Footy is full of rivalries. And one of WA’s biggest will add another chapter to the history books this weekend. The Reclink Community Cup is back for its fifth instalment, with a side of musos taking on a team of media, all in support of a good cause. And this year ALBY is proud to be involved. Reclink Australia helps disadvantaged people through sport and art, helping to improve health, education and employment opportunities. And WA’s fifth Reclink Community Cup helps to raises funds and awareness for the cause.

This year, the Bandgropers are looking to keep their unbeaten run alive. But the Newshounds can sniff blood, coming within a point of victory last year. Jamie Burnett sat down with Bandgropers power forward Tom “The Fish” Fisher, for a chat about this year’s charity footy game and to hear how the cause has hit home over the journey.  

You’re a veteran of the Reclink Community Cup – how’s the body holding up heading into game five?

The old shoulder is still a bit rough from an injury last year… I’ve had a year to get the body right, and it’s not right. I feel at this stage of my career, I’m a bit like Gary Ablett Sr at Geelong in his final playing days. I rock up, have a beer, watch the other guys train and then just kick goals.

How competitive does it get on field – are there a few scores to settle between the musos and the journos?

There’s always someone who gets white line fever but we stamp that out. There’s a bit of banter between us long term guys. The Bandgropers have won every time so I’m more than prepared for the Newshounds to have a win at some stage. Last year we won by a point, the goal I missed was a winner!

Look it’s going to be close and the Newshounds are a chance. Craig Hollywood is back for the Newshounds, he’s the most competent AFL Scotsman you’ll ever meet. I’ve got to admit he was looking good out on the other track the other night. But you know the Bandgropers always manage to find a way and I think we’ll break some hearts again. 

What’s Reclink all about and what’s it mean to you?

Reclink are about community development for disadvantaged people and rebuilding lives through sport.

Recently I went and volunteered as a goal umpire at a tournament they put on. Some disadvantaged homeless people were there as well as some kids… and they put on this tournament and everyone had a ball. I ended up interviewing this guy called Deano who I’d met. I’d seen him at my local shops before and could tell he was under some tough times. I met him at the tournament and he was just the most amazing guy. I probably would never have approached him at the supermarket, but now every day I say g’day to Deano. I asked him to do a little testimonial for the game and he actually broke down in tears about how much he loved running around and being involved. His old man came over to watch him play the game.

Reclink really is beneficial and they also have this different approach to helping the homeless and disadvantaged by going through sport. It’s really healthy, in terms of the exercise, but it also helps with the social side as well. It’s really important.

Dean told me he’s made new friends and also that social inclusion has been so important. Many of us take that for granted every day.

How’s the Reclink Community Cup grown over the years in WA?

It’s been great. In Melbourne it’s a huge and well established event over 20 years. They get ten to 15-thousand people to Victoria Park in Collingwood.

We started off in Bassendean, and now we’re in Freo which has helped. I’ve really seen it grow and even players are rotating through. New people are coming through and regulars will sit out so others can get involved.

I’ve got a lot more in touch with the charity over the years as well. The money we’ve raised has really helped that grow that in WA, which I’ve seen firsthand.

Where do you see this going in the future?

I’d love for it to keep growing and I think once people go down, they will see it’s a lot of fun. The party afterward is always a hoot. It’s definitely getting there and I think we’re progressing really well.

This year we’ve got Mr Tim Rogers sneaking inside the forward pocket, alongside the Fish… so I might fire a handball off if he’s lucky. I haven’t given off a handball for five years, but I might have to this time. You Am I are in town for a gig, so I fired him an email and he’s a footy tragic, so he’s more than happy to sneak over for a kick.

We love people to get down for the day. It’s cheap, accessible, there are food trucks and kids will have a great time too. They can run on for a kick in the break… my kids come down and laugh at me. There’s music before the game, and bands afterwards with an after party featuring more bands later too.

The actual Reclink guys who played in that tournament will have a half time kick too, so they’re pretty pumped. My mate Dino will be out there and he’s like me… a big-bellied goal kicking forward… so watch out for Dino!