THE strong bond among Seaford United players has underpinned the club’s promotion push this year.
That’s the view of club captain Jeremy Schwellinger.
“We’ve got good tactics, we’ve got a good coach but I think what really helps us is the camaraderie amongst the playing group,” he said.
“Everyone is friends with everyone so we’re going to play for each other.
“There’s no bad blood in this team.”
Seaford is very much a Schwellinger family affair with dad Peter head coach and younger brother Mathias joining Jeremy in the senior squad.
Although the season is in limbo Seaford United’s promotion push in State 4 South was very much in play before the latest lockdown.
“I think we exceeded expectations to be honest,” the team captain said.
“We had a lot of pre-season injuries, season-ending injuries and that really hindered our progress.
“I am 100 per cent certain that if we had played a full season and had a full squad we would have finished in the top two at least.
“We dropped points in some silly games that we shouldn’t have but let’s take nothing away from (league leader) Noble Park because they were the most consistent team.
“They’re a good team but we never got to play them.”
One of the major injuries that hit Seaford this season came in late February when Mathias Schwellinger broke his leg in an FFA Cup tie.
He eventually was given the all-clear to return to action but when he came on as a second-half substitute against Chelsea in late July he didn’t last long.
“He was actually making good progress but when he had to come off in that match he had more scans and they found out that the leg wasn’t fully healed in the first place and still carried a minor break.”
The Schwellinger brothers had formed a central defensive partnership during pre-season that had been integral to the team’s progress under their father who had only taken on the head coaching role late last year.
“Actually it was my idea,” Jeremy Schwellinger said.
“I was in midfield and Matthias was on a wing but I thought we were both tall enough, quick enough and had a really good connection to play at the back and it worked.
“It was a real shame that we didn’t get to play the season together because I think we would have had a really rock-solid season.”
Jeremy Schwellinger is 30 and four years old than his brother but many parts of their football journey have been a shared experience.
They both kicked off their careers at Lawton Park in the Langwarrin juniors while their father was playing for Melbourne Knights and Richmond among others.
Jeremy had shunned his dad’s attempts to get him to play in goal and played in his preferred role as a striker.
He played at junior Super League level for Southern Stars then spells followed at Frankston Pines, Peninsula Strikers, Old Carey and eventually Melton.
“It was at Old Carey that I moved into midfield and ever since I haven’t been allowed to go back up front,” he said.
Peter Schwellinger took over as Old Carey coach during Jeremy’s three seasons there and both brothers were joined by current Seaford teammates Blake and Hayden Hicks for the 2014 season.
“After Old Carey I sort of stepped away from the game mainly due to work reasons then dad moved to Melton and wanted to get back into coaching so he took on the Melton Phoenix job and wanted us to go there.”
The Schwellingers weren’t at Phoenix for long.
“It wasn’t a very good team and the club wasn’t really run too well then.”
Again a break from the game ensued as Jeremy Schwellinger works with Veteran’s Affairs and the demands of his role prompted him to relocate to Epping.
When he returned to Frankston to live there had been a major change in Seaford’s coaching structure and when long-time friend Matt Morris-Thomas contacted him and wanted both brothers to join him at North Seaford Reserve no wasn’t really an option.
“Matty had taken over as player-coach (May 2018) and although I was keen to get back into the game and was looking for a club at a higher level I couldn’t knock him back.”
It has proven to be the best move of his career.
“I think of all the clubs I’ve been at Seaford has the best bunch of people, really, really good people.
“I’d love to go up for all of them.
“There’s a lot of games still to play but to be honest things aren’t looking too good right now.
“I can’t see how they are going to promote teams with so many games not played.”
But if Seaford’s promotion hopes fall victim to the virus the club’s captain remains positive in his view of what can be achieved next season.
“We need to have a full squad without all these injuries.
“When we have no injuries we are very, very hard to beat and we can beat anyone in the league.
“But if we lose a couple of players through injury or suspension we struggle to replace them so yeah, we need some new players for sure because we definitely need more depth.
“Dad’s instilled a really good culture and I’m very, very confident that we’ll be successful next year.”
Meanwhile in State 2 news Peninsula Strikers won’t be playing at Centenary Park until 2022 after extensive works started last week for a complete makeover of the main pitch.
Temporary fencing surrounds the pitch as the existing fencing has been removed.
A new pitch will be laid including new drainage and a new irrigation system.
There will be new dugouts, ball-stop fencing behind both goals and new fencing surrounding the pitch perimeter.
Club vice-president Steve Schreck says the club will still have use of its Ballam Park facility “should a miracle happen and there are more games played this year.”