4 May 2024

Wolves enlist Mark Upton as general manager to steer their path to National Second Tier competition

| Kellie O'Brien
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Mark Upton Wollongong Wolves

Mark Upton has been appointed Wollongong Wolves’ new general manager. Photo: Supplied.

The Wollongong Wolves Football Club has entrusted Mark Upton with the role of full-time general manager, as it embarks on its journey into the National Second Tier (NST) competition set for next year.

Announced on Thursday (2 May), it follows the departure of Strebre Delovski and the club’s search for a new general manager to help guide the Wolves on a full-time basis.

Upton, formerly The Sage Wollongong general manager, has been tasked with helping the club return to the national stage in March or April 2025 in the inaugural NST competition.

“I’ve been looking at being more involved in the communities of Wollongong and the role popped up and I felt it was the right role for me after being in a pretty strong leadership role at the hotel for six-plus years,” Upton said.

“It’s about working with the club, the board and the community around growing what’s already a really strong community-based club and getting ready both commercially and on the pitch for league two.

“It’s a great opportunity for such a great club to be able to make that step up and I’m just really excited to be part of that.”

READ ALSO Mark Upton aiming beyond seven marathons in seven states in seven days – to do 30 in 30

Upton said with it being a large and significant national league, it was good for the region and proved how much the Illawarra was growing with major events and sport in the past couple of years.

“It’s obviously a big opportunity for myself but also for the club and football across the region,” he said.

“The Illawarra football community is thriving and has been for a while and just keeps growing.”

Starting 13 May, his role will be to oversee all areas of the club’s operations to ensure the region continues to be represented at the highest level possible and to lead the club into the future.

He said his goals would be around growing on what was already in place, but particularly building on the strong community base and exploring markets outside the Illawarra as well.

“When you’ve already got such a strong community base, it certainly helps in trying to drive that market to be a lot bigger and hopefully get bigger commercial partners on board in the lead up to the Second Tier next year,” he said.

“We’ll also be getting across all of the community football clubs in the Illawarra region as well, not just our club.

“It’s really important that it’s not just Wollongong Wolves, but it’s football across the board in the region.”

Wollongong Wolves chairman Tory Lavalle welcomed Upton’s appointment.

READ ALSO Watch Aussie sporting history on the big screen at Wollongong’s Gala Cinema in May

“Mark comes from a strong and extensive background across all aspects in business, tourism and major events nationally and abroad, and we are excited to welcome Mark to the club and look forward to working with him,” Lavalle said.

While Upton serves as a director of Destination Wollongong and is a committee member of Healthier Illawarra Men, he also has a strong connection to sport through a long history as a marathon runner.

From 1 July, he will run seven marathons in seven consecutive days in seven states as part of Bravehearts 777 with his 71-year-old father Brian.

He said he was committed to continuing with it due to being a passionate advocate and fundraiser for the Bravehearts charity.

“For me, it’s all about habits and building on that sporting drive,” he said.

“I might even be able to convince some of the boys to run with me maybe – I’ll have to check with the coach,” he said, laughing.

Upton has held leadership positions across national hospitality groups over the past decade and has worked on a variety of national sporting and community events.

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