The elevation of Brendan Sheehan to field-name status at FHC celebrates a contribution of just over 40 years to the Footscray Hockey Club. Brendan was a talented junior cricketer but not playing winter sport back in the early 1970’s when he came along to watch his younger brother Peter who had started playing U10 hockey at FHC. Within weeks of the seasons start a chap called Alby Speed convinced spectator Brendan to come along and give the senior game a try – and the rest is history!
Brendan took quickly to the sport and to FHC. Within a couple of seasons he was coaching junior teams, heading up our school recruiting efforts and after just four or five years was on the FHC Board. On field, Brendan’s cricket skills transferred quickly to our game, and by 1977 he was playing coach of our Men’s first eleven team. In a famous campaign, that 1977 team won three finals, all in extra time, to win our fifth Men’s first eleven premiership.
That State League 4 premiership was the equivalent of the fourth highest grade of men’s hockey in Victoria, so you can see that the journey to actual permanent (we’re almost there aren’t we?) Premier League status over the next forty years has been a lifetime’s work for Brendan, Alby, Neil, Leon, RJ, Darryl, Greg and so on.
In Brendan’s case his motivation was possibly different to other guys because from his very earliest years he became involved in Hockey Victoria affairs, and on many committees he was the only non-Premier League Club person. His observations that things outside of the Premier League were very often not known about, and often not cared about, fuelled his passion to gain respect in the Melbourne hockey community for his Club. Alby and Neil, on the men’s side, certainly went on to contribute similarly to Hockey Vic affairs.
Brendan had the great good luck to meet an athletic young women called Julie-Anne Brown in the middle ‘70’s, and Julie-Anne’s take-up of the FHC cause a few years later has allowed one of FHC’s greatest family-involvement stories to unfold. Julie-Anne has not only done so much in her own right for FHC over the subsequent decades (and on-field still continues to add to her tally as the Club’s all-time female games record holder), but her unending support for Brendan to be down at the Club so often or working away on hockey projects in the home office has allowed this story to unfold. Their pride in helping create a great environment for their daughter Ally to enjoy has returned the family so many happy years of competitive and social fun.
In hindsight, Brendan’s training and career development in, first, Physical Education teaching, and that soon overtaken by his lifetime passion for sports and leisure administration, have underpinned his key contributions to FHC through junior coaching and development, and off-field planning and project development. For many years Brendan was the senior local government level sports facility planning consultant for the State Government (Sport and Recreation Victoria – ‘SRV’) as well as an advisor to Local Government on how to provide for all interests across the leisure range. Contrary to outside opinion, Brendan’s involvement at SRV has meant that our pathway to State Government funding support over the years has not been easy. Brendan was never involved in any project assessment panel in years where there was an FHC project up for review, and the knowledge of his involvement at FHC meant that project submissions related to our Club had to always be generally better than the rest to get consideration by the Department / Ministers aware of the potential conflict of interest involved.
Brendan’s skills remain in strong use by FHC today as Brendan moves from his recent U8 ‘Summer Academy’ in the Kids Cage, to his key off-field involvements, like steering the renewal of our new 5 year Strategic Plan, to helping represent our best interests in negotiations with Council over the pavilion re-development and the renewal of our lease over the Footscray Hockey Centre.
The announcement at last Sunday’s AGM that FHC’s original field was to be named in his honour elevated an already great morning for Brendan. His honour had been preceded earlier in the meeting by the election of his great friend and hockey collaborator Darryl Jahnke to Life Member status at FHC (our 36th LM).
Whilst these listings below fail to capture so much of an individual’s contribution to their Club, the formal listing of Brendan’s FHC appointments are as per:
PRESIDENT: 1999, 2012-13
VICE PRESIDENT: 1977
U/AGE SEC: 1978-79, 1981, 1986,-89, 2003-10
MENS SEC: 1982-85, 1990-93, 1999-00
PLANNING & PERFORMANCE: 1995, 2011-current
472 SENIOR GAMES MENS COACH: 1977-79, 81, 83
FIRST XI P/SHIP: (PLAYER/COACH): 1977
U/AGE COACH: 35+ YEARS