OFFICIALS, players and guests of the WA Country Football League (WACFL) were out in force at Optus Stadium last weekend for an official function preceding the WAFL grand final.
The event provided an opportunity for major league sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions to be recognised for its 47 year contribution to WA country football and in particular its support of the annual country week carnival held in Perth each July.
Despite the carnival having to be cancelled at the 11th hour this year due to COVID-19 uncertainty (although rescheduled women's league and colts carnivals did go ahead last week), Nutrien Ag Solutions continued its support of the event, handing over a cheque for $100,000, the company's single biggest sponsorship outlay to any event in Australia.
Nutrien Ag Solutions region manager west Andrew Duperouzel said his company had to make a call early whether to continue its sponsorship for the 2021 season and there were three compelling reasons that for him made it an easy decision to do so.
"Firstly we have had 47 seasons of continuous support through Nutrien Ag Solutions and our legacy brands Landmark, AWB Landmark and Wesfarmers," Mr Duperouzel said.
"Secondly, our man Steve Wright (Nutrien Ag Solutions key account manager) has been the liaison between our company and country football for 18 years and coincidentally has also worked for our company for 47 years, so he has been a driving force behind our ongoing support.
"And having played in the country football carnival myself for Avon League in 1991, in fact I just caught up with one of my old team mates today, I know how important football is to people in the regions and how every club strives to make the country week championships.
"The third reason is our customers.
"Without your support we don't sponsor anything and I should add that our sponsorship is not just about football - we also sponsor other sports such as cricket, netball, hockey and tennis."
Mr Duperouzel said in recognition that many clubs were expected to have difficulty fundraising and boosting coffers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nutrien Ag Solutions decided to offer a new revenue incentive based on fertiliser sales.
"Our pledge was to pay one dollar per tonne on all new fertiliser orders to the purchaser's nominated club of choice," Mr Duperouzel said.
"And as Steve Wright will explain it has been extremely successful."
"Our target was $48,000, so 48,000 tonnes of new fertiliser orders," Mr Wright said.
"As of today we have been able to deliver $43,000 in cheques to 48 country locations, made up of 43 football clubs and five sports clubs, so that is a significant boost."
Cheques were presented to the six highest ranking shires on fertiliser revenue with the recipients all football clubs.
They were the Ravensthorpe Football Club, the biggest cheque of $5035, York Roos, Wanderers (Katanning), Boxwood Hills, Morawa and Railways Tigers (Albany).
The West Coast Poly player of the year award was presented to Dampier Sharks premiership player Guy Langdon, ahead of finalists McKenzi Nix, Boyup Brook Football Club and Fraser House, Gnowangerup Football Club.
It capped off a great year for the former Perth Demon who also won best on ground in the grand final, Dampier Football Club fairest and best and North Pilbara Football League fairest and best.
West Australian Football Commission (WAFC) CEO Michael Roberts, who also spoke at the function said "it has been an amazing month of football in WA and we are hoping to top it off today by breaking a 20-year record of more than 30,000 at today's WAFL grand final".
"We have also got the AFL Masters competition taking place in WA at the moment and before today's league grand final, in acknowledgement of our country clubs, we will have a parade of country footy champions involving 2500 children representing each of the premiership country clubs.
"Country people love their football and it brings a smile to their faces no matter what is happening at home on their farms.
"We are focused on improving our country sector and part of that was holding a board meeting in Geraldton to discuss ideas.
"Country football is already a leader in the mental health space but we are looking to do more, we recently signed a partnership agreement with Rio Tinto and have just received some government funding to boost programs in the Kimberley.
"We're working with East Fremantle to take a home game to Northampton as a fundraiser for Tropical Cyclone Seroja recovery and hope it may be the derby with South Fremantle.
"And it was great to see Bencubbin and Koorda both celebrate 100 year anniversaries this year," Mr Roberts said.
Being headquartered within its territory, Nutrien Ag Solutions also has a sponsorship connection with the South Fremantle Football Club and it appeared, by way of show of hands, that about 80pc of function guests were hoping for a Bulldogs victory.
But a bit like with the AFL grand final it was not the dog's day with 125-year-old Subiaco, storming home after a close contest in the first half, to win 13-7-85 over an inaccurate South Fremantle 5-11-41.
And the official attendance was 29,879 just shy of the 30,000 Mr Roberts had hoped for.