BY GRAHAM CORNES
FRED Drolsbach passed away last week.
He was just 66 years old (although he looked much younger) and had devoted almost half his life to the Glenelg Football Club.
But this is not just a story about the Glenelg Football Club, because every Australian sporting club, even those most professional of teams for which we think money is no object, has a Fred Drolsbach.
For Australian sport relies almost entirely on an extended family of volunteers.
The chief executives and other staff are well paid in the professional and semi-professional sports but, ironically, the teams simply would not function without their volunteers, whose only reward is the success of their teams or perhaps watching one of their young charges move to an elite level.
I first noticed Fred, and his wife Judy, when I was playing for the Bays.
A young attractive couple, they would sit quietly after a game, always with a friendly smile and a warm greeting, regardless of the result.
Slowly, over the years their family grew; firstly Kylie, then Cherie came along — petite pretty girls who seemed to share their parents’ temperament and love of the club into which they had been indoctrinated.
Then, at the end of the 1990 season, the phenomenon that is the Adelaide Football Club emerged, almost from nowhere.
Overnight South Australian football changed forever.
It became much harder to run a SANFL club.
No longer were they the elite of South Australian football; no longer was it so appealing or attractive to be associated with a SANFL club.
Glenelg was particularly hard hit and when the Under 17 colts team was struggling to find a property steward, Fred at the urging of his daughter Cherie who was friendly with one of the young players, volunteered.
Over the ensuing years he served as a property steward for the senior colts, reserves, then the league team. Finally he became the team manager for the league team — a job that requires almost as much time and energy as that for an AFL team.
Fred was a beauty. Of Dutch extraction, he had immigrated with his parents when he was only two.
He was the type of man about who everyone says: “Fred Drolsbach — yeah he’s a good guy”. Glenn Elliot, Glenelg’s chief executive who has spent a lifetime around footy and other sporting clubs, said: “ I’ve never seen a person who has made such a selfless, non-conditional contribution to a football club. He expected nothing in return”.
He was multiskilled as well. When a wall needed painting or general maintenance was required, Fred simply did it, saving the club thousands.
Did such commitment come at the expense of family life? Judy, who also served the club on the various ladies’ committees, never thought so. “He always came straight home after training”, said Judy. “And after a game, when the formalities had been completed, he wouldn’t go to the bar with the boys.
“He’d always find me and join me”.
They had been childhood sweethearts (he met Judy when he was 16), and they developed a genuine love for their football club.
Fred’s passing was unexpected. He had otherwise been healthy but developed a severe case of pancreatitis, which was complicated by a superbug.
He spent 11 weeks in an intensive care unit before he succumbed. In his final days, he was still thinking of the Glenelg Football Club, which has faced many challenges over the past few years. The financial predicament of the club has been well publicised and only recently, in one of the severe storms, a grandstand lost its roof and was severely damaged.
One of his last statements to his wife, in a pain-wracked delirium, was: “Tell Glenn (Elliott) to rebuild the club on a big rock and we’ll be all right”.
The metaphor of a solid foundation, be it physical, financial or of personnel is significant.
There are times when the volunteers who sustain any sporting club are taken for granted. It is a great sadness that people like Fred Drolsbach never really get to know just how much they are needed, appreciated and, ultimately, missed.
The Glenelg Football Club is pleased to announce Narelle Smith as Coach of the inaugural Glenelg SANFL Women's team.
Narelle comes with extensive experience in the Women’s game and is an accredited Level 2 Coach who has been the Head Coach of the SA Senior Women’s Team since 2013. Narelle experienced Premiership success as coach of Morphettville Park in the SAWFL Competition on two occasions and has been involved as the backline coach for the Melbourne Football Club Women’s Team in the annual game against the Western Bulldogs. Narelle is currently our reserves assistant coach, a role she began in 2016.
Training for our Statewide Super Women’s team has begun at Westminster College on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5.30pm.
The Glenelg Football Club is delighted to be involved and believe that such a competition will assist in a pathway for women to play AFL.
The season will consist of six minor round matches, with all games to be played as double-headers at either Coopers Stadium or City Mazda Stadium.
A highlight will be the round four double-header to be held at The Parade as a curtain-raiser to Adelaide’s AFL Women’s clash with Brisbane.
SANFL CEO Jake Parkinson said it was a great opportunity for the inaugural players and clubs to make their mark on the competition.
The season will culminate in a twilight grand final on Saturday 1st April at Peter Motley Oval, between the top two teams on the ladder.
Entry to all Women’s League matches will be free, with plenty of family friendly activities.
We have a wide variety of memberships available for the 2017 season. Maintain your support for the club you love and sign up as a member TODAY!
The Glenelg Club has the perfect space for your next function, from casual to formal dinners, cocktail functions, corporate meetings, conferences, product launches, fashion parades, birthday's, engagement's, wedding's and more.
The Glenelg Football Club can only survive with the support of those who care most about the Club. The reason behind our debt level of $3.4 million rests with the investment made in 2002 to upgrade a leasehold Council facility.
The Latest News for the Glenelg Football Club is proudly sponsored by Gary J Smith, We're Home. This section features regular updates on players, the club, the season and all things Glenelg with articles by Zac Milbank, CEO Glenn Elliott and maybe an occasional word from Graham Cornes.
New for 2016 the Glenelg Football Club RUNNER ... have your say about any issue around the club by sending a message to the CEO, Marketing Department, Players or Coaches and standby for their reply published online for all supporters to read.
The Fan Zone features lots of cool stuff for our supporters including new sections TigerTV, The Bay Runner, Tiger Tips and the Online Scoreboard. Old favourites still remain including Photo Galleries, The Tiger Shop for official Glenelg FC merchandise and the club song.
In 1920 the Mayor of Glenelg, John Mack, convened a public meeting to inaugurate the Club at the Glenelg Town Hall. Although no League position was available for the Club in 1920 the Glenelg Oval Association received a letter from the South Australian Football League ...
Tiger TV is a new feature that will gather unique insights into the Glenelg Football Club both on and off the field. Clint Alleway (Tiger Power Forward) will host interviews with players and coaches to get all the latest news, gossip, banter, tall stories etc