Helen Riley - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what sports did you play as a child?
I grew up on a farm at Laharum, a small district 30kms south of Horsham at the foothills of the Grampians. The local football club was my family's life, and the lifeblood of our small community. My dad was President and my three brothers played football while my sister and I played netball.
I started playing when I was eleven in the Under 16s, which was the only junior age group at the time. Needless to say it wasn’t a starring debut. I did however go on to win a couple of B&F’s in the junior grade, and then later in A grade. But I have to point out that we didn’t win a lot of games, and its fair to say I was one of the best in a bad team – in reality I was a capable B grade player rather than an A grade player.
I’d like to say Sally and Erin got their talent from me, but I was never as good as them. I played at Bungaree in 1987 & 1988 and at Llanberris until a shoulder injury finally stopped me when I was 39. I also played Tennis for Laharum from around 11-12 and played until I moved to Ballarat when I was 19, where I played for a number of years at St James Sebas, Alfredton and then Pootilla when I married Tim, as that is where he played.
How and when did you join Redan and what was your initial impression of the club?
I joined Redan in 2007 when Sally and Esse Cahir started playing netball in the Under 18s. My first impression of the club was at a practice match at Buninyong where Jenny Cahir & I were watching our girls play and Jo Jess came up and welcomed us both to the club and made us feel very welcome.
Jo was the Netball director at the time. I also remember after Sally's first match, played at the Ballarat & Clarendon courts, all of the netball girls – seniors, reserves and Under 18s - went over to the City Oval and sat on the Sturt Street hill under the trees and watched the footy together. The senior girls welcomed our girls and made them feel a part of the club right from day one, and always included them at every function the club held.
You’ve had three children play at Redan, what are some the highlights of their respective careers?
Erin joined the year after Sally and the girls had one season together in Under 18s, defeating an unbeaten East Point in the Grand final. Kristy Ward (Murrihy) was the Coach. From memory Erin won the B&F and Sally was Runner Up that year.
There have been many highlights with both girls winning a few awards -B & F’s, Runner ups, and being named in the BFNL Team of the Year but obviously the biggest and most memorable highlight is playing together in the first (and only) A grade Netball premiership in 2011.
It is well documented that Lake Wendouree were going for their 5th premiership in a row to equal the record held by Sebastopol, and had not lost a game for the previous two seasons. They were red hot favourites, and to everyone (myself included) Lakers had the game won before it was played. Everyone that is, except for Kate McMahon (Coach) and the nine Redan girls in the team that day!! It was a huge day for Redan FNC with the Senior footballers also taking out the premiership from favourites Sunbury and the club taking home 5 premiership cups for the day.
Hayden joined Redan from Mt Clear JFC in 2012 and played in the Under 18.5s when “Shooter” was the Coach. The highlight for him that first year was debuting in the seniors against Melton South on a very muddy City Oval, alongside (Jarrod) Jezza Edwards.
He was 17 and kicked a goal in his first match and we got the win. He played two senior games that year before going back to the Under 18s for finals where they went on to win the premiership – his first and only one. The following year, he played just the one Under 18 game before being promoted to seniors again and didn’t miss a senior game for three years until a stress fracture in his foot ended his football career at the age of 20.
He’s now 24 and I often wonder what sort of a player he would have been today if this hadn’t happened. But … that’s football.
Over the years Redan supporters and players have been fortunate to have a weekly gallery of action shots you have taken for our Facebook page. When and how did this all start?
I had always taken photos of our kids playing their chosen sports for our own enjoyment and continued this when we got to Redan. After posting some of the photos on my own Facebook page Marita Schiltz (who was the Clubs Co-ordinator) asked me if I would take some to share on the club's Facebook page. This was about around five years ago. I still maintain that I don’t know anything about cameras, and a lot of my photos are pure luck!
Do you find netball or football easier to shoot?
Football - although I don’t have a massive sports lens so can really only focus on the action that is happening within 50 metres or so of where I’m standing. It is difficult to get something different on the netball court each week, and I am also very aware that the girls don’t want a photo published that is less than flattering, or too revealing. I try not to post anything that will embarrass the girls. There’s been some terrific netball shots that no-one has seen! Occasionally I have had requests from players not to be photographed, and I respect that.
I like to take some of the supporters and well known faces of the club occasionally, and these are always popular.
If you had to pick one photo, which stands out as a the best you have taken?
Its really hard to choose just one – I’ve got a lot of favourites and have shared some here. But I think the best photo I’ve taken was of Dan Colbert, who took a great mark during the 2015 qualifying final against North City, and then backed it up with a second a few minutes later, and I was lucky enough to get both. My favourite Netball photo is one of Hollie Frew (now Horbury) as she passes the ball, framed by players and arms.
What about the funniest thing you’ve captured?
A few years ago one of our boys was taking a run down the wing of the Northern Oval against North City and took a few bounces before his kick. I had the shutter on repeat so had a series of photos. I did not realise until I was editing the photos that night, that the player had loose football shorts on and either the elastic had gone on his jocks or he wasn’t wearing any.. because I got more than I had bargained for in the photos. Needless to say I can’t attach a copy of this one- it has long been deleted!
How much work is involved in terms of taking photos and the editing?
There is a lot of work involved, but I do it because I enjoy it. Now that we don’t have anyone playing I admit that I’ve started to slow down and not be available every week. But when I can I like taking the photos on game day and try to get to as many games as I can across the day.
I do get excited at the prospect of timing it perfectly for a great mark, or one of the netballers showing some mid air athletic prowess. The editing usually takes a couple of hours – sorting through and deleting the majority of shots taken, and cropping photos to highlight players and their actions. I often don’t know what I’ve got until I get home and start editing.
Who would be your top five footballers and netballers you have seen during your time with the club?
On the netball court it would be hard to go past Phoebe Knox who was the Goal Shooter in the 2011 premiership team and was named best on court. She was always strong, used her body well and would nearly always rebound the very few shots she missed.
Other players I loved watching were Steph Burns, (she could shoot goals from anywhere!) and the athleticism of players like Cass Peace, Amy McDonald, Liv Jorgenson and current player Ash Smith. Erin and Sally would both be in my top players too.
Erin, at 6’2’’ was a terrific GK, who gave many a Goalshooter a hard time, and was able to keep the top shooters quiet most days. Not many were able to shoot big scores against her. During her years at GK in A grade Redan had one of the best defensive units in the competition as she teamed up with Emma Henry, Jordan Lever and Amy Elliott.
Sally loved her netball at Redan and always gave 150%. She played with determination and was always competitive. In 2011 she was R/up B&F in the league and named in the team of the year.
While not a player, I have enormous respect for Kate McMahon and what she did as Coach in 2011. She turned Sally and Erin into very strong, very competitive players. Erin went on to play for the ACU Sovereigns in the Championship division while Sally defected to football and went on to AFLW. I believe Kate is a big reason the girls were able to take their sport to the next level.
There have been a lot of players I’ve loved watching on the football field too. Again my favourite was Hayden of course. But for the best players I’ve seen ... Jezza Edwards was a class above. Cal Currie – I always seemed to get a lot of photos of him because he got so much of the ball and ran down the wing in front of me so much! Pat Britt is such a reliable backman and is rarely beaten.
Defenders really don’t get the recognition they deserve, but Pat deserves every accolade that comes his way. Nathan Horbury has to be right up there as one of the best, along with Liam Hoy and Lachie George. Having watched Mitch Phelps play alongside Hayden from Under 11s, it was always exciting when he got the ball and was anywhere near the goals.This year I’m enjoying watching the Under 19s. We have some great talent there.
Describe the honour of receiving the Phonse Weekes Best Club person award.
That was so unexpected. As they went to announce it I went to get a photo of the recipient. My name was the last I expected to hear! It really is a great honour to be recognised at a club like Redan, and I felt very humbled by it.
What have been some of your biggest highlights following Redan?
See above – the Phonse Weekes award!
A personal highlight was the 2012 season when Hayden joined Redan from Mt Clear JFC and we had all three playing for the same club at the same venue, after years of juggling three children all playing at similar times at three different venues. Unfortunately it only lasted for one year, as Sally moved to the NT in 2013.
The friendships and sense of community at Redan is second to none. From day one our family has been made to feel a part of the Redan family and no matter where our kids sports take us, we know we will always be welcomed back at Redan. For that we will be forever grateful.
What are some of your favourite memories of Grand Final day 2011?
What can I say. Everything about that day was amazing. I have watched the netball video back several times over the years and still get a thrill when during the speeches you can hear the football crowd roar as it was announced over the PA that Redan had just defeated Lakers in the A grade netball.
Sally and Erin getting to share that premiership memory for the rest of their lives is pretty special too.
With all the premierships we won that day, its fair to say that the celebrations lasted well into the next week and beyond!. The ten year reunion/s in 2021 will be huge!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to become involved as a volunteer with the club?
It is so true when people say that you get back more than you give.. as I have received so much more from being involved at the Redan FNC than I have ever given.
It’s a great club – and its that way because we have so many good people willing to pull up their sleeves and get involved.
Sally, Hayden and Erin 2012
City Oval 2018
Hayden's debut 2012 City Oval (With Jarrod Edwards front and Mitch Phelps rear)
Dan Colbert 2015 Eastern Oval
Holly Frew (now Horbury)
Tim with Hayden 2012
Phonse Weekes Award 2015
2011 with Erin and Sally
2011 A Grade Netball Grand Final
2011 A Grade Netball Grand Final