Fires prompt captains' early appearances - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fires prompt captains' early appearances

By Sam Lienert 10/02/2009 07:15:20 PM Comments (0)

Essendon captain Matthew Lloyd says a desire to support bushfire victims has persuaded him to play in Friday night's AFL match against the Western Bulldogs.

And Bulldogs skipper Brad Johnson is also likely to put aside a previous plan to sit out the opening round pre-season clash, which had been scheduled for Darwin.

With the game moved to Telstra Dome as a fundraiser to help those affected by Victoria's bushfires, the two club leaders are among several players shelving plans to rest.

"There will probably be another five (Essendon) players who will play in the game, including myself, who wouldn't have been otherwise," Lloyd said on Wednesday.

"Apart from (not having to) travel, there's no doubt part of what we're playing for on Friday night is being part of the showcase to give something back.

"That has definitely had a bit to do with it for some of the players."

Likewise, the Bulldogs' plans have changed, with Johnson and fellow veteran Nathan Eagleton, who were set to by-pass the match, now strong chances to play.

More comfortable playing conditions in Melbourne and a lack of travel helped their cause, but Bulldogs forward Robert Murphy said emotion also played a part.

"There's probably about 45 players who would put up with a broken leg to get out there Friday night and probably a few staff members as well who just want to get involved and help out," he said,

Murphy himself will not take the field, as he continues to recover from knee surgery, which is likely to keep him sidelined until the regular season.

But he intends to join a contingent of players from all 16 AFL clubs involved in collecting donations or other activities on the night.

Murphy said the horrific events hit close to home for him.

"My sister was with a few friends up close to Buxton - four pregnant girls having a couple of days away," he said.

"They actually got stuck in Buxton and just decided in panic really to jump in the car and take off.

"They made it out, lucky enough we find out now, because if they had stayed they mightn't be with us, so it was a pretty scary day Sunday for our family."

The match was expected to attract a much larger than normal NAB Cup crowd, with 4,000 tickets sold in the first hour.

Telstra Dome chief executive Ian Collins said all staff had volunteered their services, with every dollar from ticket sales, catering and car parking to go to bushfire relief.

Everyone attending will have to pay for entry, including corporate box holders and venue members.

Collins was hoping the AFL record crowd for the ground of 53,459 would be broken.

The Seven Network, not originally scheduled to broadcast the match, will now screen it in Victoria, Adelaide and Perth, while Foxtel will show it live nationwide.

League chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the game was expected to raise more than $1 million.

He said the AFL intended to continue supporting affected communities long-term, particularly in rebuilding ruined sporting facilities.

The league wanted to rush in footballs and other sporting gear.

Beyond that, they aimed to help in ways such as turf replacement, rebuilding change-rooms and player visits.

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