Magpies and Thunder armed and ready for memorial clash
A FESTIVAL of football is set to break out in Bellingen today in memory of Sgt Matthew Locke MG.
The annual match between the Australian Army Thunder and the local Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo team, first played in 2009, has become a full day of rugby league celebrating the life of a local soldier killed in action in Afghanistan.
With no defence force championships this year the Navy and Air Force teams will once again play on the big day.
The reigning Group 2 premier South Grafton will play against the Navy Tridents while fellow Group 2 team Macksville will pit their skills against the Air Force Jets.
Prior to these matches Woolgoolga will play a trial match against Uralla.
But it's the main game where the home team plays that is the big feature.
Kicking off at 6pm, this game is the only game the Army Thunder plays against a civilian team, indicating the high esteem local Sgt Locke is held by the Australian Army.
Proof of this will be Victoria Cross recipient Corp. Ben Roberts once again being in attendance at Bellingen Park.
"This memorial game is a great way for us to acknowledge Matty's sacrifice and show our appreciation for it," Mr Roberts-Smith VC said.
"The local community has really gotten behind the day and help grow it into a significant event. Overall its always a great opportunity for us to get together and remember our mate."
As usual The NSW Governor His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd), and Mrs Hurley will be on the sidelines as will another Victoria Cross recipient in Mark Donaldson VC.
Magpies coach Troy Robinson said his team will feature former Test and Origin player Tom Learoyd-Lahrs but it's the local players he's excited about as the season approaches.
"We're rebuilding the club and there's good numbers in all three grades plus the Ladies League Tag team," Robinson said.
"Cam Blair is back at the club and Daniel Slater is a great pick-up as well."
Today's action starts at 11am with the main game kicking off at 6pm.
SGT MATTHEW LOCKE MG CHARITY EVENT
11am: Bellinger Valley Dorrigo v Macksville under-18s
12.15pm: Bellingen v Uralla Women's Tag
1.30pm: Woolgoolga v Uralla
3pm: South Grafton v Navy
4.30pm: Macksville v Air Force
6pm: Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo v Army Thunder
- Also Brad Fittler's Hogs For The Homeless will be in attendance and maybe playing a game of nines.
- Junior league will be playing at the half time breaks and the Army Band will be in attendance.