2 Triple B FM at the Sgt Matthew Locke Charity Game 2019
by Deb Spillane
Saturday 23rd February was the day we “bumped” the Governor off-air to make way for a couple of characters called “Dallas and Gravel”, so it’s not a day myself or “Googs” will forget easily.
For the second year in a row we had teamed up with 2NVR, our community radio colleagues from the next valley along, to cover the Sgt Matthew Locke MG Charity match — the annual clash between the Bellingen rugby league team and the Army Thunder.
We had set up OB1, our little blue van, alongside the grandstand at Bellingen Park and myself and “Googs” Goddard were in charge of giving listeners a slice of the pre-match action from the ground with interviews and a bit of good ol’ fashioned thumping rock and roll. “Dallas” and “Gravel”, longtime sports commentators with 2NVR, were in charge of calling the football action once the game
For the second year in a row the Governor of NSW, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC dropped in to have a chat with us. But this year he only just made it. As Governor he had on-field commitments involving the pre-match ceremonies with the organisers, the Army Band, the national anthem and so on. His staff had let us know earlier in the day he would join us immediately after those commitments wrapped up. Trouble was, the ceremonial part of proceedings got underway a little later than expected.
With kick-off due at 5pm by 4:58pm we’d given up on the Governor showing up for his interview when he suddenly popped his head ’round the door of the van and asked if he was too late.
What could we say? To be honest, I had figured the delay in pre-match ceremonies might at least have caused a slight delay to kick-off and so I was thinking we might have a few minutes “wiggle room”. But no. Part way through the Governor’s first answer, the ref’s whistle blew and I saw the first hit-up out of the corner of my eye.
What to do? “Googs” and I had not had time to work out a strategy. I mentioned the match had started and told the Governor we had time for one more question (what I asked, I have no idea!) and then I think I alluded to the fact that nobody — even the Governor — wanted to miss the football so we wrapped it up and crossed to “Dallas and Gravel” who were waiting patiently in the commentary position up the back of the grandstand.
Live radio, eh? As it turned out Governor Hurley (soon to move up from NSW Governor to Governor-General of Australia) was perfectly fine with being hustled off air and most apologetic for turning up so late that our chat had to be curtailed.
Last minute drama, it seemed, was the order of the day. After Bellingen Dorrigo Magpies had led handily midway through the second half the Army Thunder scored three late tries to level at 22-all. They had a chance to convert their last try and win the game, but the goal kick was unsuccessful. It was a shame the local boys couldn’t have held on for what would’ve been their first win since the inaugural match in 2009.
Overall the day was a fabulous success with an estimated crowd of 600 at the ground creating a great atmosphere and many were heard chuckling at the “old school” commentary from “Dallas” and “Gravel” that we had booming out from OB1’s speakers.
While “Googs” and I were a little disappointed not to get more time talking to Governor Hurley we did have coaching staff from each team come on air and give us some insights into preparations for the game. And former Parramatta and Bulldogs player, Reni Maitua, unexpectedly lobbed for an on-air chat. He was at the game representing the NRL.
Most importantly Sgt Matthew Locke, a Bellingen born and raised solider who was killed in Afghanistan, was remembered and celebrated for an 11th year. Furthermore, the match, and the events organised around it, raised money for charities close to Matthew’s heart. His sister, Deb Locke, who works tirelessly each year to ensure everything runs smoothly, says the final figure will be around $20,000.
2bbb looks forward to being involved again next year.