Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 9:08 AM by Sean Cowan

West Perth Football Club’s Brett Raponi will go down as the fourth-longest serving president in the club’s history after deciding not to stand for re-election at the upcoming poll.

The outspoken president, who has held the position for eight years since first being elected in 2008, said he was stepping down to focus on his family and life outside of football.

But he would remain a member of the club he had supported since he was a child and would consider taking on other roles in football in the future.

“I will still have a strong interest in the West Perth Football Club,” he said. “I have many friends there and our family will continue to sponsor Jay Van Berlo. I’ll continue to attend social functions where it’s possible.

“I know I have strong support within the West Perth community and to not seek re-election is a decision that I’ve made based on a number of factors, including the strong position of the club at this time.”

Raponi’s decision means former vice president Scott Ballem will be elected president unopposed.

During Raponi’s eight seasons at the helm of Western Australia’s oldest football club, he received heavy backing from members and supporters for not being afraid to say what he thought about the club and the WAFL competition.

At times, this put the 50-year-old at odds with the WAFC, especially during the row over Channel 9’s lucrative sponsorship deal with the club.

Raponi said the deal was one of the highlights of his time as president, along with the club’s 2013 grand final victory over arch rivals East Perth and the strong relationship that was built with the club’s district.

“It’s very humbling to have been president of this football club. It was never a position that I set out to have. I never even set out to be an administrator at the club, but the chance presented itself to join the board after I moved into the northern suburbs in the late 1990s and the importance of holding this position was not lost on me, but probably means a lot to my family and friends.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my wife Sharon and the kids. She provided an amazing amount of support to allow me to hold this position, especially when I made myself available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that allowed me to achieve what I have for the football club. Sharon, whilst probably embarrassed at receiving such a compliment, deserves as much credit for the success of the club as myself.”

Raponi said he was pleased to hand the mantle over to Ballem and a new board that faced similar challenges to those faced by sporting clubs across WA.

“The next board is going to have to work hard to connect with the West Perth football community and to bring in new sponsors, but those opportunities do exist. They will need to engage with the wider community,” he said.

The club’s longest-serving president was Dick Fletcher, who served for 16 years from 1946-1962. Richard Barrett held the position for 14 years at the turn of last century, while Len Roper was president for 13 years from 1968-1981.

Raponi said he was proud to claim his place in the club’s history, which was an important part of the social fabric of Western Australia.

“Which is why I cannot see an argument at this stage as to why we should change our name,” he said. “There is no champion for a name change that has come to my attention other than the City Of Joondalup.

“While I have never been opposed to talking to the membership about how they feel, it’s been made abundantly clear in recent times on talkback radio, through various media outlets and in direct consultation that they want the name to stay as it is. My position as president was that I had to represent the members.”

Before becoming president in late 2008, Raponi served as a director for three years. He was vice-president for two of those years.

An election will be held for the six vacant directors’ positions, with Chris Erikson, Rob Jackson and Richard Homsany seeking re-election. Former league players Peter Cutler, Russell Ellen and Rob Hunt have nominated, as have Joondalup Women’s Football Club president Dave Burton and long-time club members Owen Douglas and Brent Howard.

Bec Pearce and Steve Morgan are not seeking re-election.

Ballots have been posted to members and must be received at the club by Monday, 12 December at 5pm.