Ever been to an annual general meeting and heard the phrase ‘all positions declared vacant’ and then nothing but silence?
No one’s making eye contact with anyone for fear of being thrown under a road train, let alone a bus that might land them on a committee.
The light from those long fluorescent bulbs at whatever services club you’re at begin to mimic the incandescent glow of an interrogation room.
That sound of crickets reaching a piercing pitch while everyone has flocked to the furthest seats up the back they can find.
The call to fill the chairs at the front of the meeting room met with nothing more than a group of grown men playing statues. Nobody flinch.
You can guarantee it happens, almost everywhere.
And in the midst of all the panic from the gallery, there's one bloke about to embark on his 10th year as secretary, another rounding 20 seasons in the treasurer’s job and a president that’s dabbled in every role on the committee before finding himself in the top job.
He’s been helping out for the better part of 15 years too.
And, they’ll all go around again.
Still crickets from the gallery though.
Finding help to run sporting clubs, big or small, is harder than drawing blood from a stone.
And the battle is amplified in country regions.
Clubs don’t just fold in the bush. They plummet into a wilderness dark enough they fail to re-emerge for decades.
Towns, communities, lose their identities.
Over the last week and a bit we’ve seen it in our region, with both the Cowra Magpies and Forbes Magpies in Group 10 and Group 11 respectively failing to fill the vital positions of president and secretary on their 2018 committees.
Cowra took three attempts to finally find some help, while Forbes filled its top job on its second go. The secretary’s job is still vacant at the Group 11 club though.
And that’s just the ones we know about.
Soccer, rugby union, Australian Rules clubs in Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Young, Cowra and Lithgow, they’re rustling around to fill spots on their committees.
It’s not a new battle. This sort of thing happens every year. Twice a year, actually, with cricket clubs often battling at the end of their seasons as well.
And it’s all because of a misconception: someone else will do it.
In many cases that’s why old mate who takes the minutes has been doing it for two decades. Or why John Smith has been president for the last 10 years.
Everyone else involved with the club just knows someone else will do it.
That attitude has to change.
It’s crucial everyone involved in any sporting club offers some help. Any help. Lend a hand, or two – many of them make light work when it comes to running clubs.
For a footy club, for example, selling raffle tickets, manning the gate, cooking the snags, occupying the bar, setting up the field, washing the jerseys, ground announcing, simply going to meetings – the more people who put their hands up to help out the less likely jobs like these are left to the already hard working committee.
New committee members bring fresh ideas too. That’s just as important.
In an age of social media, long serving committees and boards must surely be crying out for some gen Y types to oversee Facebook, Twitter and any other new platforms that emerge. Is Snapchat still a thing?
A lot of clubs do this, and do it well, already.
But, from experience on a couple of committees over the years, no one is ever going to knock back help if it’s offered.
Get involved and help clubs grow and thrive – it's pretty rewarding.