League of their own
THE Men of League Foundation Northern Rivers has been quick to break through the local barriers since forming away from the Gold Coast and Tweed Foundation six months ago.
It has already picked up 256 of its own members and has held two fundraising functions to take up the charity cause from where it left off with the Tweed while still maintaining the help program for former players ‘down on their luck’.
In their short association with the Tweed, ‘home-grown’ members ensured money raised in the area stayed in the area with a sizeable donation to the Biala Special School, and $4000 cheques to Our Kids and the Far North Coast Surf Life Saving Branch.
Their annual golf day and annual race day at the Ballina Jockey Club are two of their biggest windfalls on the fundraising calendar.
The golf day was held with more than 150 players in October, and now it’s the turn of the BJC race day to boost the foundation’s working coffers.
That will happen on Saturday with a seven-race program that has drawn excellent nominations in the final lead-up to the Boxing Day meeting and the start of Ballina’s New Year racing carnival.
Saturday’s feature race is the Conange and Associates Men of League Foundation Cup Open Handicap (1400m) which will almost certainly pit Grafton’s Montanna Hilton against the Ballina-trained Cedar Manor and primed cup contender River Street after acceptances on Thursday.
The Andrew Pilling-trained River Street has already won the Casino Cup and the Bangalow Cup and finished second in the Byron Bay Cup.
Former Kangaroo tough man Noel Kelly, Australian rugby league legend John Peard, Balmain’s World Cup and Kangaroo representative Geoff Starling, former ARL judiciary commissioner Jim Hall and Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright have all accepted their invitations to be guests at the meeting.
“We were deluged with offers of sponsorship for each of the races, and in the end the cup race sponsor came out of Brisbane,” Men of League Northern Rivers president Phil Gresham said.
“The hotel broking group was quick to contact our patron and former ARL chief Bob Abbott when they heard about the meeting.
“Our other sponsors include the Australian Hotel, Ballina Pipeline Construction, Ballina Kitchen Wizards, Koellner Steel, Rob Sironen Constructions and Tony Cicchinelli. It’s an impressive line-up.” he said.
Mr Gresham said the race meeting was an important lead-up to a membership drive his foundation was targeting in the Lismore, Casino, Kyogle and Grafton areas after the new year.