foodbank Tasmania, West Moonah Community House and the Migrant Resource Centre, with the result being the people of our club, alongside RSEA and Palena Netball Club, contributed more than 700 hours of community work in 2020.

At a time of great uncertainty in our community, this outstanding work preparing and delivering food to those in need is a contribution our club can be proud of.

TSL negotiations
Our next big challenge was getting seasons underway for our TSL, TSLW and STJFL teams amongst the many challenges COVID presented.

With all TSL clubs negotiating with the AFL, we secured shortened TSL and TSLW seasons starting in July, which were at risk of being abandoned should another outbreak of COVID 19 occur in any of our Tasmanian communities. Fortunately, this was not the case.

Junior progress continues
It was also very pleasing that all our junior teams were able to participate in shortened season, and a very positive reflection on the work our club has done that more than 320 juniors represented our club this year, an increase from 2019.

Considering our junior participation was just 165 in 2017, to achieve almost double that amount in such an interrupted year was a fantastic achievement, and two junior premierships were a nice icing on the proverbial cake. 

The reinvigoration of our Magpie Juniors has resulted from the motivated Junior Committee and the Senior Club working very closely to resource the programme.

For the first time in 2020, our club had five junior girls teams, while numbers in our boys program have increased 35% since 2017, bucking the Tasmanian trend of decline in this area, particularly youth boys.

TSL player payments
Getting a TSL season underway came with conditions, including reduced licence payments from AFL Tas and no player match payments. For a range of reasons, several players could not accommodate the new season arrangements for 2020.

Those who remained, led by our strong player leadership group, agreed to play without pay. The season could not have taken place without their sacrifice, of which I believe the members have understood and appreciated.

TSL season
As for our performances in 2020, as a proud club it is clear we did not achieve many of our expectations. Even taking into account the nature of the season, we were disappointed that we did not have better results. We acknowledge that the performance of the three men's senior teams were below our responsibility to deliver. 

While there is no doubt injuries, including the 2019 knee injury legacy, had their impact, we are not looking for excuses but rather quickly addressing the reasons.

Before the season had concluded, the board and football department had commenced a review involving coaches, support staff and players in order to have an improved club performance in 2021 and beyond.  Changes have and are being made and strengths are being further developed, with full detail provided in the Club Coach's report.

There were also some positives from the season, with an opportunity for the accelerated development of younger players that should see a benefit to the club in coming years. The club has been planning for life after some of our modern stars - such as the great Jaye Bowden who we farewelled at season's end - through our resourcing of our youth pathways, and the young players on show this year showed plenty of promise for the future.

TSLW season
Our TSLW team showed what can be done, despite 16 experienced players departing from 2019, with coach Dean Webster and support staff being challenged to build a competitive team around two determined captains, our elite young guns, some raw aspiring talent and a number of quality recruits. In the end, the transformed TSLW Magpies became highly competitive and almost took state honours. 

Their thrilling semi-final win over Clarence was a club highlight for 2020, as was star Sarah Skinner claiming both league best & fairest and league goal kicking honours.

Further highlights
Another highlight was the beginning of our membership drive, which will be an ongoing feature for our club. With the help of the great Peter Hudson, our total club membership reached 811, and we achieved a 29% increase in membership sales from 2019.

We look forward to passing the 1000 mark in 2021, and look forward to your support when memberships launch in January.

Other football-related features of note from 2020 were :

·         Increased number of volunteers and improved service delivery

·         Game-day trading levels despite the 500-patron rule

·         Improved game-day experience

·         Management of COVID compliance challenges by our board, staff and members

·         Strong numbers taking up live streaming services of our games

·         Talent emerging from junior ranks for futures in TSL and TSLW

·         Sponsors contributing what they could manage during a difficult trading year

·         Learnings and the open communication that comes from a difficult season


Conclusion
In conclusion, 2020 was a season where our club achieved much. Our work in the community, developing juniors, promoting membership and in the women's game continued to set the standard, even though our performances on the TSL field were not at the level we expect and demand.

For the coming season the buzz around the club is positive. The strong numbers at TSL pre-season are committed and driven to have much stronger performances. For the TSLW we are hopeful of making sure they have a tier one competition to play in to maintain the high standard achieved by the top three clubs, and to hold the line till the younger talent coming through the other clubs attains senior playing age.

To all our members and supporters, the board, coaches, players and the football department are committed to an improved TSL performance for 2021. 

Now is the time to get behind our teams, be positive and reward their commitment with club membership, volunteering contributions if possible, player sponsorship and most importantly ongoing encouragement. 

Magpies “always flock together” and united in 2021 will see our club ready to take on any opposition and do the club and our community proud. 

Go Pies 
John McCann
President 
GDFC  

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