Leon Brilman is one of the many volunteers who have committed countless hours in support of football across the Northern Beaches.
He treasures his time spent playing, officiating, and working hard behind the scenes with the CC Strikers committee.
Brilman’s playing days commenced from the age of five representing Manly Soccer Club at Miller’s Reserve before he made the short trip over to David Thomas to represent Manly Vale for 12 years in the MWFA Premier League.
He also took up refereeing at the age of 14 and has continued to man the whistle ever since.
For the last 12 years Leon has been involved in the Strikers club, where he is their current groundsman, gear steward and MWFA delegate.
“I just love being involved with it and just helping run the club, it’s brilliant,” he says. “We always need more volunteers.
“Building the new clubhouse and a new extra full-size field at St Matthews Farm were big achievements.
“Strikers is getting bigger and bigger every year. This year, we’ve got 1500 players and 138 teams.”
Leon is part of a group of familiar faces who can almost always be seen on sidelines of CC Strikers Premier League and Manly United NPL matches – where their vantage point earned the nickname ‘Cromer Kop’ during the club’s 2017 run to the state championship.
Leon embraces the community tradition that these matches continue to promote.
“When I was down at Manly I used to go down and watch my coaches play for Manly’s Premier League team,” he remembers.
“We’re growing a real community around Cromer and Collaroy to get down there and watch Premier League.
“The crowd is getting bigger and bigger, and even everyone’s just enjoying getting down to watch the boys play.”
While he won’t say he has hung up the boots just yet, Leon has taken a well-earned year off playing in 2020.
One highlight that stands out over the years is his man-of-the-match performance between the sticks for the O45s select side who took on Brazilian touring team Manezinhos da ilha in 2016.
Another favourite memory is the 2004 O35s grand final, despite his side’s unfortunate defeat.
“It ended 0-0 and we lost some penalties so I got blamed for losing!,” he recalls.
The goalkeeper has been on the receiving and of his fair share of banter of the years.
“My nickname is Teflon because they reckon I can’t catch a ball,” Leon jokes.
“Or magnet because I catch a ball like a magnet to wood! Everyone gives it to me but I don’t care – it’s all part of the fun.”
Moving forward, Leon foresees a prolonged involvement in the Strikers community.
“I hope to stay on for as long as I can, I’ve always enjoyed setting up the fields for the kids on Saturday and Sunday,” he reflects.
“My mom and dad were always on the committee so it basically just sort of rubbed off on me.
“My dad built the canteen down at Millers- they’ve always been involved with community sport and I’m just following that through.”