OPINION: Good blokes may not win premierships

THERE has been a lot of talk and focus on community engagement as a goal of the Newcastle Knights, and that’s fair enough.

Do you remember the scenes of euphoria witnessed at the civic reception, days after the 1997 grand final win? The thousands that were present and the hundreds of thousands throughout the valley could not have felt more a part of the club. That’s community engagement.

Today, we find a club that is ‘‘strategically focused’’ on regaining the community’s engagement. I reckon we should be more focused on winning and making the tough decisions that will lead to that.

In 1988 I became one of only 600 foundation members of the Newcastle Knights. I was at the Sydney Football Stadium for the grand final win against Manly in 1997 and in the front row screaming my lungs out when we won against Parra in 2001.

My wife says that I am a nicer person to be around when the Knights win. In short, I care, perhaps too much, about the red and blue.

As someone who is a member of the Knights community, the business community and the Hunter community generally, I feel the need to speak out about what is bugging me about the Knights.

I don’t know Rick Stone, but everyone says he is a good, if not great, bloke. Brian McGuigan sounds like a fine chap too, seems to get along real well with everyone. I have met Matt Gidley a couple of times and I know he’s a good bloke.

In the Knights’ opinion piece in this paper on Wednesday and reiterated at the members’ briefing on Wednesday night, there were a couple of things that caused me concern. It spoke of the importance of community engagement. It spoke of the Knights being a business. It spoke of restoring pride, of culture and of values, all of which I applaud and support.

But winning is not a by-product of this collective effort, as stated, it is the way to achieve community engagement, and that’s where I believe the club may have lost its way.

Winning will bring back the fans and make the problems disappear. Winning should be the ultimate aim, of course underpinned by values and culture.

The column also said that our team will include the best locals. I strongly support junior development as a focus, but shouldn’t it be a matter of performance not postcode?

The questions I ask of the club are: Have we let being ‘‘good blokes’’ get in the way of making tough decisions that will lead to success?

Has the management and board displayed enough of a steely edge to return us to being a winning club? Is the current culture at board and management level too comfortable and relaxed?

I don’t want our club to be mediocre and middle of the pack. I want the focus to be on winning, not just on being good blokes. Community engagement is indeed important, but it is not the end game. The end game is winning and being the most dominant force in the NRL. Engagement will come with that.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, the American Football coaching legend: ‘‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’’.

I don’t agree 100per cent but I think the current strategic emphasis and culture need to be disrupted and refocused.

Greg Mowbray is a business and leadership consultant, Knights tragic and foundation member.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation