By Barry Irving
THE highlight of a lunch at the Rye Football Netball Clubrooms last week was the presentation of Mornington Peninsula Netball Football League life membership to Michael O’Rourke.
Regional manager AFL South East Will Dakis presented the award before 95 sponsors and guests at the event, Saturday 3 July.
Mr O’Rourke has had a 57-year association with the MPNFL and the Rye Football and Netball Club. He started as a player in the Rye under-17s in 1964 and has been a constant at the club ever since. This includes 16 years as vice-president (1980-1995) and the past 20 years as president (2002-21) – an outstanding 36 years as a senior office bearer. Also, from 1969, Mr O’Rourke has performed other roles on the committee, including as treasurer and secretary.
A life member of the Rye FNC, Mr O’Rourke played 342 games, of which 113 were in the seniors. He played in one senior premiership and was involved in six reserves premierships – two as a player, one as captain/coach and three as coach. He also won two reserves best-and-fairest awards.
Mr O’Rourke has been Rye Sports and Social Club representative for the past 46 years and plays a pivotal role in the running of the annual Rye Gift each January. As a league tribunal delegate, he liaises with the shire, maintains a strong association with the junior football and netball clubs and the cricket club, alongside all the other many and varied roles expected of the president.
Mr O’Rourke is also the club’s major fund manager, looking after sponsorship and sourcing new ones.
In its 75 year history Rye Football Netball Club has only had five presidents: Wilfred Rowley 1946-58, Clarrie Jennings 1959-79, Nick Appleford 1980-95, Colin Beel 1996-2001, and Mr O’Rourke 2002-21 – and still going strong.
After the lunch the senior team capped off Mr O’Rourke’s day with a gutsy win over a strong, challenging Somerville team.