Last Wednesday 16th March at MacLaurin Hall, Sydney University, a large contingent of the SUFC family gathered together to celebrate the long service of David Mortimer as Club President. 

Past and current players, sponsors, coaches, parents, board members, supporters, volunteers and staff all joined together the hear from some of Sydney University’s finest including Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence and past SUFC Captain and current Head Coach Tim Davidson, all speaking so highly of David and his incredible contribution. 

As a gift to David, all Super Rugby and Wallabies in the room were asked to gather for a ‘team shot’ to demonstrate the huge success David saw and contribute to in his time as Club President. See the image below. 

As part of the night was also the launch of the new season, with Tim Davidson announcing his team for Round 1 of the Shute Shield. 

Bruce Corlett then highlighted so aptly incredible influence of the woman behind the man – Barbara Mortimer – who was a pillar of strength throughout his time as President, before newly appointed SUFC President Angus Stuart made a toast to David. 

After hearing from David himself speak about his time as President, and the many people he worked with throughout his time and the successes he saw, the Master of Ceremonies for the night, Andrew Coorey, led the audience in the Club Song, accompanied by the St Andrew’s College Piper. 

It was an excellent night to celebrate an outstanding leader of the club – and although he may not be President, you can rest assure he will still be there supporting the boys on game day! Once a Student, always a Student!

NB – Below is an article written by Graham Croker which featured in the event program on the night.

David Mortimer, SUFC’s longest-serving President stepped down this year after 16 years in office. He’s left a telling legacy, as Graham Croker writes.

Defining the success of a sporting club, particularly a university-based club that evolved from an amateur playing ethos, can be undertaken several ways.

One would be to look at the number of club championships and premierships it has achieved across the grades and Colts. In that case, Sydney University Football Club has enjoyed unparalleled success since 2000, with 13 Club Championships, 13 Colts Club Championships, 28 premierships across the grades, and 36 Colts premierships across the grades.

“Winning the Club Championship is as important as winning First Grade,” says Tim Davidson, who should know, having captained First Grade to seven titles during the Mortimer reign: “A First Grade title is the icing on the cake for a club. We missed out on the Shute Shield last season but looking at the bigger picture, we won four of the seven titles on offer and that is outstanding. We should be proud and happy of that success.”

1st Grade team for Round 1 to take on Eastwood

David Mortimer suggests success might also be gauged by Sydney Rugby Union moves in recent years to curb SUFC’s dominance of the premier rugby competition in Sydney.

The Points System, where players are graded out of 10 and teams are limited to a set number they can collectively field, was introduced four seasons back to stem the number of Super Rugby players returning to play for SUFC come finals time.

A Salary Cap was introduced last season, although it has no effect on SUFC, which has produced 26 Wallabies since 2000.

“We’re playing in the only sporting competition in the world which has both a points system and a salary cap,” Mr Mortimer says. “And that’s a result of the success of our recruitment policy and the quality of our players and coaches. They have delivered and administrators are trying to punish them for their efforts.”

Mr Mortimer said SUFC’s success also hinged on a mighty band of volunteers and sponsors. “Clubs don’t win that many premierships without massive support from volunteers, support staff and a strong committee heading up the organisation,” he said. “It has made my job that much more rewarding, so I again say thank you to everyone who has been involved at SUFC, and to our sponsors, particularly Buildcorp, Trivett and DHL.”

And to maintain SUFC’s success, the junior rugby program was initiated under the Mortimer reign, with teams from Under 11 to Under 18 competing. Last season saw the first junior graduate through to the Colts ranks. Mr Mortimer is also proud that the coaching ranks for the past few seasons have been swelled by ex-SUFC players.

David Mortimer congratulated and thanked by MC Andrew Coorey

Andrew Wennerbom, Mr Mortimer’s vice-president during his 16-year reign as president, has another view on defining success.

“When I first approached David about the presidency I told him one of the greatest joys of the role was being inspired by the potential and aspirations of young men,” Andrew says. “To this day David maintains a passion to learn from each generation of players, volunteers and supporters and is equally in awe of their talents as we are in awe of his.

“The penultimate chapter of the club’s history, A Sense of Union, is titled Missed Opportunities and the final chapter of Dr Tom Hickie’s book posed the most pressing issue facing SUFC was whether it could adapt its administration and find a role for a university club in a professional era.

“David’s leadership of the club over the past two decades has ensured that no player has been handicapped in their endeavour to be the best footballer and person they can be or rue the opportunity to achieve their potential. The pathway for players to achieve representative honours has been preserved alongside the best amateur ideals of sport in the most professional Shute Shield club environment.

“David still considers it to be his privilege to have served the club and remains as humble and understated about his contribution to the success of the club as any volunteer.

“Frankly any other organisation or sporting team that has enjoyed the success SUFC has under ‘Morts’ would be up itself. Instead the esprit de corps and commonality of a virtuous desire to succeed graciously dominates the club.

“David’s contribution can never be quantified because his legacy will endure for decades.”

Perhaps success breeds success.