The Lane Cove West Football Club suffered a loss recently when Mark Bryant OAM passed away after a short illness on August 9th. He was just 65 years of age.
Mark Bryant OAM was a passionate supporter of the club and a tireless advocate for Ceberal Palsy. Mark was awarded his OAM for service to people with disabilities through The Spastic Centre of New South Wales (now known as Cerebral Palsy Alliance).
We asked current President Ivan Colhoun to tell us about Mark and his work for the club.
Mark joined the Lane Cove West Football Club in 1979 and was President from 1981 until 2013, only relinquishing the position to pursue a board seat on Soccer Australia. To say he was a great servant of the club is a massive understatement – he drove the club for over 30 years and was still excitedly posting news of victories to Facebook and organising Wednesday night trainings until a few days before his death. He was a member of the Men’s Football Committee at the Kuringai District Soccer Association and Northern Suburbs Football Association. While also a qualified referee, he much preferred to play!
Mark’s legacy that will benefit many players through the ages was to introduce “over age” football to the Association. First, it was the O30s, then O35s and O45s. In recent years he had organised a number of O50s and O60s games and also recently a game of walking football, so we can surmise what his next projects were! The club has been overwhelmed by the number of notes received from other clubs, acknowledging and thanking Mark for these initiatives that have allowed many, many players to continue their football well beyond previous use-by dates! In this way, Mark touched and improved many lives through his love of football. Mark also pioneered a team with a core group of Lane Cove West players, to compete in recent Masters games (O50s) in Turin, Auckland and Nice.
Ivan’s main memory of Mark was of someone who would find any excuse for a game of football. As soon as the winter season would finish he would announce that summer football had started, which took place on Sundays at 9am, except when Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inconveniently fell on a Sunday. He also recently decided that the O45s would continue training across the full year on Wednesday nights. He was always keen to help out the younger teams and played part of a game last year for All Age (18 years and over). Mark was also a very opportunistic recruiter of new players to the club – anyone with an accent was invariably asked if they played! His match reports were witty and frequently included reference or comparison to games from many years earlier for the club or in English football. He was also a keen follower of the Australian Cricket Team (always attending each day of the Sydney test), the Socceroos (of course – travelling to the past three World Cups in Germany, South Africa and Brazil) and the Wallabies.
I suspect that foremost, Mark was incredibly passionate about football and that LCW FC was the club lucky enough to be the vehicle through which he expressed that passion. That said, he steadfastly refused the annual merger approaches, enjoying the club’s identity, independence and general minimal bureaucracy. He was often heard to say that he was motivated to keep running and organising LCW FC as if he did, he had to be picked to play, so perhaps that also had something to do with it!
LCW FC is a relatively small club, with two men’s teams in each of All Age, O35s and O45s. The club photo below was taken when all six teams played at Blackman park a few years ago. We train during the winter on Wednesday night’s at Chatswood High School at 7pm and our home grounds are Mowbray Primary School and Blackman Park. As noted, Mark was an opportunistic recruiter and in that tradition, anyone that would like to express an interest for playing next season should email [email protected]
The photo below is of a Lane Cove West team (late 1980s/early 1990s I would guess – recognise anyone/yourself?) after winning the Stunned Mullet Cup at Brooklyn.
Mark is survived by his wife, Anne, his daughter Julia, and his son, David. A Cheerful Farewell will be held on Friday the 18th of August at Northbridge Golf Club at 2 pm. All are welcome.
Thank you, Ivan, for sharing your memories of Mark.
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