Keith Pester is a jovial chap who loves his football and his affiliation with the north shore and particularly Manly United after spending the last thirty-five years being involved with the club.
“I was the Chairman almost from day one but the title has changed to president these days and the changes over the time has been remarkable to say the least. I was there to see the amalgamation with North Shore United when we changed our name to Manly North Shore and twelve months later we joined with Warringah Freshwater. At the time they were putting in big move with the council to take over Cromer Park so we joined and had joint Presidents for a while. Of course we altered the name again and became the Manly-Warringah Dolphins and finally to our present name – Manly United – so I’ve seen three name changes over the years.”
It has taken time but the club has forged some strong relationships.
“We have a strong affiliation with the Junior Association now and I’m on their board and one of their members is on ours. We hold joint meetings so everyone knows where we are at and it’s been working very well.”
Although Pester never had anyone playing at this level he recounts.
“I had two boys playing at Wakehurst where I was the President for nine years before I was head hunted to go down to Manly. They were in a spot of bother and continually running out of money for one reason or another. I was hardly there five minutes when the then President passed away and I was asked to take over and I’ve been there ever since.”
We’ve all heard some funny stories over the years but the next one takes some beating.
“I suppose the strangest thing I’ve ever been asked was to remove a swarm of bees that was holding a game up. I can’t remember if it was the 16s or 18s who were about to kick-off when the ref came up to me and said; “We can’t start the game,” and told me the reason why so I went down to the corner flag to take a look. By the time I got there it had fallen over under the weight of the bees settled on it so I picked it up and managed to get the majority of them back on the flag, walked over to the fence and shook them off into a tree. I replaced the corner flag, walked up to the ref and said: “Right, get on with it.” I wasn’t a beekeeper at that time but I certainly am now,” he says laughingly.
There has been plenty of highlights, far too many to mention but a few that stand out are winning the Waratah Cup in 2011, gaining promotion from the Super League to the State League in the mid-90s but the proudest achievement during Pester’s tenure isn’t about silverware.
“Getting the Grandstand up is probably my proudest moment at the club. We used to have a couple of rows of old wooden seats, which actually came from Valentine Park believe it or not. We never thought we would be able to raise the money to get the Grandstand built but we have thanks to the recycled seating we got from the swimming venue at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was supposed to be the ‘green’ Olympics and we got the seating for nothing and only had to pay for the haulage and with one of our members being a draughtsman, we got some plans drawn up and can today boast of a Grandstand at Cromer Park. It took a great deal of work from a lot of people but we managed it and a huge thank you goes out to all who shared that dream.”
Moving forward and Manly want to be seen as a leading club with a good coaching structure, something they have worked hard to put into place and a major part of that is to develop players through to first grade, a point Pester is adamant on.
“If we can bring on young talent through to our first grade side I feel we are doing a good job and that is a huge part of what we see is the role of the National Premier League clubs along with being competitive within the league. We are in a strong financial position without rolling in money but we balance the books so we don’t overspend and that is an important factor in what we are trying to achieve in growling this club and association into the future.
To sum up his years in three words proved difficult as that is a story within itself so we settled for an abbreviation with a play on the corner flag incident – “Bee-n very interesting.”
Heritage Round Match Details
Rockdale City Suns v Manly United
5:00pm Sunday 14th June @ Ilinden Sports Centre
Tickets available at the gate (Adults $15, Concessions $10)
-By Micky Brock