It was a humble sign on a local pub door that got Michael Zammit thinking, ‘We need to form a new footy club’.
So, he and a few friends did just that – the St Clair Comets Junior Rugby League Club in western Sydney enjoyed their first season in 1984 with four teams and 50 players. They won two premierships that year.
Now in 2021 with Zammit still chasing parents, registering players, coaches, managers, trainers 37 years on, the Comets have grown to 55 teams and 900 players.
It all began back in the early 1980s, when Zammit refused to give up on his idea and for that persistence, dedication and progress, he won the NSWRL Volunteer of the Year Award for the Western Sydney Region.
“Forty odd years ago we moved to St Clair and I had three kids ready to play and there was the St Clair-Colyton Football Club and I was on that committee” he said.
“One night in the freezing cold, we’d gone to the local pub for a meeting and on the door there was a sign saying ‘No Meeting Tonight’ and in those days that sign was quite frequently used.
“So, me and another chap were sitting down having a beer and I said, ‘We need to build a new club’. I went home that night and the next day my mate rang and said, ‘Were you serious?’ and I said, ‘You bet’ and that’s how the club began.”
Initially Zammit received opposition from Colyton members saying the area wasn’t big enough for two clubs.
“Maybe in those days it wasn’t but we used to have chook raffles at a local shopping centre every Saturday morning – six for $1,” he said.
“Selling frozen chickens was how we got our club finances going.”
He wrote to the Illawarra Steelers to ask if the club could adopt their logo with their red, white and black colours but he received no reply.
Driving with his wife Lynne around the Blacktown area she noticed the Comet transport company depot and said, ‘I’ve got it – we’ll call ourselves the Comets’ so the logo with the ball streaking over the goalposts was born.
Lynne passed away in 2014 but she lived long enough to her kids play for the Comets – her daughter Kasey was the first female player in 1986 – and her grandkids.
Zammit has continued on because he loves Rugby League and his family’s connection with it.
“Seeing the sport grow, the club grow, it keeps the kids off the street,” he said.
“And we welcome everyone no matter what your background.
“If you sign up, you’ll get a game. We don’t just play for premierships – they’re nice – but we just want to see the kids in the area play with their friends and have some fun.”
Zammit was nominated by one of the Comets team managers, Lisa Mitchell.
“For a club as big as St Clair Comets JRLC boasting one of the largest in the Penrith district, it amazes me that one man is sole register,” Mitchell said.
“Granted he gets help here and there, but predominantly all the work is done by Michael and it’s always done in the most professional way possible.”