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Perry - Team manager
Perry – amongst our life members at the ESAFC 75 year Jubilee
We’ve just had confirmation that we can start training, so we thought it appropriate to look at some members who may not have the profile of our elite members, but who have been crucial ‘players’ in our club's rich history.
This week we take a look at Perry Gallagher, a life member who was played a significant management role in maintaining Eastern Suburbs as a footballing entity during our ‘darkest days’.
After relegation from the National League in 1979, our club lost its mojo and we were no longer New Zealand’s ‘darling’ football club. As a result, Eastern Suburbs tumbled down the premier divisions and our playing numbers dwindled during the 1980s.
Fortunately, Perry was one of the good guys who stepped up to the challenge charting a course for Eastern Suburbs through our challenging ‘dark days’. After the halcyon decades of the 1950s to the 1970s, Eastern Suburbs lacked finances & were no longer a glamour club during the 1980s–1990s. Without the few good men like Perry whose efforts & belief in Eastern Suburbs which kept our club going, our club may well have disappeared from the landscape.
During the early 1980s, we searched for initiatives to survive and help develop our players. One of the initiatives included a ‘feeder club’ strategy where Eastern Suburbs would provide a pathway for our more talented players to the Mt Wellington Football Club, during the 1980’s Mt Wellington were still a strong National League club. Following the 1980s, and two subsequent amalgamations, Mt Wellington FC is now part of the Uni-Mt-Bohemians club. The Mount (as they were called) had previously been one of our club’s arch-rivals and during the early 1970 National League, thousands of fans would cram onto the Newmarket Park terraces to watch the two clubs battle it out for titles, trophies and bragging rights. The feeder club strategy was short-lived and we parted ways. However Mt Wellington was still keen to assimilate our club, and their management team sent a fax (remember the fax?) instructing we were to merge with Mt Wellington, this was the first the Eastern Suburbs management team had heard of such an amalgamation! Obviously the unilaterally mandated merger did not proceed.
A serious blow was dealt with our member numbers and our development plans with the defection of nearly half of our junior & youth players to the University club (the ‘Uni’ component of the current ‘Uni-Mt-Bohemians’ club). This defection was led by a small number of parents of our youth players (thanks for the loyalty), we understand a key motivator in the defection was that University FC had clubrooms while we, at that point, did not. But with Perry, along with a few others who were steering the once-proud club, would not capitulate. Perry helped our club focus on our junior and youth players. He championed the concept of bringing our young players through the Eastern Suburbs grades and into our senior team, a pioneer in our pathways thinking. Today’s Eastern Suburbs has taken pathway thinking and enabled it to the highest level, our club now provides the best and most resourced player pathway strategy in New Zealand.
Today Eastern Suburbs has re-emerged as a forward-thinking and arguably the strongest football club in New Zealand. It was due to people like Perry who won’t give up on our club during its dark days that allowed this to happen, making them true Lilywhite Legends!