This brief history of The Entrance Leagues Club has been developed by current President, Dave Hart, with reference to the recorded minutes of the early meetings held during the late 70’s, the Annual General Meetings which commenced in 1982, the Annual Reports commencing in 1990 and of course the memories of some iconic totally biased and highly spirited Entrance Tigers supporters.
What is apparent particularly throughout the early years is the enduring commitment and persistence shown by all those involved in the establishment of this club and the important role that fate has played when a number of personalities fortunately chose to move to the area, became connected to the Tigers and were subsequently co-opted to the project.
It certainly seems that, against all odds, destiny had decided that The Entrance Leagues Club had to be and this was endorsed when after the Club was opened founding President, Jack Hughes, announced that his job was done and handed the reins to Mick Williams to take the established Club into the future.
THE EARLY YEARS UP TO 1992
Our story started I suppose sometime in the 1970’s and probably over a cold beer after a Tigers win when the idea for a licensed Club was discussed by some of the Football Club Committee and a few supporters and the spark was ignited. This bold idea was obviously kicked around for a few years and the different options considered including funding and location. Certainly by the late 70’s the idea had gained momentum and was being seriously considered.
In 1978 fate stepped in and a historical relationship was created. Ron Catts heard about John Hughes, a Long Jetty resident, who had first-hand experience in starting a licensed club. John was approached and agreed to join the Football Committee and importantly the Building Committee. In 1979 he was elected President of the Football Club but in 1980 he didn’t seek re-election to the Executive devoting all his time to the future Club. Through his contacts John secured the present land as part of the Bay Village development.
Over the next 12 years the commitment of all involved was well and truly tested throughout a period of at times positive prospects followed by frustrating financial hurdles but the Tiger spirit and determination kept the project alive through the following years.
1981 - Provisional Board is formed to prepare for incorporation. Preliminary plans are submitted to the Lands Department for approval.
1982 - Draft Constitution is prepared and the Company is incorporated on 25 June 1982. The 1st Meeting of The Entrance District Rugby League Football and Sports Club Limited is held at The Lakes Hotel on 27th July 1982. Initial membership is 427. The only female director to date, Mrs Jan Haigh, (then Secretary – Golden Hind Womens Bowling Club) joins the Board in October 1982. 1st Annual General Meeting is held at Tuggerah Lakes Memorial Club on 26th November 1982.
1983 - Just when he was needed another newcomer to the area, Jack Jones is discovered and appointed Secretary. Further south on the Central Coast Woy Woy Leagues Club opens.
1985 - Personal approaches to some successful Leagues Clubs for financial support generates some interest but has limited initial success.
1986 - Board is faced with the difficult decision of lease V purchase with limited finance. Meanwhile the football season rolls on with the addition of the new “Ken Kear & Jack Jones Hill” constructed at EDSAC South with CEP funding. In July a critical decision is made. Will we build or wind up? After much consideration a fundraising committee is formed comprising Mick Williams, Warren Hammond, Ian Rice, Paul Gillett, Arthur Lake and again someone who fate had decided should join us, our legendary Third Grade Captain-Coach, Jim Stockwell.
1987 - Having been granted an option to buy the land from the Department of Lands for a sum in the vicinity of $300,000 the drive for funding began in earnest. Major disappointment when the Commonwealth Bank rejects our application for finance and again serious consideration is given to winding up.
The option to buy lapses.
1988 - Bob Graham, future Member for The Entrance, provides some much needed political assistance. Following lengthy representations to the NSW Government a new 30 year lease is offered on the land. NSW Minister for Lands, Gary West promotes the prospect of Banks being able to lend against leased Crown land and our prospects of finance are given a boost.
1989 - Fundraising continues and in December ’89 with a degree of uncertainty we apply for a licence and arrange for the preparation of preliminary plans.
1990 - With a total membership of 506 final plans and engineers details are arranged by Jim Stockwell and the land is surveyed in readiness by Rod Rosewell. John Stevens joins the Board and in a publicity officer’s role coordinates yet another fundraising drive with the major focus on Gold and Business Life Memberships. In June ’90 despite limited finance the Board made a bold decision to proceed and appointed Jim Stockwell as builder. The building operations commenced in July ’90 and included the official “turning of the soil” by the then Chief Secretary, Gary West and Bob Graham, Member for The Entrance at the “Champagne Breakfast” held on the site and heavily promoted on local radio by Rick Jullienne and Dave Salmon with meat supplied by Ted Hollier and wine by Penfolds courtesy of Warren Hammond.
With the land lease secured, liquor license approved, building approval issued and very limited funds other than a loan of $60,000 from Wyong Shire Council the building works proceed thanks to the generous support from the construction and club industries, the volunteer labour supplied by the footballers and supporters and the $1000 Gold and $2000 Business Life Membership contributors.
From the supply of excavation equipment, bob-cat operation, pest treatment, plumbing and drainage, concrete pump hire, installation of beer lines, supply of brickwork and the list goes on… the support was amazing as was the steady growth in membership of a future club, a dream, represented by a small sign-written shed displaying the tiger emblem on the site along The Entrance Road - “the future home of The Tigers” manned every day by Ken Kear, Don Russell and Ray Vinn.
1991 - With the building works steadily proceeding our high hopes are once again dashed in May ’91 when the Commonwealth Bank loan is again rejected due to insufficient equity. The decision is then made to arrange individual personal guarantees from all directors and at the suggestion of our good friend, Harry Quinlan from Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, to seek financial help from other established clubs. In June ’91 the AGM of the Leagues Clubs Association is addressed by Mick Williams, Phil Andrews, John Gordon and John Stevens with hopeful prospects. Fundraising continues from raffles and major functions held at the Club including the very 1st New Year’s Eve Celebrations welcoming in what would be an eventful year of 1992 followed a week later by a huge Rock Concert.
1992 - With fundraising stretched to the limit and continuation of building works threatened, confirmation of financial support is received from Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club as well as Ryde-Eastwood Football Club, St George Leagues Club, Maitland Leagues Club, Newcastle Leagues Club and Asquith Leagues Club as well as a guarantee if required from Wentworthville Leagues Club. This together with the directors’ personal guarantees and the current status of the building enables Pat McCudden to finally convince the Commonwealth Development Bank to approve our loan for $750,000. Building works are finalised, inaugural Secretary-Manager Wayne Faddy appointed, support staff engaged and the Club is officially opened by Mayor Tony Sheridan on 25th October. At the very first AGM held in the Club later in the year founding President John Hughes, satisfied that his job has been done, steps down and is replaced by Mick Williams. The Club formally adopts the new title of The Entrance Leagues Club.
THE FIRST TEN YEARS OF TRADING
1993 - This was the first full year of trading and even with the usual settling-in issues and expected growing pains the financial and trading targets were either met or exceeded. Part of these initial achievements must be attributed to the highly successful Bay Rock Nightclub established and professionally operated by Ken Ryan and Glen Menser where our young members and guests could “Party Hard and Party Late!” It was only fitting that the first full year of trading also included the 1st Grade Premiership victory well and truly celebrated in the Club premises.
1994 - A year of amazing growth in patronage, trade and membership (total members: 3603).
1995 - The first major extensions completed (Bayside Brasserie, Tigers Café, Gaming Area, Auditorium and the Jack Hughes Sports Bar.) Bay Rock Nightclub continues to be the place to go with fabulous lighting and sound again congratulations and thanks to Ken and Glen. Once again huge celebrations in our auditorium with another 1st Grade premiership.
1996 - With new enlarged facilities the Club experiences 50% growth on previous year’s trading. Membership increases to 7311.
1997 - This was the toughest year in the short history of the Club with gaming machines allowed into hotels, competition from nearby clubs, opening of the new Mingara complex and sadly the closure of the Bay Rock Nightclub. However on a positive note, thanks to our Local Member Grant McBride and Minister for Gaming and Racing Richard Face, we secured a TAB facility which was installed in the updated Sports Bar.
1998 - The Club is back on track with a resounding increase in profit and overall performance. Merger with The Golden Hind Women’s Bowling Club proceeds providing the ladies with security and the Club with much needed space for future development and car parking needs. Construction of the Eastern Lounge and Gaming Room extensions are completed. TAB converted to ClubTab facility. Football Committee President Phil Andrews steps down after 13 years at the helm during a memorable and highly successful period. Phil is replaced by Mick Bates to take the Football Club into another successful period and Phil then takes on the challenging Presidency of the Juniors where he remains today. Sadly we lose our Founding President John Hughes.
1999 - Second major extensions are completed (Bay room, meeting rooms, enlarged entry and foyer, sports lounge, extended gaming lounge, administration area, staff amenities, carpark extension and upgrade). Membership increases to 10,000+.
2000 - Another difficult trading year due to expansion of gaming into hotels and introduction of anti-gaming measures. Vale Terry Smith, Life Member, Director and Football Club Vice President and Committeeman, a very popular and hard-working Club stalwart. Terry would have been immensely proud that we won the 1st Grade Premiership shortly before his death.
2001 - Despite the tough times in the Club Industry we meet our commitments with a small profit. Sadly Clive Churchill, a former player from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and Treasurer and Director in the ‘80’s passes away during the year.
2002 - Current CEO Mark Chaffey is appointed. Major improvements are made to Club décor and the gaming area. In house catering is commenced.
TEN MORE YEARS OF GROWTH
2003 - Arguably the best year to date in the Club’s history. Achieved a healthy profit in excess of the previous year, won the Inaugural Jim Beam Cup, the Central Coast 1st Division Premiership and the Central Coast Business Awards Club of the Year over 8000 members trophy. During the year we lost a very special friend in Harry Quinlan, former President of Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, who had played such an important role when we desperately needed financial help to build the Club.
2004 - Another great year! Record profit, runners up in the Jim Beam Cup and back to back Premierships in the Central Coast 1st Division. Vale another Club stalwart, Jack Jones.
2005 - Major internal renovations and refurbishment are completed (new carpet and furniture, new bar facility, upgraded toilet facilities, altered reception area, direct access to brasserie) Jim Beam Cup and Central Coast 1st Division were finalists and the Under 17’s Premiers. Sadly we have to farewell former Football Club Secretary and committeeman, Director, passionate supporter and historical voice of the Tigers – Arthur Lake.
2006 - More industry challenges are faced, poker machine tax increases and smoking restrictions. To cater for smoking members the Eastern and Western Terraces are constructed. TAB Sports Bar facilities upgraded. Generator installed. Gym facility installed for players and staff. Under 17’s, Under 19’s and Reserve Grade teams make the Central Coast Division Grand Finals. Membership reaches 12625.
2007 - Major reduction in trading and profit influenced by the total indoor smoking ban and further increases in gaming tax. Football Club celebrates the Jim Beam Cup and Central Coast Division Reserve Grade Premierships. Due to financial uncertainty decision is made to withdraw from the Jim Beam Cup competition. Mick Williams steps down after 15 years as President and is replaced by David Hart.
2008 - Trading downturn due to smoking ban and struggling economy continues and the Club suffers its first loss. Construction of alfresco gaming area and outdoor areas commences. On the football field the Tigers take out the Central Coast Club Championship with all four Grades contesting the Grand Finals resulting in 1st Grade and Under 19’s Premierships and as an added reward the undefeated 1st Grade side is awarded the coveted CRL Clayton Cup. In their tenth year of amalgamation with us the Golden Hind ladies celebrate their 40th Birthday and win their first ever pennant.
2009 - What a great year for the Club! Despite the global financial crisis and tough local economic circumstances we post our second highest ever operating profit to date while the Football Club celebrates its best year ever, winning all four Premierships (1st, Reserve, Under 20 and Under 17) as well as the Club Championship. Additional facilities are provided for our smoking members with the completion of the Alfresco Gaming Area and the Western and Eastern Outdoor Terraces. We lose another of our respected Life Members, Ken Kear who served on the Football Committee and the Board during the 80’s.
2010 - Bayside Brasserie is fully renovated and the Arthur Lake Auditorium kitchen is upgraded and refurbished. Gaming Room is fully refurbished and the Alfresco Area is extended and upgraded. TAB and Keno facilities are refurbished. Football Club re-enters the Bundaberg Red Cup Competition making the Finals whilst a classy Under 19’s side take out the Central Coast Premiership. Membership reaches 14,000+
2011 - Alfresco Dining Area and Children’s Play Area completed. Bundaberg Red Cup team again makes the Finals and on the Central Coast the Under 17’s and 19’s are Runners up whilst the Reserve Grade takes out the Premiership and the Football Club again wins the Club Championship. Membership continues to grow to 15,000+
2012 - Another excellent trading year thanks to our loyal members. Existing bowling green is replaced with a modern synthetic green with fully paved surrounds, lighting and watering system. In partnership with Wyong Council major drainage works at EDSAC South fields are completed and perimeter fencing works commenced. Gym is refurbished and equipment replaced and upgraded. In a tough Grand Final the Bundaberg Red Cup team are close Runners up whilst the Under 18’s (1) are dominant Premiers on the Central Coast.
And so we look forward now to a positive but unknown future. Already there are signs of difficult financial times ahead but with The Entrance Tigers determination and the support of our loyal members we are extremely confident of ongoing success both in the Leagues Club and in the Rugby League sporting arena.