Class acts on board secure clubs ZORBA Manly Daily 21jan06 The nightmare of Darren Albert flashing across the tryline to snatch the 1997 grand final from Manly in the dying minutes turned the after-match function a few hours later into a wake. At that time the club need a morale booster and the then powerhouse businessman Paul Cummings delivered. While most wallowed in self-pity that night Cummings put his company into an extension of its lucrative sponsorship of the Sea Eagles via the the world-wide film and camera giant Fuji. Who could have believed that nine years later Cummings would be the man to lead the Sea Eagles out of a near-death situation to today's only real privately-owned team in the NRL? While other clubs flirt with a privatisation affair, Manly have boldly shown the rest of the league world how to do it. The announcement on Wednesday that Penn Sport had purchased the remainder of the shares available in the Sea Eagles has been a continuation of the privatisation plan from June 2004 when members voted by more than 94 per cent to accept the revolutionary pathway. Max Delmege's generosity in Manly's hour of need can never be forgotten. There was never anything commercial about his decision to financially support his beloved Sea Eagles. It was a decision of the heart - a direction followed by Penn Sport who see their injection of finance to Manly as more of a community service than a business decision. Scott Penn was the original underbidder back in 2004 and he has remained on the board since and has now achieved his objective to be a major shareholder in the club he has followed since he was a youngster. With Penn Sport joining with Delmege Commercial to own almost 80 per cent of the maroon and whites, the long-term financial future of the club is assured. A small hardcore group have worked hard to make it happen but there can be no doubt that the astute and dynamic leadership of Paul Cummings has played more than a significant role. The former CEO of Hanimex in Australasia answered the call from Manly Godfather Ken Arthurson to brainstorm Manly's comeback. Since Cummings retired from his constant travelling days as CEO of Fuji Film he has devoted all his energy and knowhow into rebuilding the Sea Eagles on and off the field. He has negotiated the political minefield and emerged with great dignity and success. His standing down as executive chairman of the Sea Eagles co-coincides with the completion of the sale of shares into the Sea Eagles. That doesn't mean Cummings will be lost to the organisation far from it. He will remain as a board member and concentrate more on his vital role as chairman of Manly Leagues Club which continues to contribute a $1million a year to the Sea Eagles and together with the equal major shareholders remains the main benefactor behind the Sea Eagles. As such the Leagues Club has two positions on the Sea Eagles Board which will be now chaired by outstanding young business man and avid Sea Eagle supporter Joe Cross. With the football club ready now to march on,Cummings will press home some exciting plans for the almost 30,000 Leagues Club members. Cummings wants members in a brand new club in the near future to complete a promise he made to his close friend Ken Arthurson. The two talk by phone most days and both won't rest until the Sea Eagles are the most hated team in the NRL again. That will be the signal that the Sea Eagles are once again the envy of the League. Manly needed a tough,uncompromising but fair leader after Arko and got one in Paul Cummings. DES Hasler's quiet persona should never be taken as a sign of weakness. Indeed the Sea Eagles head coach is a tough taskmaster in his role and refuses to bend easily. The NRL filmed the 2006 advertising campaign this week and elite players from all clubs attended. Part of the opener will show the captains from each club grabbing for the Telstra Cup. Only problem is that Manly haven't appointed a captain for the upcoming season and aren't likely to until the week of the season opener. To their credit the NRL accepted the Manly position and Steve Menzies had his hand on the coveted cup with the blessing of his team-mates. The move shouldn't be taken as a pointer that Beaver may be skipper in what could be the final season of his fabulous career. Manly's likely captain has produced a never ending saga in the media with up to six players having been mentioned as possibilities. The decision is Hasler's and he isn't saying a thing.