By James Raknes
Tickets are selling fast to the inaugural Southern Football Netball League Hall of Fame. Be sure not to miss out, full details HERE
Bob Bray – Southern Football Netball League
Bob Bray is a club trainer unlike any other. In 60-years of service to community football, Bray has seen it all. He began at a time when Tuesday night’s training featured injured players treated with ultrasounds and huddled together under heat lamps.
‘It was an interest, my hobby, like everything – the more you put in the more you get back and I enjoyed every bit,’ recalls Bray.
Bray joined Oakleigh Districts FC in 1955. Like most, he went to support his mates. The club was looking for help. ‘The president grabbed me; clubs were always looking for volunteers,’ said Bob.
Bray has devoted a lot of time to the club as a committee member, past treasurer and selector. If he could put his hand up to help, he did. Committee roles aside Bray best served as a trainer, strapping ankles.
‘I loved getting to know the players … I felt part of the team,’ said Bray. ‘It’s about teamwork amongst us trainers.’
Bray’s home is Oakleigh Districts FC, being a life member since 1968. Yet he also donated his time to many other leagues and teams. Traveling to away games with the ‘midweek comp’ were highlights, matches at Puckapunyal and Cerberus to name a few. The Superules competition also kept Bray busy.
From three to four leagues at any one time, Bray’s volunteering was an incredible feat and well recognised. Awarded Trainer of the Year in ’96, he served as an interleague trainer for 16 years.
Bray attends every Oakleigh Districts match, yet this is his first year as a spectator.
‘I do miss the comradery, the feeling of being part of the team,’ Bray expressed. ‘Every year with the turnover of players, there’s more I don’t know.’
The SFNL presented Bob Bray with a life membership in 2006. After 60-years of tapping joints and applying ice, Bray is well deserved to join the Hall of Fame; his kindheartedness being rightfully honored.
‘I’m enjoying my retirement - happy watching from half way around the ground with some good friends.’
David Folley – Eastern Suburbs Churches Football Association
David Folley is a true clubman. He joined St Andrews-Gardenvale, now Caulfield FC in 1963. He won best and fairests and was president of the club. Folley was also treasurer for over 25 years and even ran the boundary when his knee gave out.
Gardenvale FC saw David through 377 games, most while operating on its board. His four reserves best and fairests are a clear sign of consistency. A decade separates Folley’s first and last awards.
Folley played slightly over half his games with the reserves team and says he was never concerned with missing senior games. ‘I just liked playing footy, so long as I got a game, that’s all I wanted,’ explained Folley.
Celebrating his 1973 B&F Folley was promoted to club president. He was still club treasurer. As an accountant by trade, he was the most suitable for the role.
A knee injury in 1982 moved Folley to the boundary. He continued running on game day until the merger. Acting on Caulfield’s general committee until once again volunteering as treasurer for two more years.
David Folley volunteered on his clubs committee for 35 years. He completed whatever role it needed, always wanting to help his mates out.
‘If you haven’t got ambitions to keep improving you tend to languish,’ says Folley, ‘You always want to be bettering yourself.’
As for the leagues future, Folley believes the league is much more regulated now.
‘The structure is certainly good; the difficulty is ensuring teams remain competitive,’ Folley acknowledged. Positive his club and others are headed in the right direction, adding ‘financial considerations will continue to play a significant part.’
David Folley can still be found at Koornang Park on Saturday. He’s the Bears timekeeper. ‘I love it, I want to be involved plus I get to watch the games,’ smiled Folley. He’s had the best view going on 22-years.
In 50-years of involvement with suburban football, Folley will always have a home at Caulfield. He received his life membership from the Bears in 1999. ‘I’ve enjoyed it all and I don’t feel like stopping,’ said Folley. ‘My job as timekeeper keeps me involved, I wouldn’t change anything.’
Jim Honey – Eastern Suburbs Churches Football Association
‘When you're not playing, you still feel like you could do something to help,’ says Jim Honey.
Honey is one of those “never left” type volunteers. Starting out at the age of 17, he’s played 300 games for Burwood United FC.
‘I loved every minute,’ he said.
Yet Honey felt there was so much more to contribute after playing. His previous roles include Club Secretary, President and Committee Member for the Eastern Churches Football Association. Always asking himself, ‘What could be done to be better?’
Vice-President and Manager throughout the 1980’s, Churches desired to become a public company. Honey was influential in appointing a full-time administrator. Known for his selflessness through volunteering, Honey was now creating paid jobs for the very tasks he worked.
‘Everything was about volunteering in those days. But we really changed that when I became the full time manager of the league,’ Honey joked.
This professionalism saw the league flourish. Appointing a board of director’s organised decision making, while purchasing a property in the late ‘80s was very much trendsetting territory. The new home was a hub for all the clubs, the envy of surrounding leagues.
‘When you get the right people you can do anything,’ said Honey. ‘Within a few years [other clubs] were adopting our strategies.’
The merger in ’93 had been discussed for several years prior. Fellow inductees, Jim Meneilly and Stan LeLievre were all central to the leagues joining.
‘Churches was financially sound … South-East didn’t have much, just some old footy’s, we knew that but it was about so much more,’ explained Honey. ‘Divisions that permit clubs to move up and down allow teams to come back to life and re-generate.’
Honey knew the league would thrive. ‘We had plenty of expert football administrators doing this their whole life.’
Seeing out the transition, Honey decided the league was in good hands. Now, Honey’s version of retirement is managing Oakleigh Chargers FC.
‘Coming to Oakleigh has consumed me … volunteering here eight-days a week, it’s just what I want. I’m the team man,’ Honey said fondly. ‘I have a flood of memories from wonderful people I’ve worked with and that’s what makes footy go … we’re all doing the same thing, we just happen to barrack for different clubs.’
Volunteering has always been about mates for Honey. His connection with the football community lead to a successful career that continues today.
20-years later, he says there is still work to do.
for more information about other inductees