Local Legends

Local Legends: Looking after Lara FNC for over 30 years

Mark Kelly is a true legend of the Lara community, with his involvement in the Lara Football Netball Club beginning over 30 years ago.

Mark has three sons who began playing footy at the club in the 1990s, where he volunteered as a parent in various roles including timekeeper and goal umpire. He has maintained his involvement to the present day, despite his sons retiring as players many years ago.

He volunteered his time as a score board and time keeping attendant for over 20 years before moving into his current team manager role. Mark was so dedicated to the role that he would drive his car to the ground in the early morning on game day to ensure he secured a park next to the score board. He would then get his wife to pick him up and drop him back at the ground later in the day.

Since 2013, Mark has been the Lara FNC Senior’s and Reserves Team Manager, and the club Property Steward, as well as managing any maintenance issues at the club. He spends his Friday’s marking the lines on all three home ovals, in preparation for the weekend’s matches. He also volunteers to assist at all club functions and will always put his hand to up to help out with whatever is needed on the day.

In addition to his match day role as Team Manager, Mark attends the club every day on his lunch break to look after the centre cricket wicket and ensure that the surface is safe and protected for football on the weekend!

On match day, he prepares ice for the football and netball players post-game, cleans up the club rooms and tidies around the oval. He also coordinates key match day roles such as interchange manager and timekeeper.

Every weekend, Mark proactively checks in with the canteen staff during the busy match day rush, arranges of the refilling of gas bottles for the BBQ and assists the junior volunteers with the provision and removal of equipment such as goal post covers.

Mark jumps at the chance to volunteer at all club functions, and used to run a local business that sponsored the club.

Mark has more recently been involved in the running of the AFL Barwon finals series in his local area, volunteering as an event manager for the match day administration over the four-week finals series. Before every finals game, Mark collects the team sheets from the U18, Reserves and Senior clubs and presents them to the umpires along with the match balls, and then collects all the paperwork at the conclusion of the game in readiness for AFL Barwon to update it into PlayHQ.

Simon Riddoch from AFL Barwon said that Mark will take on any tasks required to ensure the smooth running of the finals series.

“Mark has been a terrific asset during the finals over the last two years and has signed up again for 2024 finals,” he said.

As a result of his contribution over many decades, Mark has been awarded Life Membership at the Lara FNC.

Chairman of the Lara FNC, Chris Spence commended Mark on his selfless dedication to the club over many years.

“Mark is a well-known and much-loved volunteer, committee representative and life member at LFNC. There are many senior players at the club who have never known another team manager,” he said.

“He is always on hand for any requests from the footballers, replacing forgotten articles at the last moment before a game and reuniting players with long-lost belongings. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave the club rooms every Saturday and is the embodiment of the selfless volunteer who is the lifeblood of his community club.”

AFL Victoria’s Local Legends initiative aims to recognise the local heroes who are the lifeblood of their local clubs and communities.

Whether it be a coach, player, umpire, local business owner, administrator or volunteer, AFL Victoria wants to celebrate the people who are the backbone of community football clubs. Community football clubs simply could not survive without those who are willing to show up each weekend and make sure that the game goes ahead, crowds are well fed, players are supported and success is enjoyed.

Nominees for the AFL Victoria Local Legends initiative can be anyone who is involved in a community football club in any capacity, whether it be paid or unpaid, directly related to the game or a behind-the-scenes super star, these legends are who make community football what it is.

Do you know someone with a great story like Mark? Nominate them now