New Bellingen coach Ryan O’Connor scoring a try in this year’s match.
New Bellingen coach Ryan O’Connor scoring a try in this year’s match.

Magpies to unveil new look side

BELLINGEN’S new look rugby league outfit will go on public display for the first time at the Matthew Locke Memorial Shield match on February 26 next year.

The Magpies will play Australian Army Thunder in the third annual clash between the sides, with the tally one win each.

Under captain-coach Ryan O’Connor, the club will send out star recruit, former Newcastle Knights halfback Claude Gordon, and a trio of newcomers from New Zealand.

While president Josh White is still to release their identities, all three are believed to have played first grade during 2010 in the Bartercard Cup competition.

“I’ve had scouts doing the rounds to check out the talent over there and the reports have come back good,” he said.

“It’s a pity we’ve still got to wait another seven weeks for footy to start.”

Bellingen will wear special jerseys minted for the occasion, which will be auctioned after the match.

Sport will again mix with charity fundraising to honour Bellingen local and former Magpie player, Sgt Matthew ‘Grub’ Locke, who was shot and killed while on duty in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province on October 25, 2007.

Proceeds will aid a variety of local community causes and The Grub Club, the organisation set up by the Locke family to support projects in Timor Leste and Uruzgan, the two main theatres of war where Matt served.

Last month, the club donated $500 to the Escola Pre-Secondaria Foho Ailico School in Bei Cala, Timor Leste.

Still to come is a major project to build a new high school, with plans and costings being undertaken.

In Afghanistan this year, The Grub Club has delivered educational supplies to four schools in Tarin Kowt.

Project organiser is Grub’s sister, Debbie, who said proceeds from the 2011 activities will also assist Legacy, Bellingen Junior League, North Beach Surf Life Saving Club and Urunga nippers.

“The match is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever and we’re also raffling a Holden Barina with tickets on sale at $5 each,” she said.

“Volunteers will be at Park Beach Plaza selling tickets for a week, starting from January 3.”

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