SIX months after he was sacked for calling a female journalist a "good sort", Peter "Zorba" Peters marched back into the Manly Leagues Club last night to claim a seat on the Sea Eagles board - alongside the very directors who fired him.
In a remarkable power shift, Sea Eagles chief operating officer David Perry will now report to the man he axed as media manager at the end of last season - ending a colourful 40-year career as a player and administrator.
In a drama-charged night, directors were left stunned as Peters walked into the boardroom to take the seat normally occupied by his multi-millionaire brother-in-law Rick Penn.
"I am delighted to be back at the club I love and in the thick of the action," Peters declared. Penn stepped aside to concentrate on his international business interests and nominated Peters as his replacement just an hour before the board meeting, catching rival directors by surprise.
"Zorba understands the team's culture; he has the pedigree and heritage of the club at heart," Penn told The Daily Telegraph from off the coast of the US where he is holidaying in the three bedroom penthouse he owns next door to Gina Rinehart on the luxury cruise ship The World.
"When you are running a multi-million-dollar business it is vital to have good, reliable people on the ground - people with heritage, experience and trust," Penn said,
"How can you do better than Zorba? He understands it. He's been there, he's passionate about the players, the members and the fans."
Manly chairman Scott Penn, Rick's son and Peters' nephew, said he was hopeful all parties could work together. "There's obviously a bit of history between Peter and David Perry," Penn said.
"We've got to work together. I know they have made contact in recent times and acknowledge the fact we've all got to get on."
The Penn family has poured in more than $20 million over the last five years to prop up the football club and a struggling leagues club that has almost gone bust several times. It's thought that without the money, Manly would have folded by now.
Still, the Peters appointment will hardly bring an end to hostilities on a dysfunctional board. As late as Wednesday, Peters had a blazing row with fellow board member Darrell Williams at the district football club meeting. The Penn family has three of the seven votes on the board but football club directors Bob Reilly and Williams vote in a bloc with two directors from minor shareholders Quantam.
"That's an unhealthy position," Peters said. "As a life member of the district football club I am embarrassed by the continued political bloc being provided against the majority shareholders by the (DFC) representatives. It simply has to stop before this board can function as it should.
"I come into this position to be open and frank and with a mission to help clean up a mess."
The Peters appointment will be welcomed by the players and coach Geoff Toovey, who have had enough of the board instability. Peters is now the most powerful official at Brookvale and the only one with seats on the three boards of the leagues club, the DFC and now the Sea Eagles.