‘Rogers, ya TRY HARD’: Why the Reclink Community Cup rules, according to its legendary veterans
14.06.2022

‘Rogers, ya TRY HARD’: Why the Reclink Community Cup rules, according to its legendary veterans

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Words by Bryget Chrisfield
Photography by Carbie Warbie

On the eve of the Reclink Community Cup’s much-delayed return, we check in with legends from both rival teams – Adalita (Magic Dirt), Kram (Spiderbait) and Tim Rogers (You Am I) from The Rockdogs plus Annaliese Redlich (3RRR’s ‘Neon Sunset’) and Simona Castricum (artist, DJ, broadcaster) from The Megahertz – to discuss what makes this family and dog-friendly event such a highlight on every self-respecting music and/or footy fan’s social calendar.

Widely regarded as the most important footy match of the year, the Reclink Community Cup is finally back in 2022 after being scrapped for the last two years due to you know what. Have The Rockdogs (musos) dried their eyes yet after The Megahertz (3RRR and PBS FM) scraped in a narrow one-point victory in 2019? Probably not. But when this ‘so Melbourne’, one-of-a-kind celebration of community, spectacular live music and (predominantly) craptacular footy makes its welcome return to Victoria Park this weekend, you’ll definitely wanna be rugged-up against the elements with a cheap tinny in one hand and a steaming hot pie in the other.

In fact, the Reclink Community Cup is the only actual AFL footy game that many hopelessly devoted music lifers – who simply don’t have room in their lives for anything sport-related (guilty!) – attend. “As an avid music fan who grew up with the incorrect belief that sport and music didn’t mix, the culture of the Cup was a revelation,” 3RRR’s Annaliese Redlich (Team Megahertz) admits. “I’m a Community Cup jack of all trades, having bobbed around a few spots on ground for ten years now, starting as the 3RRR Volunteers Coordinator, collecting donations. The following year, I was thankfully forced to lace up my non-existent boots and learn the game… This year will be my second in the announcer box as I call the game with icons of 3RRR and PBS FM.”

Read Melbourne’s most comprehensive range of features and interviews here.

For Redlich, becoming a Megahert also had obvious health benefits (“training kept my Sundays on the straight and narrow”), but it’s “the joy of meeting the faces of the voices of [her] community radio brethren” that she most treasures from her continued involvement with the Reclink Community Cup: “The Cup has given me a long list of friends and bandmates, particularly my PBS FM sisters Ruby Soho and Emma Peel whom I can’t imagine my life without. The Cup has served me a handball from Paul Kelly, and a spot singing in the kid’s band with Murray Wiggle, no less.

“So how does one explain the mélange of people, joy and opportunity that being part of the Cup affords?” Redlich asks and answers; “simply, that life is richer for having it.”

“The Community Cup has been significant to me as a place to find a way to play football as a transgender woman,” fellow ex-Megahert Simona Castricum (artist, DJ, broadcaster) says. “There is this photo of me and The Rockdogs ruck contesting the opening bounce, capacity crowd to the rafters of the Sherrin Stand in the background as the ball sits in suspended animation. It says so much about how grassroots community football is leading in visibility and representation. But in the future of sport, trans and gender diverse people should be able reach their full potential.

“My favourite Community Cup memory was my first game in 2017 wearing number 35. It’s a famous number at Victoria Park where I spent so much of childhood, and a dream to wear as a Collingwood supporter.”

A record-breaking crowd of 12,000 attended the previous, sold-out 25th anniversary edition of the Reclink Community Cup in 2019, which raised $170,000 for Reclink: a social inclusion program that facilitates sporting, recreation and arts opportunities for disadvantaged Australians. After The Megahertz claimed victory by just a single point – breaking a dry spell that saw their rivals, The Rockdogs, taking home the Cup for three consecutive previous years – the vibe was electric when the always-excellent Magic Dirt took the stage to perform the Cup’s headline set. Adalita (ex-Team Rockdogs) recalls, “The last Community Cup we (Magic Dirt) played we actually hung out and had a beer with Albo [Anthony Albanese], which was pretty amazing. He was super-nice and was loving all the music.

“Magic Dirt and I have been part of the Community Cup for a long time, playing at quite a few over the years. Getting the call to do the show is always such a badge of honour. And It’s just so nice to be part of such an iconic event, it really brings so many people together where normally I wouldn’t think people would mix – sports and art. It’s like a festival with a footy match in the middle.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play with my solo band, too, and I remember one year I invited a couple of my little friends to come up and dance along while we played and everyone just loved it.

“It’s like a festival with a footy match in the middle. I love the atmosphere, it’s so fun and friendly and really relaxed, and a great way to catch up with all my music pals.”

Interestingly, Albanese actually stars in ex-Rockdog Kram’s fave-memory sizzle reel from the 2019 Reclink Community Cup as well. “Last time I played was at Victoria Park, now the traditional home of the Cup – the ground where Nicky Winmar made his legendary stand,” he recounts, referencing the former St Kilda player’s historic response to racist spectators back in 1993. “The now 31st PM of Australia, Albo, was there with us as we lined up before the game. I gave him a big hug.” Kram then describes the view from the field: “I watched in awe at the packed ground of 12,000 beautiful Melburnians… like some crazy rock footy festival. I looked around at our forward line and alongside me was Tim Rogers and Ash Naylor. I remember thinking, ‘Fuck me, how good is this?’

Kram’s favourite memory?

“Elsternwick Park – I don’t remember the year. Dan Sultan’s perfect pass from the centre to me at centre half forward. He was captain and Paul Kelly was coach. Ross Knight on a wing did his hammy in the first minute. Poor sod. Bad Seed Mick Harvey on the flank, lookin’ cool as. Freddy Negro sang the national anthem as only the legend himself could.

“I was feeling really good that day, but unfortunately my lead to Dan’s pass was a tad early, and too enthusiastic. So I had to backtrack to mark the ball, and in the process I got smashed from behind. I felt horrible pain in my side but was more pissed off that I missed what I should have taken.

“Took a bunch of painkillers and kept going in the second half. I strangely played well after that, but could barely run. Just lots and lots of handballs. I think it was the same game some blokes set up a hotdog stand on the ground in the forward pocket and a streaker popped in to purchase one on his way around.

“Dermie Brereton came in the rooms that game, too. Said he liked my Copa Mundials and used to have a pair himself. We won that day. I remember the words ‘Champagne Football’ being uttered from the 3RRR lads calling the game.

“We celebrated heartily, and all headed to some bar close by deep into the night. I think once the Rachmaninov had worn off, I started to feel weird. I had to go home.

“I woke up next day in agony. Went to the doctor, and discovered I had two fractured ribs. It took months to heal, but it was all worth it – as it always is. Anything for The Rockdogs.

“The Community Cup makes me sentimental about the past and what this great game has meant to me. But nothing compares to the pure mad crazy beauty and loving community of the event and the day itself. You feel so much part of something that is incomparable in Australian culture and really is the greatest day of the year. Go Dogs, and long live the Cup!”

“I used to refer to the Cup as the ‘C-List event of the Melbourne Social Calendar year,” You Am I frontman Tim Rogers – who sported the yellow, red and black Rockdogs guernsey on the reg – weighs in, before issuing a retraction: “Bullshit, all those who dig in and make it the most fun of all days are total A-Listers.”

No doubt players from both The Rockdogs and The Megahertz catch a bit of white line fever on the day, but Rogers crowns himself the king of this condition. After admitting his “deliriously great memories of Cup games are mixed with some wincing ones”, Rogers continues, “Both are associated with the transformative power of sports. I’ve had a few forms of white line fever and both are fraught with danger. The wincing memories are ones when the lure of competitiveness and team allegiance has caused some brusque decisions and behaviour. So be it. I have some concussions and persistent injuries as reminders to play the game in the spirit it encourages.”

While he won’t be taking part in the 2022 Reclink Community Cup, Rogers fondly remembers issuing “sheepish apologies to opposition players and promises to meet up and have a laugh to wash any tempestuousness away” post-game. “By FAR my favourite time is after the game chatting to strangers and old friends alike – some photographs, some kicks with kids – some of whom I hope are playing this year. A lot of giggling and hugs.”

Having proudly rocked the red and white Megahertz guernsey during many previous Community Cups, Redlich describes “the rush of being on a field getting egged on by a huge crowd for my rudimentary footy skills” as “both marvellous and hilarious”. “Adrenaline makes match day a blur,” she adds, “thus I’m forever thankful for the photographic evidence of my ‘don’t argue’ as supplied here for all to see. It is possible this was down to the angle and well-placed arm of my fellow Megahert Tony Wilson, but photos don’t lie right?”

“It’s been my privilege to be [Rockdogs] captain in the past, at the Junction Oval,” Kram reminisces. “I loved my rivalry in the centre with Sam Pang, for me the best Megahertz player ever, and I even won the [Steve] Connolly medal once at Punt Road. Played drums in my footy boots at half time that day and still got Best On Ground. It’s one of my proudest moments and I placed that medal in my grandfather’s coffin when he died – he was a great player in the 1930s and an inspiration to me. Still the best at the dropkick I’ve ever seen when he was in his ‘70s.”

Given that this event hasn’t gone ahead these last two years, we can only imagine how much newbie Megahertz and Rockdogs are gagging to finally pop their Reclink Community Cup cherries. And, let’s face it, these brave clowns will very likely fit into one of the following two categories: a) fitter than they’ve even been thanks to punishing lockdown fitness regimes or b) sloths who rolled off the couch just in time to ‘train’ for the 26th edition of this much-loved charity footy game.

To conclude, Rogers has some sound advice to share with all players making their Reclink Community Cup debut: “For any new players, please be aware that the nerves you have before playing are natural and harness that for energy to go and have fun playing. Can assure you that this old showgirl has NEVER been as nervous before running out to play. No gig as big. You’ll get heckled and bumped around. Good. Get that first bump and tackle early, it’ll shake those nerves ALL OUTTA YA better than any swig of hooch. One year as we were running out a fella yelled in my ear, ‘Rogers, ya TRY HARD!’ The point was accepted but after the game I couldn’t help muse: ‘Yeah… We tried real hard’. GET A DOG UP YA and have a giggle with a stranger/your new best mate.”

2022 theme:

In honour of distinguished Gunditjmara/Bundjalung singer-songwriter Archie Roach (AM), his enduring musical legacy and charitable contributions over the decades, the 26th Reclink Community Cup’s theme is ‘Let Love Rule’ (after Roach’s seventh album and song of the same name).

Set times:

12pm Parnsip
1.10pm Izy
3pm Ausecuma Beats
4.50pm Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
5.50pm Private Function
7pm Afterparty

The 2022 Reclink Community Cup goes down Sunday 19 at Victoria Park, Abbotsford. Tickets are on sale now through Oztix: $25+ BF for adults; $5+BF for 3–16-year-olds; and free for under 3s. For all the info, head here.

This article was made in partnership with Reclink Australia.