When South East United skipper Tony Damm leads his team out to face Nelson in the Lakoseljac Cup at KGV on Monday morning, it will mark our senior footballing debut, capping a meteoric rise for a club which only played its first social football match in 2015.
It will also be a special day for the midfield maestro, who joined the club in 2017, as he makes his 50th appearance. He registered his first goal of the season – and 15th for the club – in the Summer Cup A game with Metro at the weekend (below), though he ended the game under an injury cloud, having been forced from the field late on with a slight groin strain.
We sat down with the club captain to get his thoughts on the club’s first season in the second tier of Tasmanian football.
Tell us about your football career pre-SEUFC.
I remember my first football medallion in 1991 so I have been playing a long time, I am pretty sure most of my teammates this year weren’t even born then! I played for Kingborough right up until my mid-twenties.
I was lucky enough to have Charlie White as my coach who encouraged me to attend youth training clinics, Stephen Chetcuti was training the younger players which changed the way I viewed and played the game.
From there I soon was integrated into the seniors where I played what was known then as the under 23’s, then Premier League Reserves and finally the Premier League. Unfortunately, when I was 19, I suffered a pretty bad injury from a tackle in indoor soccer, tearing the ligaments in my ankle, and it was years before it felt 100 percent again. After that injury and several more sprained ankles, it was all social football from then on.
It was a largely disappointing season last year, although our top social team started to come on strong towards the end. How optimistic are you that we can make the transition to Southern Championships this year?
I don’t think you can really compare the two. Social is exactly that – it’s a different looking side each week, depending on availability. We have a lot of quality coming through from the youth setup, and I expect us to make it difficult for any team when they play us. But I don’t think we should compare ourselves too closely to the other teams in the league this year. I believe this year will be about the young talent we have learning from the experienced players and building on that and into the future.
What will be your measure of a successful season?
We have the quality to win more games that we lose this year and we should aim for that, simple as that!
We have an awful lot of young players in our squad. Do you think they are ready?
They did exceptionally well when they were introduced into the top social tier at the back end of last season, and they are definitely ready to take their game to the next level. I think that patience for the young players will be the key. We need to focus on teamwork and then hopefully play that free-flowing football they were used to in youth football. But I am also looking to them for a bit of individual brilliance!
You’ve been with the club a couple of years now, and have been bestowed the honour of captaining us through our maiden Southern Championships campaign. What excites you most about this coming season?
This is a first for the club. It’s going to be an exciting season for everyone. I am really looking forward to us making a big impact on the Southern Championship. Here I was, thinking of slowing down but, now I have the opportunity to play competitive football again, I intend to make the most of it while I can.
As for what excites me most – right now I have to say Nelson on Monday. Bring it on!
South East United take on Nelson in the qualifying round of the Lakoseljac Cup at KGV, Glenorchy, on Monday 11th March (kick off 10:30am).