by Brendan Gallagher
Adam Spencer, the ABC breakfast radio host, has already started recruiting for next year. “I’m going after Hayden Ballantine, Fremantle’s serial pest,” he says. “He’s done Q&A so he counts as media.” He also plans to get Swans player Adam Goodes on a program to make him eligible. “I’m going to use all the tentacles of the ABC to build this team.”
He is using the national broadcaster to build a football empire for a worthy cause. It follows on from his captaining the Sydney Sailors to a 7-4-46 to 5-7-37 win over the Western Walers in the inaugural Sydney Community Cup, played at Henson Oval on Sunday, March 18.
A similar Australian Rules match to benefit charity has been played in Melbourne for the last 20 years. Since 2009, the event has been hosted by Reclink, a charity that aims at enhancing the lives of the community’s most vulnerable members through sports and social activities.
Now, in line with the entry of the Greater Western Sydney Giants into the AFL premiership this year, the Sydney Community Cup is inserting itself into Rugby League’s heartland of inner-west Sydney.
The Sailors, comprised mostly of media personalities, included a large number of Victorian-born Sydney-based media personalities such as radio stars Scott Dooley and Alex Dyson as well as Ryan Fitzgerald, radio host and ex-AFL footballer.
The Walers, made up entirely of musicians and captained by singer-songwriter Dan Sultan, included such journeyman as AC/DC drummer Mark Evans and Keish de Silva, from The Hard Ons. The Celibate Rifles provided half-time entertainment.
Adam Spencer thinks the event was a success. “To get 2500 people out to a local oval for a Sunday afternoon game of footy was just incredible,” he says. He also emphasised the great community feel. “You have full-on rock pigs turning up to see the Celibate Rifles and you have six-year old kids playing kick-to-kick before the game and then leading us out at half- time. It’s just tremendous.”
Adrian Panozzo, Reclink CEO, agrees and said the organisation is committed to making it an annual event.
“Our motto is to always go where we’re invited, then never leave,” he says. “We’ve already received a lot of great emails. And the first year is the hardest; after that people are more willing to get onboard.”
Adam Spencer thinks the event can only help the AFL brand in Sydney. “We make the Swans look good,” he says. “And we’ll definitely be back next year to defend our title.”