THIRTY-four years ago in an Irish pub in Victoria Park, Michael Manning answered ‘yes’ to a mate without knowing what the question was.
Since that day, Mr Manning (73), of Parkwood, has volunteered every week to support the Shamrock Rovers Football Club.
Earlier this month, Mr Manning’s thousands of hours of unpaid work were recognised with a certificate of recognition at the Volunteer Service Awards.
“A meeting was held in the outside bar and I walked in. I was late and someone said ‘there is the president’ and I thought it was a joke at the time,” he reminisced.
Since then, Mr Manning has spent about 13 hours each week attending to club business.
The Shamrock club, based at Harold Rossitor Park in East Victoria Park, has grown in both talent and membership since its inception.
“We started off in fifth division, working our way up to premier league. We won the amateur cup several times.
“Four years ago, we decided to go semi-professional,” Mr Manning said.
There were 18 players when the club was first formed.
Now it has three teams, 60 players and 90 social members, with 100-strong crowds attending home games.
Mr Manning said it was difficult to find people to volunteer on committees.
“The young people just want to come down and play a game and don’t want to be involved in anything else after that.”
Despite his on-field involvement being limited to several stints in goals, Mr Manning said the friendships he had made at the soccer club kept him coming back.
“I have met some great people, not just at the club but from other clubs as well. We have remained good friends all along.”
Mr Manning was one of 104 volunteers honoured at the awards on May 7 for contributing more than 3790 years of service to the community.
Volunteering Minister Mick Murray presented the awards at Crown Towers in the lead-up to National Volunteer Week last week.