Whorouly residents have called it a “huge” and “exciting” development for the town’s football club, with AFL legend Eddie Betts donning the team’s colours and playing for the side over the weekend.
Hundreds turn out to watch Eddie Betts play at Whorouly’s Recreation Reserve on Saturday
Whorouly has had a tough few years with COVID and bushfires
The club’s treasurer says Saturday’s gate takings tripled with the AFL player taking the field
Hundreds of spectators gathered at the town’s Recreation Reserve on Saturday to watch the iconic Carlton and Adelaide Crows player dazzle up front.
While the side lost 49–65 to their opponents, Goorambat, the day provided a much-needed boost for the team, club, and the community.
Whorouly Football Netball Club president Eddie Costenaro said having Betts play for them was “absolutely huge”.
“This is just huge. Everybody is just that excited. Massive call on him — he’s an absolute gun for what he’s doing.”
‘Small towns really need something like this’
Whorouly player Daniel White is Betts’ brother-in-law and said the former AFL player promised to come up and play for the local team once he retired.
“Last Friday night he rang up and said, ‘I’ll be up next weekend, can you organise a game?'” he said.
“So I put a call into Ed [Costenaro] to see if we could get him a spot and sure enough we got him on the field.”
He said it was a funny moment when the team watched Betts come into the change room on Saturday.
“It’s just the effect he has on everybody being such a legend of the game.”
A number of former AFL players, including Betts, Jarryd Roughead and Mick Malthouse, have recently helped out a number of community clubs across the state that have struggled to bounce back from the impacts of COVID.
Whorouly coach Riley Calvene said he hoped the trend would continue.
“To get ex-AFL players is just huge for clubs. A lot of small towns really need something like this,” he said.
Betts said it was important to bring some joy to the community and get kids to come out and watch the game.
“They might never get to see an AFL player in their lives,” he said.
Funding and visitation boost for club
Whorouly club treasurer Ruth Kneebone said she had never seen a local crowd like Saturday’s.
She said gate takings were a lot better than usual.
“Our average gate is around just over $2,000. Today it was over $7,000,” she said.
“A bit more than three times our normal gate.”
Ms Kneebone said it was exciting to see visitors from towns like Kergunyah and Wahgunyah come out to the match as well.
“[Funds] coming into our community rather than the community supporting itself. That makes a big difference.”