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The secret hero of the Shire

If you've had anything to do with the Cronulla Caringbah Sharks then you'll know that the Dean family are kind of a big deal down in the Shire. 

Matt is the current club captain while his younger brother Bradley is the skipper of their Emerging Cup side, but it's their mother, Pam, who is the real hero at the Sharks.

She joined as a club member in 2001 when her sons started playing and has rapidly risen through the ranks to hold the titles of Secretary and Registrar amongst a host of other roles. 

Her influence hasn't been lost on Cronulla Caringbah Sharks Club President, Cameron Johnson, who credits Pam for helping the organisation go from strength to strength over the years. 

"I'm the actual President, but apart from that, she's doing basically everything else at the club. She deals with all the headaches and all the toing and froing and we couldn't function without her," Johnson told

"Three years ago I came up with an idea to start having teams for women because there was nothing available like that in the Shire. Most of the older heads thought I was kidding but she was one of the only ones to go along with the idea. 

"Now we've got five teams and we've won two premierships and I guarantee that wouldn't have happened without her support. 

"If you piss her off you'd better watch out, and that's why she's so good at what she does because she doesn't take any rubbish. She tells you how it is and how it’s going to be done and she's almost always right; even when she's wrong she's still right!"

"To win a premiership, I honestly can't put into words what it means because I waited 50 years for it to happen."

Pam Dean on Cronulla's NRL Grand Final win last season.

Dean broke ground last year when she became just the second woman to be inducted into Cronulla Caringbah's Life Membership for her service to the club. It's only bestowed to those who have either played 20 years straight or have been on the executive committee for 10 consecutive years and is the highest honour the club has to offer. 

When you hear what Pam goes through every Saturday, it's easy to understand why she's the heart and soul of the southern Sydney club. 

"To be honoured like that by the club was a wonderful moment because there's only one other woman that has a life membership with Cronulla-Caringbah," Dean told  

"I get down to the club at seven in the morning and start the barbeque up and cook most of the meat to get things rolling in the morning. I then help put the scoresheets out with our caretaker and then depending on how many games are going, I might ground manage one of the fields and then go backwards and forwards between the canteen and other duties.

"At the end of the day, I collect the scoresheets and enter them into the database so all the scores are updated and show tries and goals and things like that."

Even though her kids are now adults, Dean wants to stay involved with the club for as long as possible to usher in the next generation of future Sharks stars. 

It's a fitting sentiment given her upbringing as a Cronulla supporter which culminated in the club's maiden premiership last season. 

"My Godparents started taking me to Cronulla games when I was 10," she recalled. 

"We used to go to every game, travelling to every venue across Sydney and that's something I continued to do for most of my life until I had to slow down a bit when I started to have a family. 

"To win a premiership, I honestly can't put into words what it means because I waited 50 years for it to happen. 

"To make it even more special, my daughter – who lives in London – came down for her brother's wedding and then extended her stay to go to the grand final with me because she's a mad Sharks supporter who streams all the games over in London. 

"Sitting at Shark Park at 2am waiting for the boys to come back was something I'll never forget."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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