Meet the new SEA EAGLES CEO
One million people around the state call themselves fans of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, so it goes without saying that Tim Cleary has a big job on his hands to make them all happy.
Sitting down with Peninsula Living, the ex-Raiders fan (he was born in Canberra) seems conﬁdent he’ll rise up to challenge in his new job. "The owner of the Sea Eagles, Scott Penn, one day knocked on my door and said, 'Come and work for us’,” he says. “I had 15 years at St Augustine’s. I felt my job was done there.
“The Sea Eagles didn't employ me because of my knowledge of rugby league. They employed me because of my administrative skills. They wanted a new leader – and I believe I can be just that," he continues. "Primarily, they want me to ﬁx 'The Fortress' [Brookvale Oval]."
Sounds like a huge task, yet he’s certain improvements will most deﬁnitely be made, due to vital funding the club has been campaigning for over many years, and Mr Cleary was on the Brookvale Committee to help push this.
"We’ve received $12.5 million from the federal government, and Mike Baird has given us $25 million. There’s another pot of $40 million that the state government has put in for the centre of education at Narrabeen, so I think I can help there as I’m in education.”
This funding will see 4500 new seats for the oval, more corporate boxes and one of Mr Cleary’s main focuses is to get membership numbers up again, after last year saw a "hopeless amount" which he puts down to the draw.
"At Brookvale, we had two Monday night games, and two Thursday games, so people were saying, 'Oh, we'll just watch those at home,” he explains.
Thankfully, ﬁve of the first seven games are home games, with several being more attractive for fans to come and watch at the beloved Brookvale Oval.
Manly was also plagued by injuries - 33 players participated in at least one first grade game last year, and there are 21 new players in the squad this year.
The former St Augustine's principal also mentions that due to the diminishing funding over the years - including from sponsorship and memberships - all NRL clubs are making losses at the moment. But he really hopes to change that.
"I love the Sea Eagles and I have a passion for the Northern Beaches,” he sums up as to why he has the drive for the big task ahead. He adds that the Sea Eagles up-and-comers to watch, like many league experts, are the Trbojevic brothers, Jake and Tom.
"They are such great role models for kids, and this is great as if any NRL players are mentioned in the press it’s in a negative way. They are the most exciting thing that’s happened to the club of late," he explains. "Jake - who's only 22 - has already been on the Australian National Rugby League Team. I sat with him at the Dally M Awards and he was in awe of so many of the players in the crowd. They are all his idols." And seeing he hasn't ever played NRL in his life - he's always enjoyed being in the crowd - maybe the young gun can teach Mr Cleary a Sea Eagles secret tactic or two.