ANNUAL MATCH: The Thunder and the Magpies bring league thrills and a deeper message to sporting fans today. Photo: Trevor Veale
ANNUAL MATCH: The Thunder and the Magpies bring league thrills and a deeper message to sporting fans today. Photo: Trevor Veale

Thunder visit to Magpies' nest fine tribute to fallen digger

RUGBY league is the battle plan but there's a serious message behind today's Sgt Matthew Locke MG Memorial game at Bellingen.

Australian Army Thunder and Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo continue the extraordinary rivalry that's grown in recent seasons as a tribute to the late Matt "Grub" Locke, the former Magpie player killed in action in Afghanistan in 2007.

Last year's match was flooded out but gates open today at 2pm with the main event at 4pm.

Bellingen has Danny Buderus, Michael Crocker, Brett Finch and Jason Ryles in the playing ranks while the Thunder will have sideline support from former Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG, and a glitter of generals issuing orders from the grandstand gallery.

Footy will provide the thrills but funds raised will support Legacy, the Grub Club, local sporting organisations and Mates4Mates, the organisation set up to assist returning servicemen and women handle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Corporal Tyson Murray will be a guest at the match.

Murray went through a rough patch after returning from a theatre of war but is now on track and working through his PTSD.

He is a strong advocate for Mates4Mates, spreading the message of support for current and former soldiers and their families.

"I'm really looking forward to the whole weekend, the rugby league, the golf and, of course, it's a great way to honour Sgt Matthew Locke," Tyson said.

"We want to help raise awareness for people with mental and physical injuries and spread the message that everyone is entitled to the services that Mates4Mates offers.

"Put your hand up if you need help because there's nothing wrong with getting support."

For more information, visit http://www.mates4mates.org.

Gates at Bellingen Park open at 2pm with the main event kicking off at 4pm.



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