LOCAL soccer is blessed with some excellent sports photographers covering the exploits of clubs throughout the broad peninsula area.
They include Darryl Kennedy, Gemma Sliz, Paul Seeley and John Punshon and their photographs have appeared in these pages supporting our coverage of the local game.
Kennedy is a former player, coach, team manager and administrator who turns 60 this year and has been involved in the sport since he was 12 years old.
Most of his playing career was with Seaford United (including stints with Seaford North and Belvedere, the forerunners of the current club at North Seaford Reserve) but he also played for Frankston City colts, Peninsula, Carrum and Baxter.
“I started as a teenager through playing with mates at school and at first I was a right back until I got moved into the centre-half position,” Kennedy said.
“I never won anything. No personal stuff, nothing.
“Even had a few coaches that refused to play me because they were afraid of me giving away penalties.
“Just let’s say brutality rather than finesse was an apt description.
“There aren’t any playing highlights to be honest and I was one of those guys that was just happy to play in the reserves.”
His connection with Seaford spans over 40 years as a player (over 10 years), thirds’ coach (11 years), junior coach (over 10 years), senior team manager (two years), committee member (four years), junior co-ordinator (one year), club president (two years) and supporter.
“One year at Seaford stands out when I was president, team manager, coach of the thirds, coach of my son’s junior team and Bayside Football Association president,” he said.
“That was a very long year. I don’t think I could go through anything like that again.”
Kennedy also had two years as the team manager at Frankston Pines (2004, 2005) after being surprised by an approach from then Pines coach Stan Webster.
“I was in the pub one day with (wife) Louise and (son) Liam and I think from memory the Webster family had some function when Stan came over and asked me if I’d be interested in becoming his team manager.
“I have no idea why he approached me and I went down there with some reservations at first but I ended up having a very enjoyable time – apart from chasing Tommy (Mitchell) about the place trying to get equipment off him but that was part of the fun down there.”
Kennedy’s interest in sports photography had been sparked during his time at Seaford by Steve Gray, now one of the premier football videographers whose website Football Chaos and its facebook counterpart have become synonymous with grassroots Victorian soccer.
“I first met Steve at a Seaford game against Rosanna and I think he was living up that way at the time.
“He was taking photographs and you rarely saw someone doing that and doing it well.”
But it was during Kennedy’s stint as Pines team manager that his interest took hold and his skills and knowledge of photography grew.
“A few years later I think Steve had moved to Cranbourne and rather than taking photos had started videoing games.
“I thought to myself I don’t see many people taking photos and I’d like to do that so I went out and bought myself a camera.
“As Pines’ team manager I had access to all these areas so I started taking photographs and when my time at Pines ended I discovered that I could get accreditation through the FV or FFV at the time so I did and started going to games, mainly Premier League, and taking photos.
“That’s how it all started.”
And Kennedy’s journey as a sports photographer has many highlights.
They include his connection with the Gaelic Athletic Association of Victoria and rugby union (Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels).
For years he freelanced for ex-pat publication the Irish Echo, and even went to Ireland to cover the GAA World Games in 2019.
“Some of the best moments of that trip were walking on the hallowed turf of Croke Park and going over to England to watch West Ham play at London Stadium,” the Hammers’ tragic said.
He’s had many cherished football moments among them covering Glasgow Celtic and LA Galaxy tour games and many Melbourne Victory A-League matches and while being photographed with David Beckham and meeting then Irish international striker Robbie Keane might be seen by some as highlights there’s one match at the MCG in 2013 that stands out.
“Being there while thousands and thousands of Liverpool fans sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was something you never forget.”
But Kennedy’s attraction to sports photography is much more than working at iconic stadia or being at big games.
“People used to ask me what it’s like being a photographer and I’d say it’s like going to see a play and sitting in the audience then someone comes up to you and asks you if you’d like to operate the curtain.
“Others might think that that’s not much of a job but they’re wrong.
“You’re now up on stage getting to meet the stars, to see them perform, to see how it all works.
“That’s the enjoyable part ؘ– meeting all these people I never thought I’d meet in my lifetime.
“I’ve not just been up close to world-class footballers I’ve also met state premiers, the president of Ireland and plenty of politicians among many others and that’s a part of what makes photography so interesting and so great.
“That’s the attraction.”
Meanwhile in Football Victoria news the state body emailed clubs last week with Saturday 20 June pencilled in as the season reboot pending restrictions.
All clubs were encouraged to prepare for a number of possible impacts of the current season pause including:
- playing matches already scheduled for catch-up rounds during midweek
- an extended season and playing postponed matches/rounds during the proposed finals series
- fixtures that cannot be rescheduled and have no impact on promotion or relegation to be deemed as a no result
- any club not wishing to participate in a postponed fixture being deemed the forfeiting team
- the sequence of playing opposition teams and home and away patterns being amended.
The remaining local club in the FFA Cup, Langwarrin, is now likely to play its away tie away against Moreland Zebras in the week after the proposed league resumption.