Ditchburn: Thunder will benefit from change

PEEL Thunder president John Ditchburn addressed club members and sponsors on Monday night, reiterating the message the Thunder will benefit from the new five-year partnership deal with the Fremantle Dockers.

Announced last Wednesday, the partnership will see all Fremantle-listed players eligible to play for only the Peel Thunder in the WAFL competition.

All West Coast-listed players will represent East Perth under the new deal.

Ditchburn said the announcement did not mean immediate success.

“This is not going to be a quick fix for us,” he said.

“We would like to think we would be around the finals.”

Ditchburn said as a club, the Thunder failed to retain players with a majority relocating to Perth to pursue better career opportunities.

“This is no quick answer to a premiership,” he said.

“It’s something as a club we have struggled with, to maintain our young guys, because we don’t have a university,” he said.

“We’ve struggled through lack of success to attract players to our football club.”

With the announcement ensuring the Thunder will have Fremantle-listed players to choose from for their side each week, Ditchburn said his leadership group had been addressed in regards to selection.

“When we spoke to our leadership group, their major concern was exactly [Fremantle players getting priority game time] and about the numbers that would be playing; speaking with Steve Rossich [Fremantle CEO] and Chris Bond [Fremantle football manager], they find it far easier for their fellas to play reserves in the partnership than when they were spread over nine clubs,” he said.

“Our playing group needs to know that; they are the ones who are going to be unhappy.”

Ditchburn did concede it would be hard for his club to retain players Fremantle recruit and later delist.

Describing his chances as “very limited” Ditchburn said any players on the Thunder list delisted by Fremantle then become an out-of-zone player and said it would be “difficult to retain them”.

He said in the long run, the deal would help the club which had received three league level wooden spoons in the past four seasons.

“For us on the field and off the field it gives us an opportunity to become more competitive,” he said.

Ditchburn assured those in attendance a take-over was not on the cards.

“There has been no sign of a takeover, we will not lose our identity, we will not lose our jumper or our colours,” he said.

The Fremantle-listed players will train once a week with the Thunder under the new arrangement.

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