A changing of the mighty Blacks guard beckons, with President Nick Carah publicly announcing the end of his impressive tenure at the helm.
"After a 7-year stint as President - preceded by an additional 2 years as VP - it is time that I pass the mantle onto the next generation. It has been an absolute honour and privilege to lead this wonderful Club over a sustained period and I walk away completely satisfied and content that the Club is on solid ground and well-positioned for the future."
Despite already achieving Life-Membership in the 90s, due to his dedication as a 'playing President', it was no surprise to see him step up to the plate once more at the beginning of the 2015 season.
"Not many can say they've left the guernsey in a better place twice," said former Club Secretary, Scott Myers. Nick and Scott's partnership over many years was one of the important relationships Nick gives credit to, referring to Scott as "a true Blacks legend and custodian of the culture". Nick's "loyalty, drive, passion and genuine selflessness" are key pillars that will be remembered from his Presidency by Scott, remarking that the "only thing that stopped him from leading the Club back to A-Grade was a global pandemic" (although a major consolation prize was that it couldn't stop his beloved Dee's)!
The culture at the Blacks is one that we all recognise and treasure as envied yet sacred. Nick has, as good as anyone, ensured that through unwavering commitment, the Blacker spirit remains strong despite the truly challenging circumstances of the past 18 months. Specifically, Nick highlights Bede Mahon and Cam Roberts (Captain and Coach for much of his journey) as "two outstanding people that I respect enormously and helped to drive the standards and values that have held the Club in such good stead."
At present, the contributions of Coaches Dale Bower and Rob Paterson, in conjunction with on-field leaders Josh Steadman and Jordan Quaile help to continue this legacy onwards in fine fashion.
It would be remiss of us not to shine a light on "two of the most influential and supportive figures" Nick gives credit to during his time in office, that being the 'Godfather' Ray Wilson, and MUFC President Andrew Donald. "It has been an honour for [Nick] to walk in the shoes" of Ray, and the genuine appreciation for the "tireless and never-to-be-underestimated or ignored" work of Andrew was plainly apparent as Nick paid tribute to their support.
When asked for some words on Nick's departure, Ray described his management of the Club as "intelligent, energetic and inclusive - leaving his successor with a great foundation on and off the field to take us to further success." Furthermore, Andrew referred back to recent correspondence with VAFA CEO Brett O'Connell, going out of his way to highlight the regard in which NIck is held, "a fine man who is a chip off the old block of his Dad, John."
Nick especially made clear the support from his lovely wife Karen was not to go unnoticed, saying that her "amazing partnership" was a source of strength that he truly could not have done without.
Addressing the Club's lack of Premiership success over the past four years, Nick expressed honest frustration for not just himself, but everyone at the Blacks, given how close we came in 2018/19; "two years beaten by a few seconds in successive B Grade Preliminary Finals" only to be followed by having one of the strongest playing groups in recent memory in two Covid-affected years.
The awarding of a B-Grade Minor Premiership, while welcome, "is a far less tangible recognition of his impact than he deserves" according to Ray, and by golly do we agree with him. Stepping down now with a legacy to be enormously proud of is enough for Nick though, as the Club is in prime position to continue to be respected across the VAFA community and is poised for great things ahead.
Well done Nick, and a sincere thanks from all of us to you for your incredible work.
Like all great leaders, Nick has stepped away knowing that he has cemented a rock-solid succession plan. Former Captain of the Blacks in the mid-2000s, Patrick Barry, will take over from Nick at the end of 2021. Described as a "great leader with strong values, and a passionate supporter of the Club", he is absolutely the right person to take the Club forward.
In his last act as current President, Nick speaks to ALL supporters of the Club, to get behind Patrick, with many hands making light work. "If you are in a position to help the Club - contributions large or small - please reach out."
Driven by a desire to get back involved in the Club in an official role, given his love and passion for the place that has given him so much, Patrick is absolutely the right man for the job.
First introduced to the Blacks in 2002 - after being employed by none other than Ray Wilson in his finance business - Patrick was fortunate enough to be part of some magnificent years in Blacks history; captaining the Seniors from 2004-06 and winning successive Flags in 2004 & 2005. Quite naturally, we owe Ray for his initial venture down to the Blacks, with Patrick convinced by the reputation of our culture and the players being "a higher class of larrikin."
In a similar fashion to Ray and Nick, Patrick is well-known among the current and former playing groups at the Blacks, as a Director at the Club-sponsoring Partners Wealth Group, as well as being a loving and dedicated father to his two daughters, Summer and Willow.
Patrick succeeds Nick and is supported by a strong cohort of his contemporaries, with him and they equally knowing the rewards of being at the Blacks in successful times. Patrick is hungry to ensure that his time putting back into the Club will be equally beneficial for everyone associated with it, now and in the future.
The opportunity for Patrick to lead our Club arrives at just the right time heading into 2022, and we are eager to see what further developments arise in the coming weeks and months ahead. Congratulations Patrick and welcome back!