Heart and soul; it’s a term thrown around a bit, but it’s the perfect way of describing Anne Cornish’s relationship to the Palm Beach Currumbin Football Club.
Cornish has given thousands of hours to the Lions, starting as a junior committee member, right though to the senior secretary, a role she has now been in for six years.
The Cornish/Palm Beach connection all started 12 years ago.
After moving from Melbourne to Elanora, and with son Tyler, 8 years old at the time, looking for a footy club, Anne’s brother-in-law, Dean Olarenshaw, got them down to Salk Oval.
A few years later, now entrenched in the club, Anne and her husband, Mark, felt the time for talk was over.
“At the start we just watched Tyler play for the first couple of years, but when he was 12, both Mark and I got involved in the junior committee,” Cornish said.
“I was one of the people who thought, well instead of speaking about it, actually go and do something, so that’s how I got involved. There were about four or five of us who did, and I have never left since.”
Three years later, with Tyler now 15 and pushing for senior selection, Anne stepped up to the senior committee.
“I went onto the senior committee because I wanted that liaison between junior and senior clubs to happen, and I knew that Tyler was moving up soon, the relationship wasn’t very good at the time I must say, but when I moved up I never wanted to look back,” she said.
It wasn’t long until Cornish took the reins as secretary, and the club hasn’t missed a beat since.
There’s a pretty simple motivating factor behind what she does.
“I love it. I’ve got a passion for the game and for the club,” Cornish said.
“It’s a lot of work, but you don’t do it if you don’t love it.”
Her work doesn’t go unnoticed by the playing group either. The gratitude and respect they show here is another huge factor in her dedication.
“I also do it because I find the players to be really appreciative. They are really good to me, they buy me a gift every year and they are always saying thank you. If they weren’t nice about it, I don’t think I would do it,” she said.
“They would do anything for me, and I go out of my way to help them with whatever they need.”
Although Anne puts in endless hours for the football club, her family never suffers, the Palm Beach Currumbin Football Club is something they are all passionate about.
Son Tyler plays in the seniors when not on NEAFL duties; husband Mark is the treasurer, and daughter Casey helps out in whatever way possible.
“It’s a family thing, my daughter also comes in and volunteers and helps cook meals for the boys on Thursday nights, works in the beer tent on a Saturday, so it’s something we all love. We all go to every game together when we can, and we can talk about it together,” she said.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Cornish’s open their doors to any player who needs a roof over their head when moving to the club.
“We have a lot of players come and live with us as well. If they come from interstate they come and stay with us until they find their feet,” Cornish said.
“We probably have two to three boys here at any given time, so I’ve got two here at the moment, and they love me like a mum, they go and come back, and then their parents come and stay here when they come up.
“I think they like it as well because they go into a family environment. We just look after them; they are part of the family. Probably six or seven boys in the seniors or reserves today have lived with us over the last couple of years.”
Cornish, a successful business owner in her own right, was able to bring that skill-set into the club, which has been a huge factor in its progression into the QAFL.
That transformation is the biggest difference from when she started to now.
“The big change for us has been moving from the Pineapple Cup or the Allied Pickfords Cup, up to the QAFL. That’s been the biggest and probably the most rewarding part for me,” she said.
“I saw that as a lot of hard work, something that made us a lot more professional, a lot more strategic, and allowed us to put the pillars in place, and I feel like I have contributed to that.”
The highlight of her time in the maroon and yellow isn’t a hard one to guess.
“To win the premiership in 2013 was one of the highlights of my life. I have had two children, got married, have a successful business, and it was one of the highlights,” Cornish said.
“I still think of it, I have still got the medal hanging on my wall, visible to me everyday. I have seen AFL premierships, and it’s great on the day but my contribution to that was nil. This one I worked toward, I might not have played in the game, but I worked to get there, and the boys dedicated the win to me, which was even more special.
“I’m not saying it’s better than the kids but it’s up there, in the top five or six of my life that’s for sure.”
Looking into the crystal ball, Cornish can’t imagine a life without football just yet.
“I say at the end of every season, gee it would be nice to have time off, but I’m telling you a couple of weeks after I’m ready to go again,” she said.
“I’m not a big sporty person who plays my own sports so to not have something on Saturday and Sunday, don’t get me wrong it’s nice to have a break, but to not have something for six months, there is definitely a void.”
Football clubs wouldn’t be football clubs without people like Anne Cornish, and Palm Beach Currumbin certainly wouldn’t be in the position it is now if it wasn’t for her hard work, dedication, and commitment over the last 12 years.
Heart and soul.
Don’t forget, nominations are now open for the 2015 AFL Queensland Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards. Click here to nominate
By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles