Melbourne Storm inducted four new Life Members this week at AAMI Park in front of current and former players and staff.
The Club also acknowledged two of the longest-serving volunteers and presented the John Ribot Leadership grant recipients.
Speaking at the first-ever standalone Life Members’ dinner, Storm CEO, Justin Rodski, said: “Being awarded Life Membership in any organisation is one of the greatest honours for an individual.”
“For those at Storm, it not only acknowledges the contribution they have made to our Club over a long period of time, but also reflects on the values they uphold. This is an award that is held in the highest regard.”
The four Life Members inducted on the night were:
Gerry Ryan OAM - Life Member #28
Board member and shareholder, Gerry Ryan, has been one of the most influential figures at Storm since taking ownership with current Chairman, Matt Tripp, and Bart Campbell in 2013.
While he holds various positions across many industries, Gerry’s contribution to Storm and Lightning over the last 10 years has helped shape the growth of both clubs to become the most successful in the NRL and Netball Australia.
He has driven high standards and the values of resilience and respect throughout his time that has been the cornerstone of his significant and extensive contribution to many other business interests, which has also been recognised with being made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2000.
Ross Patison - Life Member #29
Ross epitomises the values of Melbourne Storm. Starting his career as a volunteer in 2008, he would travel by train, tram and bus from Ballarat to get to work when the Club was based at Princess Park. Ross has a remarkable story of resilience and perseverance.
He took up a full-time position in the commercial department in 2009 before being awarded an opportunity in the Football department in 2010 under the guidance of General Manager Football, Frank Ponissi, where he held the title of Football Operations Manager and was a part of the 2012 Grand Final and 2013 World Club Challenge triumphs. Not comfortable and always wanting to learn, in 2017 Ross made the transition out of football and into the Finance department working as our Business Analyst and is now General Manager Operations. Ross is a trusted and valuable member of the club who has already made an enormous contribution in both the football and administration areas over his 15-years here at the Storm.
Kenny Bromwich - Life Member #30
The 200-game veteran has been an integral member of the Storm team since making his debut in Round 5, 2013.
With two NRL premierships and a World Club Challenge to his name, Kenny had to fight hard through the early years as part of the Storm ecosystem before becoming a regular senior player.
The New Zealand born forward has made 10 appearances on the international stage for the Kiwis and has joined the Māori side in the annual NRL All-Stars match in 2019, 2020 and 2022.
Kenny is one of only eight Melbourne Storm players to reach 200 NRL games.
Danielle Smith - Life Member #31
Danielle commenced with Melbourne Storm as Chief Financial Officer in 2011, before expanding her role to Chief Operating Officer in 2014.
Danielle was instrumental in the transition of the Club’s ownership from News Ltd in 2013 and helped to strengthen the club’s financial position in the years that followed, overseeing some of its most important strategic financial decisions.
This included diversification of the Club’s business into several non-football investments. One of the most significant investments was the introduction of Storm’s own netball team, Sunshine Coast Lightning, into the national Suncorp Super Netball league, enabling Storm to diversify into women’s professional sport, as well capitalising on Queensland as a secondary market.
Danielle relocated to Queensland to become the inaugural CEO of Lightning, experiencing immediate success including winning back-to-back premierships in the club’s first two seasons of 2017 & 2018, making it the most successful professional sporting club start-up in Australian history.
The strong community engagement and business relationships established through Lightning, played a key role in providing Storm with a solid base on the Sunshine Coast during the recent pandemic impacted seasons, and further solidified the importance of the region to Storm.
Danielle also served as a Storm Board Director for 8 years and its Company Secretary for 10 years.
Storm Founding Father and Life Member #4, John Ribot, said it was important to recognise those who had contributed to the club on and off the field.
“One of the important things about a club is not just what happens on the football field, it’s all the people who collectively put an effort in to make things work,” Ribot said.
“I really get excited about the people coming into our club. The quality of the people involved with this organisation, and to have something like this bestowed on you, is really important and should be cherished.
The journey that a lot of people have been on in this club - and it’s had many great moments and some really low moments - but I think as a club, it’s brought us together.John Ribot
Ribot also announced the recipients of the John Ribot Leadership grant. The grant, which provides financial support to inspire and support the leadership development of the people at Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning, was first introduced in 2021.
The two recipients of the grant were General Manager Operations, Ross Patison, and Sport Scientist, Rob Delves.
The recipients of the grant are eligible to receive up to $10,000 to put toward their development and training.
The Club also announced the recipients of a new award, the Volunteer Appreciation Award which recognises the hard work and time that a volunteer has contributed to the club.
The two Volunteer Appreciation Award winners were:
John White - John has been volunteering his wonderful services to the club since we played our first home game at Olympic Park against the North Sydney Bears. For over 24 years, John has been a regular fixture inside or around the Storm dressing room, working as the Sin Bin timekeeper, manning the doors or in recent seasons, looking after the players’ mobile phones. John delights the players and staff each home game bringing in some of his lovely wife Val’s beautiful cooking including her famous sausage rolls.
Ronnie Keighran - Ronnie has been a part of this club since day one, he works tirelessly in the sheds at all our away games in Sydney. He stays in the sheds during play, missing the game to ensure the sheds are setup ready for when the boys come back in for half time and full time. He has seen every player that has come through this club and has seen every premiership, all the highs and all the lows.
In our short history, approaching our 25-year anniversary next year, we have inducted 27 life members.
Full list of Life Members
Life Member 1, honoured in 2005 - Matt Geyer
Life Member 2, honoured in 2005 - Robbie Kearns
Life Member 3, honoured in 2006 - Chris Anderson
Life Member 4, honoured in 2006 - John Ribot
Life Member 5, honoured in 2007 - Greg Brentnall
Life Member 6, honoured in 2007 - Scott Hill
Life Member 7, honoured in 2008 - Dallas Johnson
Life Member 8, honoured in 2009 - Cameron Smith
Life Member 9, honoured in 2010 - Craig Bellamy
Life Member 10, honoured in 2010 - Stephen Kearney
Life Member 11, honoured in 2011 - Jonce Dimovski
Life Member 12, honoured in 2011 - Peter Robinson
Life Member 13, honoured in 2011 - Billy Slater
Life Member 14, honoured in 2012 - Alex Corvo
Life Member 15, honoured in 2012 - Cooper Cronk
Life Member 16, honoured in 2013 - Tony Devers
Life Member 17, honoured in 2013 - Ryan Hoffman
Life Member 18, honoured in 2015 - Ryan Hinchcliffe
Life Member 19, honoured in 2015 - Julie Cliff
Life Member 20, honoured in 2016 - Brian Phelan
Life Member 21, honoured 2016 - Kevin Proctor
Life Member 22, honoured 2017 - Frank Ponissi
Life Member 23, honoured 2018 - Jesse Bromwich
Life Member 24, honoured 2018 - Adam O'Brien
Life Member 25, honoured 2018 - John Donehue
Life Member 26, honoured 2019 - Dan Di Pasqua
Life Member 27, honoured 2019 - Will Chambers