Garry’s a Saint for life

August 26, 2017

Benalla Saints secretary Garry Harper has been involved with the club for 13 years now.

Garry Harper has been working behind the scenes at the Saints for 13 years. He started out on barbecue duty on match day, but is now a life member.

You’re a life member of the Saints. How did that come about?

It happened last year at the club’s presentation night. I was actually helping out with the running of the night and presenting some awards, and near the end of the night some of the organisers said that a special award was to be presented — and it was for me. Some friends and family were there too, which was nice. They snuck in the back door without my noticing.

Would you say that award is one of the highlights of your time with the club?

Absolutely. You don’t join a club with a life membership in mind, but it was really fantastic to be recognised for my time at the club over the years.

What are some of the jobs you’ve done for the club in your 13 years?

Well, I think I started on the barbecue on game day. Every good club needs a barbecue, so that was my task for a couple of years.

I’ve also been the club’s secretary for nine years, which is kind of the administration side of things, plus player registrations and clearances, but it keeps everything running smoothly on game day.

I’ve been doing some of the treasurer’s duties as well now. It can be fairly long hours, but there’s always something new happening. I do some of the bar work too in the week and post-match on a Saturday. It’s like its own business now, the bar.

Do you ever want to get back out on the field and represent the Saints?

No, never. I only played at a junior level in the youth leagues way back in the day in Benalla.

Oh right. And were you born and bred in Benalla, or are you a recent addition like myself?

No, I was born here. I went to Benalla East for primary, before going to Benalla High. I moved away for work for a few years in the 1980s to Seymour, but for me all roads led back to Benalla. I didn’t go on to do any tertiary education, but I’ve done some certificates in my work afterwards.

Do you have family here in Benalla?

I’ve got my family here and we’re really settled, so there’s not much point in moving around.

My daughter is 28 and lives in Melbourne and my son is 26 and lives in Benalla. It’s nice to have them around us still, you know, in the same state — it makes catching up really easy.

What is it about the Saints that makes for such a special club to be part of?

It’s the people around the club, for sure. It’s good to be involved in a community club because of the people you come into contact with. Everyone there is striving to do well for the club, on the field or off it. We’ve been successful recently in terms of the teams’ results, but it hasn’t always been that way. A few years ago we couldn’t buy a win, but we had the people around the club who were looking to make that change and make it into a winning club again. I think as long as you have that group of people that are willing to work hard for the club off the pitch, then the results will look after themselves on it.

There are a lot of long-term projects that we have worked on over the years and it’s good to see that starting to pay off now.

What AFL team do you support and why?

I’m a Carlton supporter. I’ve always been one as long as I can remember. I’ve been a member every year as well, so you get all the kit and the scarf and things like that, which is great.

It’s sometimes hard to get down to Melbourne to see the games, especially if they’re playing on Saturdays, but we tend to get down to at least a few every year.

What do you do outside of the club in your spare time?

The club takes up any spare time I have, really! It’s amazing how much time it does take up, but I’m doing it because I enjoy it and I want to do it. It’s my extra activity and hobby outside of my work.

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