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Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:18 AM
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THE West Perth Football Club finished off 2017 with the Annual General Meeting inside the new sparkling new facilities at HBF Arena with Brett Raponi, Terry Stokesbury, Jay van Berlo and Aaron Black all inducted as life members.

Black and van Berlo, both 2013 premiership players and Breckler Medal winners, earned their right for life membership during the 2017 WAFL season by reaching respective 150-game milestones, while Stokesbury was given the honour after his long-time service.

Meanwhile, long-serving former club president Brett Raponi was voted a life member of the West Perth Football Club.

Raponi, who served as president from 2009 to 2016, was instrumental in securing the club’s new headquarters at HBF Arena and was perhaps best known for his forthright views on the future of the WAFL and the controversial host club arrangement.

In accepting the honour at the club’s annual general meeting, Raponi said he had the time of his life during his time on the board.

"I am proud and privileged to have played a small part in the rich history of the club," Raponi said.

"This means a lot to me. It’s a great honour to be recognised amongst the greats of West Perth."

Raponi first joined the board of directors in 2004 and was the club’s vice-president from 2006-2008.

He was also chairman of the WAFL Council of Presidents in 2014 and 2015.

But he grew up in Swan Districts heartland in Lockridge, catching a bus to Bassendean then a train into the city and then running to Leederville to watch his beloved Cardies as a child.

One of his first jobs was selling Westside Football newspapers at West Perth games, which allowed him to cheer on his heroes, including John Duckworth, Wayne Dayman and Paul Mifka.

In later years, he was in awe of the abilities of Steve Trewhella and Jason Salecic and, more recently those of Aaron Black.

Raponi’s greatest achievement as president, aside from being one of the men behind the club’s 2013 league premiership, was probably his ability to secure sponsorship and funding.

He was instrumental in securing AFL funding of $350,000 to build the new auditorium and gymnasium in 2010, private funding of $40,000 to publish Brian Atkinson’s most recent history book about the club in 2008 and a three-year $300,000 sponsorship deal from Channel 9.

That deal put him at odds with the WAFC, which was concerned it would affect the WAFL’s broadcast deal with Channel 7.

Most importantly, Raponi was able to help deliver funding approval from the State Government for $8.5 million for the new facilities at Joondalup.

The club has now moved into the new building, which recently hosted its first official function.