The Wick behind the lens: Ric McLallen

Fri, Aug 27, 2021, 1:33 AM
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Ric and good friend Jeff Sayle (right). Photo: Randwick Rugby Club
Ric and good friend Jeff Sayle (right). Photo: Randwick Rugby Club

Long-time Randwick Rugby photographer and volunteer, Ric McLallen, was sitting in the Coogee Oval grandstand yelling support toward his beloved Wicks well before he was their official snapper.

Nevertheless, the Wicks diehard admits some things have remained constant. 

“I still do yell at the players some Saturdays,” he said. 

“I’m a bit closer to the action these days so perhaps they can hear me.”

McLallen credits most of his rugby service to neighbour and 1989 Ken Catchpole Medalist, Simon Poidevin.

In 2013, Poidevin invited McLallen to assist with the odd job at Coogee Oval. However, it wasn’t long before McLallen saw an opportunity to apply his years working in the film and television industry to use. 

“For most of my life I have been connected to the visual arts in some form or another,” he said. 

“I talked to 'Poido' after a Saturday spent burning sausages and asked whether I could bring my camera to matches. As always, he was generous and said yes.

“I have been applying my visual skills ever since, trying to make the Wicks look the best I can.” 

McLallen says that while he continues to fine-tune his sports snapping skills, he upholds stringent game day standards to replicate the dedication shown by the Wicks players he admires.

Each Saturday will begin at 8:30am, helping to set up the ground before plonking down to capture every moment from each Randwick match that day. 

“Early on when shooting the pics, I decided that all of the players who turned up to pull on the green jersey deserved to have their effort captured,” he said. 

“This means that I have to show up and put in just as hard so that the whole club can benefit.

“It is hard to do. I have often been a tad embarrassed by my photography skills when compared to some of the best in the business. 

“But when the image is right and it captures the entirety of the action, it’s a fantastic feeling.” 

This wholistic and selfless attitude is one mirrored by another Wicks legend, Jeff Sayle, who McLallen says inspired him to embrace the volunteer ethos around the club. 

Ric knew of Sayle well before the pair had officially met, however it wasn’t until he became involved as a volunteer that the friendship between McLallen and Sayle began to grow. 

Acting as the ‘kit man’ for a period, McLallen and Sayle would often spend Saturdays travelling to away games in the club truck, allowing the Randwick stalwart to impart his passion for rugby upon McLallen during the drive. 

“'Sayley' was a delight to work with and brought me up to speed on all things that represented the quality bearing of a Randwick man,” he said. 

“He was full of the latest news from the stratosphere of rugby and usually told me with a great belly laugh. 

“As the years progressed, he time and time again showed me the value of doing all the hard work out of sight from the boys so they could get on with playing the game.

“He provided me with a real lesson in what being a volunteer means and I am grateful for his friendship and his honest ideas.” 

At Sayle’s funeral, McLallen was given the privilege of being the first photographer in to capture the day. Despite the sadness of the occasion, McLallen credits it as his most fond Randwick memory. 

For a man who concedes he knew nothing about rugby upon arriving in Australian in 1968, McLallen’s passion for the sport and capturing its every intricate moment is now profound. 

The happy snapper says the club, players, fans and friendships mean the world and have been instrumental in his later life. 

“I love the fact they allow me to hang out with brilliant athletes and the terrific management of this world class club,” he said. 

“I treasure the fact the boys give me a pat on the back while I’m perched on the try line. I always ask them to come back past with the ball in hand during the game. 

“I’ll never forget the pearl of wisdom Jeff imparted on me for life; Win or lose, stop whinging, cause we will have another game next week.”