The Mitchell Years 2007 – 2009   

by Ronnie Mitchell
The period 2007-2009 was a very progressive one for the evolution of the Goannas and the Japan AFLcompetition. Like any good sporting team, a key to structure is having a good base and we were lucky enough to secure the support of Paddy Foley’s in Roppongi ( a central and conveniently located bar with live footy, Aussie beers and meat pies!!). We use this space to host many events including weekly live AFL footy games, committee meetings, post game celebrations and the end of year vote count and AGM. Neil day, Bar Manager, has been incredibly helpful and has always worked hard, along with his friendly staff, to ensure our events run smoothly and the beer tap never runs dry.
This period was also very important in terms of consolidating our sponsorship arrangements – in particular the important financial contributions of National Australia Bank (NAB) and Optia Partners. Other key sponsors who continue to provide us with invaluable contributions included Oakwood Luxury Apartments, Hardys, Fosters,  the Australian Embassy, Victorian & Western Australia State Government Trade & Business Offices, Meat & Livestock Australia, Qantas, Saloob and others.
Another key development of interest has been the increased strength of the Goannas playing squad from 2008-2009. Player representation at every game was tremendous and there was no shortage of support from the sidelines whereby an unlimited interchange bench ensures everyone gets a run. The comradary between team mates was also a stand out and I am proud to say that some of my best mates in Japan are Goannas!!
In terms of development of the Japan AFL league, I was lucky enough to be at the Goannas helm when the competition rapidly expanded in which it now includes a total of 7 domestic teams. 2009 was the first year in which the Nagoya Redbacks joined the JAFL and the Goannas enjoyed a round 1 away victory against the newcomers during a fun weekend footy trip to Nagoya. The Redbacks are similar to the Goannas and are mainly comprised of a sociable bunch of Aussie expats. The japanese university sides are rapdily improving and I dare say that it wont be long before the Goannas lose their mantle as king of the JAFL where we have taken out 4 successive JAFL Grand Final victories.
On the social side, 2007-2009 were very successfully off field for the Goannas and in particular the increasingly famous (or infamous) annual Black Tie ball held at the Aussie Embassy in Summer. This event is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the must-dos in the calendar year – its great value (tickets range between 10,000-12,000 yen, based on membership status, for 4 hrs of entertainment) which means tickets sell fast and the after party is one that no one should miss. The Goannas have a very tight relationship with the Australian Embassy and the Geelong-loving Ambassador, the Hon. Murray Mclean, who always drops by to say to say a few words.
The relationships described above are but a few that I have seen become solidified during my time as President of the Goannas. The emergence of new leadership within the Goannas has also been wonderful and the 2010 committee features a fantastic mix of all stalwarts (including the enigmatic Appsy) and fresh enthusiastic new blood – including the elegant touch of females taking on more senior roles within the executive.
In wrapping up it has been an absolute pleasure to watch the Goannas grow into the most well known Australian amateur sporting team in Japan and I look forward, with relish, to seeing the boys in red and white continue to help with the progression of AFL in Japan and have a bloody good time doing so……
Cheers & Beers
Ron Mitchell (Ex-Prez)