Footy stars put on a show
Legends bring big crowds
RUGBY LEAGUE: One of the biggest crowds ever seen for a Whitsunday footy match of any kind turned out to Denison Park in Bowen on Saturday night for the Legends of League.
Organisers estimated up to 3000 people attended throughout the full-day event.
Crowds were treated to local junior matches, as well as the Brahmans A-grade and reserve matches against Moranbah, but the main event was the legends.
Billed as the Australian All Stars against the Whitsunday All Stars, past NRL legends – including Petero Civoniceva and Scott Prince – and former local greats, lined up to take part in a light-hearted match that featured players as referees, ball boys streaming away for tries and John Hopoate re-enacting his ... incident.
Although the Australian side won the match in the end in a back and forth try-fest, it was never about the score.
The games wrapped a week of events for the legends, which included visits to Whitsunday schools and meet and greets that were all aimed at raising funds and putting some smiles on faces after Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Civoniceva got the biggest cheer of all the players on the night. A true rugby league legend, the prop played more than 300 NRL games, as well as 33 games for Queensland in State of Origin and another 45 for Australia.
“Awesome,” is how Civoniceva described the scene.
“This is what it’s all about. Obviously there’s been a lot of hardship with everything that happened during the cyclone, but I think for us ... it’s that chance to come up and show our support to the community and raise some funds. It’s wonderful to be part of it,” he said.
“We’ve had great careers through rugby league and the most special thing about it is the community that supports the game, so it’s fantastic that although we’ve hung the boots up, we get a chance to use rugby league as a platform to show our support.”
The free event asked for a gold coin donation at the door, with raffles at half-time and the players auctioning off their jerseys after the game, with all proceeds going to Cyclone Debbie disaster relief.
LEGEND OF LEAGUE: Australian All Star Scott Prince is welcomed to the field on Saturday night in Bowen.