Footy stars put on a show

Leg­ends bring big crowds

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT - Dane Lillingstone dane.lillingstone@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

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.

PHOTO: DANE LILLINGSTONE

LE­GEND OF LEAGUE: Aus­tralian All Star Scott Prince is wel­comed to the field on Satur­day night in Bowen.

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