Three months ago a beautifully timed drop-punt to no one in particular marked the start of a journey that would transform a group of enthusiastic individuals into a community of friends.
The journey that ensued has been inspiring. To have been involved has been an honour and one I hope to recreate in twelve months time.
Now in its second year in the great state of South Australia, The Reclink Community Cup has a long and decorated history. It began in Victoria some 23-years ago with the aim to bring disadvantaged Australians back into the community.
It’s an annual Australia-wide tradition and the list of volunteers, organisers, players, sponsors and supporters involved is longer than an Alex McKenzie left foot bomb. McKenzie, for those uninitiated, was the inspirational captain of the 2016 Adelaide Anchors.
As the two teams ran out on Norwood Oval on Sunday, the atmosphere was energetic. Reigning champions The Rockatoos had replaced a few of their defected players by bringing in a couple of prized recruits, including Best On Ground from the Melbourne edition, Ross Elliott. He reenacted those heroics by taking out the Best On Ground here, too.
But that wasn’t all. They managed to sway one of South Australia’s iconic Anchors, ABC’s Peter Goers, to their coaching panel. A decision that raised many eyebrows in the Anchors camp (with many questioning why they would want him?).
It was a tight contest for the first half, with scores level at half time; five goals, three behinds a piece. The Anchors returned to the field a player down when their talisman Full Forward and former Adelaide Crow, Nathan Bassett, hit the road to catch another game of footy. He had booted a few goals to that point and was looking mighty fine overhead.
The void left by him was filled by The Anchors mascot. His efforts were valiant but he couldn’t add to the scoreboard when it mattered, with the only score in the third quarter going to The Rockatoos. There was controversy post-game with a rumour spreading around The Wheatsheaf that the wearer of that outfit was in fact a Rockatoo at heart. It remains unclear as to whether this was true or just a rumour.
The final half of the game seemed to go faster than Rockatoo Dylby McCullough sprinting toward a cold beer. The fourth-quarter began with some impressive pressure from The Anchors, with a set shot after set shot dominating the first few minutes. But the relentless pressure from the Rockatoos was too much for the Anchors, who couldn’t pin back the required margin to take victory.
Only as the final siren sounded did the true meaning of the game really emerge. As the two teams walked arm in arm from one end of the oval to the other, it was clear that the real winner of the day was the community (and yes, credit to The Rockatoos).
It was a fiercely competitive bout between two groups of people from varying backgrounds all aiming to achieve the same goal; to raise awareness and much needed funds for Reclink Australia.
Reclink Australia are a fantastic charity, their work is inspiring and the Community Cup is just one way that we can contribute back to our community.
Sydney, it’s your turn next. Maybe you'll also get the thrill of a streaking or two like we did.