“I’ve gone through a hard ordeal the past two years with some major medical issues,” said Gord Dunphy, Jocelyn’s husband.
“My wife, who gives me great support, felt the best therapy was to do something I like.”
There was no doubt that something had to be soccer.
Dunphy has been involved in the game all his life and the St. Lawrence native had been commissioner of the Molson Challenge Cup provincial senior men’s league before health concerns, including back problems — he’s had one surgery and will need another — forced him to resign from the position after last season.
But his wife’s prescription got him thinking about how he could get back in the game.
Fifteen years ago, Dunphy began doing colour commentary on CHCM’s radio broadcasts of Challenge Cup provincial and national playoff matches. He had also taken university-level courses in multimedia and had been covering soccer, in particular Challenge Cup, in an on-line blog since 2008.
He decided to bundle all of that experience and know-how into a live-stream of Challenge Cup games on his Facebook site (www.facebook.com/gord.dunphy).
“With the technology of today, I felt (the live-streaming of games) might be just the thing, especially since it wouldn’t be too demanding,” he said.
His first call was of a game at the Gushue Complex between Mount Pearl and the Canada Games team.
“It was so foggy, I couldn’t see across the field,” Dunphy noted.
But it became clear his on-line broadcasts were just the sort of tonic he needed.
“For some reason, when I get to the field, my spirits get lifted so high I forget about my ailments,” said Dunphy, who concentrates on contests involving the Games team — “They are the future of Newfoundland and Labrador soccer” — and his beloved Big Blue, his hometown St. Lawrence Laurentians.
“That’s where my true colours are… and my heart and soul,” he said unapologetically.
“Now that I’m not the (Challenge Cup) commissioner and not tied in with the NLSA (provincial soccer association), I can really show my true colours.
“The other thing is that there is no other fanbase at the Challenge Cup level in this country bigger than the one for the Laurentians. It’s nation-wide, and in some cases, even exists outside the country.
“We are offering a service for those people. I have to say that I think that before this, there’s been a bit of a disconnect, for the simple reason that in St. Lawrence today here are only about 1,000 or 1,200 people. There are so many Laurentians fans living or working elsewhere. Now, they have a way of getting some exposure to their team.
“At the same time, I have to say that opponents of the Canada Games and Laurentians are getting more exposure, too.”
Dunphy offers a short pre-game show and carries his coverage through the half-time intermission, sometimes adding guests like Rick Farrell, with whom he’s worked on the CHCM broadcasts.
“I’ll bring someone in if I think they’ll be comfortable doing it,” said Dunphy, “and as long as there is nothing said out of line.”
Other than that, though, it’s a one-man show, done through his phone and using his own data plan.
“You’ve got to multitask and that can be tough,” said Dunphy who has been approached asking if he was interested in a sponsorship.
“But I’m not doing this as a money-making proposition, I want to do it for the right seasons. I want to do it for soccer and the love of the game.”
And for his viewership, which — according to responses — stretches to the Middle East in Qatar and Egypt.
“I’ve received nothing but positive responses, from fans and players, too.
“And I don’t think it is interfering with the fan base who normally attend games. After all, admission to Challenge Cup games is just $5 and children under 12 get in free,” he said, noting some people who attend games follow his commentary on their phones.
But he says it’s mostly for those who can’t get to games, including those confined to hospitals.
“I like to think people like my commentary. It’s not all serious. I have some fun with it and hopefully, I’m bringing some personality to it as well.”
Part of that personality is expressed in the hats Dunphy wears on his broadcasts. At the suggestion of fan Madeline Kelly, he wears a different one every game.
Think Don Cherry, but with headgear instead of suits.
He even has a sou’wester ready to go. And there is a good chance he’ll need it, given that the only Challenge Cup venue offering a sheltered broadcast location is King George V in St. John’s.
The hat business has become such that his family has made it a habit to shop for new chapeaus for use on what’s become known as the “Gord-Cast.”
Dunphy’s hoping they might extend that search to other items.
“I am looking at bigger and better equipment (for the broadcast), but I’m leaving that to the kids to get me that for Christmas and birthdays,” he said with a chuckle.