Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) proudly announced at today’s launch of the 2018 Men’s Premier Competitions that the National Premier Leagues (NPL) NNSW Player of the Year would be awarded the prestigious Graham Jennings Medal from 2018.
Born and bred in Newcastle, Jennings, otherwise known as ‘Flash’ due to his blinding speed, began his senior career as a 16-year old at Adamstown Rosebud in 1976 before a move to the National Soccer League (NSL) in 1979 with Sydney Olympic. ‘Flash’ had a 20-year playing career amassing an incredible 350 NSL appearances, which included subsequent stints at Sydney Croatia, APIA Leichhardt and 25 games with the Newcastle Breakers.
Jennings made his Socceroos’ debut under Frank Arok against England in 1983. In total, Jennings played 84 times for his country, 44 of which were full ‘A’ Internationals.
Jennings lined up against some of the best players of the era in fixtures against Manchester United and the English and Brazilian National Teams during a Socceroos’ journey which took Jennings to consecutive FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns and the 1988 Olympic Games.
It is the kind of career which earns players a spot in the Australian Football Hall of Fame, Hunter Hall of Fame and Australian Football Team of the Decade (80’s).
Jennings responded to the announcement saying, “It’s a great honour to be recognised with this award.”
“Knowing that I have made an impact in football within Northern NSW makes me proud of my footballing heritage and I humbly acknowledge all the great players of the past as well as former teammates from our local competition who nurtured and inspired me as a player.”
“I would also like to thank those at Northern NSW Football who put my name forth,” Jennings concluded.
NNSWF CEO, David Eland said: “We are extremely honoured that Graham Jennings has allowed the Federation to award the NPL NNSW Player of Year in his honour.”
“Graham was selected from a number of extremely worthy recipients in accordance with criteria which included National representation, participation in the local league and their positive advocacy of the game.”
The NNSWF Annual Awards Night will also be renamed The Jennings Medal.
Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Careful consideration was also given to linking a former prominent female player to the Herald WPL Player of the Year. The Board determined that further consideration needed to be given to an appropriate criterion which acknowledged that the WPL was nine (9) years young and in the process of transitioning to a division of the National Premier Leagues (NPL) for Women.
NNSWF also declared their commitment to further unearth the game’s rich history through the provision of seed funding to Dr Ian Syson and Athas Zafiris at Victoria University.
Premier Competition fixtures on the weekend prior to Anzac Day at Cessnock City FC, Maitland FC and Adamstown Rosebud FC will honour the selfless contribution of 100’s of brave, young footballers from the Hunter Region who served so proudly in the First World War.
Dr Ian Syson said: “Much of Australia’s soccer history lies forgotten. Of the many forgotten aspects, perhaps the game’s role in military history is most crucial. Establishing the facts of soccer’s military commitment confirms Association football as an unquestionably Australian game.”
“This is especially pertinent in relation to the Newcastle region during the decade of the First World War. Soccer players from around Australia enlisted with gusto and in droves. It is our project to remember them.”
Jeremiah Arthur “Bull” Jennings was just one of the hundreds of brave young footballers who enlisted in the First World War. His remarkable story was brought to life at today’s Men’s Premier Competitions Launch through a brilliant monologue performed by local actor Theo Rule and written by Peter King.
The NPL NNSW division kicks off this weekend, with all eyes on the Grand Final replay between Champions, Lambton Jaffas and Premiers, Edgeworth Eagles at Arthur Edden Oval on Saturday at 2.30pm. Both sides will have their sights firmly set on another appearance in the Grand Final at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday 8th September.
There will no doubt be considerable interest in the new look Charlestown City Blues when they take on perennial front-runners, Hamilton Olympic at Darling Street on Sunday at 6 pm.
Round One of the NEWFM Northern League One will also be dominated by a Grand Final replay between Champions, Cooks Hill United FC and Grand Finalists Belmont Swansea United at the Newcastle Athletics Field at 2.30pm on Sunday.
The push to establish two compliant divisions of the National Premier Leagues in the region continues with the addition of 14’s to the NEWFM Northern League One.