David Gallop: Anyone who has ever attended a junior sporting event and witnessed the parental meltdowns that take place where kids are trying to do what they do best, play and have fun, understands the passion that frustrated ex-athletes bring to the mix.
These parents heap abuse and scorn on umpires and referees, many of whom are there offering their services gratis or a pittance in order for the kids to experience the thrill of competition and the chance to stretch their physical limits.
One can easily imagine the kids banding together and plotting to play their games out of sight of the parents who want to relive their lives vicariously and live through their kids’, hoping that their child becomes the next Adam Scott, Ricky Ponting or Samantha Stosur.
All that said, amateur and professional sports contested at the top levels are in need of competent administration in order to police those who would gladly sacrifice integrity for monetary profit.
It is in that light that we will take this brief look at the efforts of one man who made his contribution to the world of Australian sport by working to bring order and fairness to initially rugby, and most recently football.
That man is David Gallop.
David Gallop was born 6 August 1965 in Canberra. His father was a solicitor and the family stayed in Canberra until 1979, and then spent a short time in Darwin before returning to their original area to reside in Narrabundah.
Young David Gallop played cricket and rugby union in primary school and was a fan of the Canberra Raiders rugby team. David dabbled with a career in sports administration when he started university at the Canberra College of Advanced Education, but that experiment was short-lived, lasting less than a month. He next took a fancy to studying the arts at Australian National University. Then it was on to Sydney in 1984 to study law at the University of Sydney. That discipline stuck, and he graduated in 1988.
David Gallop was no slouch as an athlete. He was a competent enough cricketer to play for the Kent League in Great Britain.
He was married to his wife Kathy in 1990 and they have two children, Tom and Anna.
If there could be said to be a life path that would prepare one to become involved in sports administration, it could very well be maintained that a solid background in athletics combined with a law degree and experience would be that path.
David Gallop was working at a law firm in Sydney in the summer of 1994-95 and keeping active by playing cricket weekends at the University of NSW.
It was during this time that one of his mates on the cricket team forged an alliance with John Ribot, the innovator of the Super League, which resulted in Gallop assuming the post of Legal Affair Manager for the league.
Of course, when the inevitable legal entanglements that began when Super League and its parent organisation News Corporation tried to obtain exclusive pay television rights for the entire country arose, the lawyers got busy formulating a deal that would result in the merger of Super League and the Australian Rugby league that in 1998 resulted in the National Rugby League.
One can easily imagine the similarity betwixt this peccadillo and the earlier example we made of irate parents at a kids’ sporting contest. It is not much of a stretch to envision rugby players holding a secret meeting to conjure up a way to do what they loved, play rugby, without the intervention of petulant owners, lawyers and administrators.
Of course, all this theatre makes for an entertaining drama. David Gallop’s contribution was apparently considered so valuable that those who care about such affairs proclaimed him the New South Wales Sports Administrator of the Year in 2002. That is maybe not the equivalent of the Allan Border Medal, but it certainly would seem to be better than a poke in the eye with a sharp boomerang.
Gallop would go on to even greater administrative achievement that were to result in his receiving an essentially similar award in 2006, except that on this occasion the Sports Administrator of the Year Award covered the entire country, including and beyond NSW.
Advancement after advancement followed to the point where in 2010, Gallop became the acting Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission.
From this lofty perch, in 2010 David Gallop proceeded to play a major role in depriving the Melbourne Storm of five premierships and effectively suspended the team for the remainder 2010 season by forcing them to play without the ability to accumulate points.
The rest of the saga, all the accusations, recriminations, penalties and name calling and cries for the blood of various miscreants were a figurative black eye of a sport that has never lacked for actual black eyes.
All this was, of course taking place amidst other scandals, player defections and seemingly endless negative publicity, with the inevitable salary cap violations thrown into the mix.
David Gallop again ran afoul of dedicated rugby fans in 2011 when he made some ill-conceived remarks comparing the supporters of the Melbourne Storm to terrorists for booing him during the presentation ceremony of the 2011 Minor Premiership.
These were after all, gentle-hearted rugby fans, and whilst they are generally tolerant of criticism, Gallop’s comparison of them to terrorists happened to fall precisely on the 10th anniversary of the 911 attacks in the United States.
Like many famous athletes, entertainers and politicians before him, Gallop was pilloried in the court of public opinion. He made the requisite mea culpas, but of course, nothing less than actual resignation from his post would have calmed the storm. The Melbourne Storm fans, to be exact.
Of course, the only outcome that was realised was that David Gallop’s contract was extended for four years in February of 2012. Less than six months later, however, he made an unceremonious departure from the top post of the NRL, and was rewarded for his significant contributions to fair play and sportsmanship by an appointment to an equivalent posting in soccer’s Football Federation Australia.
Hopefully, David Gallop will have a better relationship with the well-behaved soccer fans of Australia and he will rein in the unruly hooligans that give soccer a bad name and detract from its appeal.