On the eve of the new season, the Cronulla Sharks have celebrated one of their biggest off-field goals – reaching 10,000 members.
Cronulla woman Yvette Parker became the official 10,000th member of the club late last week, helping the Sharks reach the milestone before the start of a season for the first time.
Cronulla had just 6,000 members at the same time last year, highlighting the huge improvement for the club.
Sharks head of fan development Brad Pettitt said it was a great achievement.
“This was a pretty lofty goal to reach before round one just because we were coming from such a low base,” he said.
“But we set the target and put our heads down.
"We have a really big and passionate supporter base and the exciting part for us is that this is the first shift to the mindset that if you're a supporter you're also a member.
“We have a lot of fans who bleed black, white and blue but have never considered becoming a member.
“So this is a great step forward hopefully because membership for clubs these days is so vital.”
We have a really big and passionate supporter base and the exciting part for us is that this is the first shift to the mindset that if you're a supporter you're also a member.Cronulla Sharks head of fan development Brad Pettitt
Pettitt told The Leader reaching the milestone was a boost for the club heading into the new campaign.
“It was driven by a lot of support online and a lot of people got very excited as we edged closer and closer [to 10,000 members],” he said.
“It’s great to get to the number before the Dragons clash as well being the local derby.”
Parker said she was thrilled to claim the title of the club’s 10,000th member.
“I couldn’t believe it when the club rang me,” she said.
“I can’t wait for the derby in round two, I’ve already got the day off.”
Pettitt said the achievement had led to a new goal of 15,000 members for the season being set.
Cronulla start their season against North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night.
The Sharks’ first home game is their local derby clash against St George Illawarra next Sunday afternoon before games against Manly and Melbourne.