Posts Tagged ‘Panthers’

The Stars Are Half As Bright – A Final Note On A Full Life

In General Mish-Mash on October 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

At 5:10pm on Wednesday 4th October the final breath was taken by my dad, Roger Cowan. A memorial service was held outdoors at Panthers, followed by a chance to share drinks and stories in, ironically*, The Ron Mulock OAM Room at the Panthers Events Centre.

(*If you don’t understand why this is ironic I recommend you try and get hold of a copy of Jenny Bentley’s Panthers Passion & Politics – The Roger Cowan Years.)

A big thank you to everyone who came along to the service, those sent us messages of condolence and support, and those who for a fleeting moment gave a thought to Roger.

A number of people asked for a copy of my eulogy. It’s too long to publish here but you can download a copy by clicking on the link below. There is also a link to Glenn Matthews’ message for Roger from Kona, Hawaii where he was competing in the Hawaiian Ironman 2017.

Download the Eulogy for Roger Cowan delivered by Max Cowan.

Download the Glenn Matthews Message about Roger Cowan from Kona Hawaii.

Scroll down for a video of 3 of the eulogies – it runs for 32 minutes.

Other information:

The Big Panther Has Gone But Will Never Be Forgotten – from prominent hospitality mover and shaker Jenny White of White Now!

Grace Funerals Tributes Page – read how others have paid tribute to Roger; leave a tribute of your own; you can even upload photos, videos, sound bites that may add to our memories.

Roger Cowan 2016

Roger in November 2016

The Fitz Files, Gus, and Note 31 which becomes a Catch 22!

In General Mish-Mash, Mish-Mash of Wisdoms on October 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The Fitz Files  is entertaining to read, although it has a bit of the smart-alec tone.

Peter Fitzsimons, the writer, wants to astonish us with his wit and judgement. I am sure he wants us to laugh – and I often do. Every Saturday he ridicules, berates, lampoons and occasionally he gives a pat on the back.

The Red Bandanna Gang

It’s divide & ridicule! You either stand on his side admonishing some foolish profiled person – or you find yourself feeling the splash of the spray.

He seems to have that “you’re either with me or agin me” credo. A credo often surfacing in team sport.

Create a strong bond within the playing group – an unbreakable sense of duty to each other, potent emotional connections – and you have a powerful force. Some do this in ways that are inclusive and constructive. Others by exclusion, defining the entire rest of the world as a common enemy.

Fitz shepherds people into gangs that are out to own the morally high ground and to whip up indignation over anything he deems is deserving. Derision, outrage, and ridicule replace gang violence and street battles … but he does want you to join his gang.

In this weeks Fitz Files, Gus Gould is in the crosshairs. Here is the piece – Rabs! Gus! Your pokie rant’s a bit suss.

Which is interesting because Gus’ MO is very similar to Fitz’s – you’re one of us or you’re one of them.

His teams bond strongly.  They also develop a shared consciousness that the rest of the world is out to kill them.

Not just the opposing teams.

Anyone who is not pulling on a jersey. You’re either in the team or you are an enemy – enemies include administrators, accountants, boards, the sales teams, sponsors, events organisers, the media … you name it, if it can be a distraction, it is an enemy. There is a rich harvest for “motivation by seige”.

Of course by “team” I actually mean the more exclusive and restrictive modern sports entity  – “the playing group”. A concept undoubtedly developed because the “team” is far too inclusive … and far too restrictive when looking for enemies that can catalyse potent responses.

As I said, in the Fitz File world – you are either part of the lampooning and derision … or you are, by default, being lampooned or derided for not taking part. Gus has been “Fitzed”!

Gus can fight his own battles – very, very well. In a euphemistic nutshell, Fitz thinks Gus’ position as spokesperson on mandatory pre-commitment is imprudent and untenable. Undoubtedly Gus would disagree. It’s worthy of an argument I guess.

But, by firing bullets at Gus, Fitz also fires bullets at Panthers. He does this by a misleading and unfair misuse of numbers. This is how myth gets created. Fitz quotes Panthers 2010 Annual Report – creating a sense of credibility – what can he say, it’s Panthers own figures. So let’s look at the figures he uses:

2010 Revenue: $154m – Fitz Files got this right.

2010 Revenue from Poker Machines: $91m – another tick for Fitz.

2010 Profit/Loss: nearly $11m loss. The figure is correct. But the outrage from Fitz – “How on earth can this happen?” – is over the top. The losses are explained in the report and, and anyway, it is not unusual for businesses to post losses – even as high as around 7% of revenue. Especially when they have massive amounts allocated to depreciation.

Clearly, it is not good position … but “how on earth” can this be a jaw dropper given the information contained in the report.

And he doesn’t mention, of course, that these figures represent the aggregation of figures from 14 different venues across the state.

And then he comes out with this:

“What on earth falls under the $18.65m annual report entry “other expenses”.?”

I guess the red bandana momentarily slipped over his eyes and he did not see the “31” at the intersection of the row labeled “other expenses” and the column headed “Notes”. So, he did not look up Note 31 which lists 28 items that contributed to other expenses. Note 31 tells you “what on earth”, Fitzy.

He compares the percentage of “other expenses” with other clubs … but what he should be comparing is the item “other expenses” that appears in note 31 … that figure was $2.475m or 1.6% of revenue. Fitz’s figure had it at 12% of revenue. The exaggeration to create affect is only 650%.

Next he makes the amazing comment … amazing because he has already alluded to a big loss.

“And how come with all that moolah only $617,000 could be found for the juniors.”

Ahem! All that moolah!! Didn’t you just tell us they lost 11 million smackeroos? So, if losing money gives you heaps of moolah to spread around in acts of largesse, why would anyone worry about a GFC? Or stock market crashes. 

And your suggestion Fitz, would be to what?

Provide the juniors with $1.6m and post a $12m loss instead of an $11m loss. Geez, if that is so easy, why not give the juniors $50.6m? What’s an extra few mill between friends. I guess by your logic this will mean they have even more moolah to toss around.

You belted Panthers for making a loss and you belt them for not giving away more. That’s some catch that Catch 22! 

Maybe Panthers could have stopped the support for initiatives in the regions of Bathurst, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, or Albury and shift that “moolah” so the kids of Penrith benefit?

Jesus, how does Panthers get out of the iron grip of admonishment cast by someone whose arguments have the logical progession of the paradoxical works of M.C. Escher.

Ascending? Descending? Both - The Fitz Files in Art.

And it is not just Fitz who suffers from this …

Just about every argument about clubs these days has an extraordinary skew – almost to the point of being paradoxical. The skew mainly comes from looking at the revenue figures and treating them as profits.

If rational dialogue is to be had about the relevance of clubs in our communities, then this skewing has to stop. Any business needs to be modelled in a way that is sustainable and one that can be planned around – this can’t be done by creating myth.

Back to the Fitz attack:

Fitz, there is plenty of ammunition available to fire at Panthers. Why pull blanks and he dress it up as live ammo. I can’t understand it, there are exocet missiles just laying around waiting to be armed and launched.

Interestingly, again there is a similarity in the way Gus has approached the mandatory pre-commitment issue that has got under his skin enough for him to get under everyone else’s skin. Gus’ preference seems to be to throw rocks at the enemy. In this case those who advocate pre-commitment as a salve for problem gambling. Again, surprising because Gus is capable of delivering powerful and coherent argument. Instead he weakens his position by resorting to playing the man (and woman) instead of the issue of finding solutions for gamblers.

It would serve everyone better – especially problem gamblers – if commentators, these 2 included, examined the facts more carefully and toned down their exaggeration, personal attacks and histrionics.

The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

In General Mish-Mash on October 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve mishmashed!!

I haven’t been idle, I have been mishmashing but it is not material I would like to unleash on unsuspecting readers. My mishmashing has been like swimming in a pool of quicksand – lots of thrashing only to sink. Man, how simple it is for subterranean demons to emerge from the depths – a single chance encounter can tip the boat.

Time to lighten up.

My home town, Penrith (NSW), has been the focus of attention during the Sydney Architectural Festival.

Last Saturday, the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House was host to a symposium entitled – The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

The symposium, and the work presented, places Penrith firmly in the sights of serious attempts to shift the nature of cities located on the urban fringes. Fringe cities. Cities that are sub-urban.

Barry O’Farrell, NSW Premier & Minister for Western Sydney, opened the symposium. And Liz Ann Macgregor  – the wonderful Director of Sydney’s MCA and, more importantly, Panthers Fan – chaired the symposium.

Campement Urbain presented a bold and ambitious vision.

To me, the detail of that plan is not as important as the function it plays.

It establishes new ways of thinking about the suburban city – certainly Penrith but also as a generalisation. It offers a new standard, a new self-belief. The process positions suburban residents to breach the limits and standards of property developers, to take control and demand new standards.

The current CBD of Penrith, looking west. Can the inhabitants take control of its future?

Most importantly it serves to create different processes and drivers of urban & suburban development.

The ideas and the way they have been developed are much more than creative and visionary. They deliver a heightened sense of democracy and a shift in the paradigm of power.

When I first met with Sylvie Blocher (Campement Urbain) in 2005 – and helped her decide to work with Panthers – I had no idea it would lead to focusing on such important issues. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist who is based in St Denis on the fringes of Paris.

Our meeting was part of Panthers involvement in the C3West project – a project that sought to harvest the potential that rested in the convergence of commercial, community, and cultural endeavours. The details of this project can be found in the publication The Art of Engagement edited by Elaine Lally, Ien Ang, and Kay Anderson.

I knew then, back in 2005 – and it remains true – that Panthers had to seek out new paradigms, new ways of operating, new images and perspectives of itself, it needed to get a grip on a future that was shutting down its relevance. This is still needed.

Sylvie had prepared material that spoke to the Panthers concept of The Club of the Future. The material she delivered was both insightful and confronting – it was called The Future of Panthers, Panthers of the Future. Momentarily Panthers showed an exciting willingness to be brave and crazy.

From this point we unleashed Campement Urbain on the local community – they presented to key stakeholders who have an interest in Panthers important landholding at Penrith – those stakeholders being Panthers, the Penrith City Council, and Panthers’ partner, ING.

Once again, the aim was to shift. Shift the thinking, shift the image, shift the meaning and the rules … shift the future.

Small beginnings and shaky starts can deliver wonderful results – all you need is patience, passion, resilience, care, and attention. That’s all!!! Anyway, I feel so proud to have played a part in getting my home town starring on stage under Australia’s greatest, most famous, most beautiful and most controversial roof.

It seemed appropriate that the symposium was held in the Utzon Room, after all Utzon’s design caused multiple, and big, shifts – not the least of which was to our largest city.

Campement Urbain is a creative collaborative group. The participants vary according to the project. For this project Campement Urbain is Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune, and Tim Williams. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist. Francois is an architect and urban planner based in Paris, and Tim is an architect and urban planner based in Sydney.

A post – Penrith par le Nepean – A French Vision for Penrith – in the The Preston Institute blog provides some specific details of the Campement Urbain proposition.


In General Mish-Mash on September 29, 2011 at 9:59 am

My heart dropped when I read the headline on page 15 of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.

Panthers dudded us

I never, ever thought I’d see such a headline.

And now, today, there is a suggestion that the intention all along was to dud the good people, who are the West Epping bowlers, of their property.

This belies the honourable actions of those who made the decision for the West Epping Bowling Club and Panthers Group to merge.

It is true that West Epping Bowling Club joined the Panthers organisation with a healthy bank balance, a well position land property, and a belief that it [the amalgamation] would mean both security and improvements.

They became West Epping Panthers … and they were excited about their future in a bigger and (apparently) more robust family of clubs.

Not so long after the amalgamation was completed, there was a significant – a dramatic – change in the tax regime on poker machine revenues. As a result, proposed spending on the West Epping was placed on hold – it became impossible to finance.

It was clear that things would be  difficult but there was confidence and optimism built on the sound and shared values, and open communications.

I know many will justify the West Epping closure with cries that these are hard times, and the future looks even harder. Hard times demand hard decisions. It is an economic reality that these sorts of things occur.

But there are 2 points that need to made about that:

  1. Process – the Panthers philosophy in the past, when it was a leader in the industry, was to keep the highest priority on preserving dignity, behaving respectfully of others, & being honourable & trustworthy. Even the hardest decision, decisions that were at times bitter, were implemented with the values respect, dignity, & trust resonating.
  2. Economic Imperatives – have dominated the club industry for a some years now. This is one of the main reasons there is a disconnect between clubs and the general public. And especially with the younger generation who are quick and alert in detecting a lack of authenticity. Professor Hing expressed it very well a few years ago:

This change in focus [by NSW clubs] from social to economic imperatives has aroused public and political scepticism about the clubs’ actual distinctiveness from profit-based organisations.

The rising dominance of economic imperatives is great, great pity because the club model is a very strong enterprise model, capable of delivering enormous benefit to communities.

There are some clubs that have adjusted really well to the changing community needs but the one hat was once the innovative leader has allowed to its focus to trip it up to the point that rather enhancing the community it is accused loudly of dudding it.

I don’t know what is most depressing – the fact that the West Epping bowlers have been dudded, or helplessly standing by and watching the decline and decay of  what was once a great community organisation.

Note: Until last year I was the Marketing Manager at Panthers. I have tried to write this in terms of general principles rather than the specific issues that are impacting the governance & management of Panthers Group.