| General Article
Thursday 1 May 2003 08:58
No author statedSource: Jubilee Ave
Follow this link to read all the hype surrounding this weekend's match from various media outlets.
They'll be breathing fire at Kogarah as Dragons return home
By Alex Brown
April 30 2003
It's 1992. You're at Kogarah Oval. You wade through the sea of red-and-white clad supporters, pick a random fan and tell him/her that within a decade St George will form a joint-venture with the Illawarra Steelers, home games will be alternated between Wollongong and Moore Park, and Kogarah will be devoid of first-grade fixtures for almost four seasons.
It's those fans, the ones from the St George area, the ones sapped of passion when the joint-venture transferred Sydney home games to Aussie Stadium, for whom Johnny Raper feels.
And it's those same fans fellow Dragons great Graeme Langlands hopes will return to the renovated stadium for Sunday's clash with Cronulla - the first game at Kogarah since July 11, 1999.
“I still thought there should have been room to play games in Kogarah,” Raper said. “I think it upset quite a few people. People from Bexley who used to come to this ground had to go a lot further to get to the Sydney Football Stadium. Hopefully, those fans will be packing the stands and climbing the trees outside the ground again now that their team is back in their area.”
Langlands added: “They probably lost a lot of fans. They were essentially playing their home games at the Roosters' home ground. When they played home games against the Roosters, the crowd was three-quarters Easts fans. That's no home-ground advantage. They should never have left altogether. I think you'll notice a big lift when they run on the field this weekend.”
Former Dragons captain Lance Thompson won his first grand final - with the under-sevens Earlwood Saints - at Kogarah. He also recalls his maiden first-grade game at the ground (against the Gold Coast) and the corner in which he scored his first premiership try (against Penrith).
“I ran off a pass from Noel Goldthorpe, should've passed it to Wayne Bartrim but got a bit greedy to score my first first-grade try,” he said, pointing to the corner nearby the partially renovated grandstand. “It's a special ground for me. The Footy Stadium never really felt like a home ground.
“There were a few games we lost there that we might have won if we were playing at Kogarah. It's good to be back.”
Mark Gasnier, too, played much of his junior football at the ground, then in later years crammed onto the hill to watch the 1989 Canberra Raiders battle the Dragons.
But come Sunday, Gasnier, after 55 matches, will play his maiden Kogarah first-grade game, pending a medical clearance.
“At one point some of the boys went to [management] and asked to either get us back to Kogarah, or play all our games at WIN Stadium,” said Gasnier, who rated himself an 80 per cent chance of recovering from a calf injury in time for Sunday's clash.
“The Footy Stadium wasn't really a home ground.
“But just to walk around Kogarah is something special. It's the ground I always dreamed of playing first grade on. I feel like a kid again just walking around this place.”
Saints Vs Cowboys/Oki Doki
The details of St.George-Illawarra's 2nd game of 2003 at Jubilee Oval have been announced by the NRL. The Saints will play the North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday, the 1st of June at 2:30pm.
While we narrowly defeated the Cowboys in 1998 and 1999 at Kogarah, we still owe the Cowboys for that embarrassing defeat that they inflicted on the Saints in 1996 at Kogarah, prior to the semi-finals. Cancel all your other plans, and watch the Saints march in at Kogarah against the Cowboys.
In other news, the Dragons have announced that Kogarah's Jubilee Oval has been given a corporate name for the 2003 season. The below St.George-Illawarra press release confirms that Oki has become the naming rights sponsor and that the name of the ground will now be referred to as Oki Jubilee Stadium. The contribution by Oki provides a much-needed cash injection to the Jubilee Oval Community Appeal and will contribute to Jubilee Oval being a viable venue in the years ahead. However, it should be noted that the formal name of the ground is still Kogarah's Jubilee Oval. In order to execute a legal change of the specific name, an application would need to be made to the 'Geographic Names Board of NSW'. In other words, Kogarah's Jubilee Oval has been granted a corporate nickname but the existing name still remains legally.
Below are the website links of the Geographic Names Board and OKI Australia, followed by the Dragons' press release:
Bob a true Saint
May 1, 2003
SIR Bob Geldof, rock icon and world philanthropist, was in his usual effing and blinding form in a club on London's fashionable Kings Road this week, his complexion as grey as his hair, his enthusiasm as colourful as his language.
In his hand was the script promoting a new half-time project that will be launched this Sunday at St George-Illawarra's Oki Jubilee Oval, a strange amalgam of business venture and charity Geldof and his business partners hope to market worldwide.
Sir Bob (as this very Irish man can be called only in the UK) was having trouble with the blurb. Many takes were shot. “Bollocks” was the mildest of the curses as the soundman said: “Once more please”.
It was the pretty low-key launch of a company called Grandstand International, whose aim is to fill the gap when nothing happens while the players are getting rubbished by their coaches at half-time. Oki Jubilee will see the first of it.
The link is not so strange as it seems. Geldof's manager Howard Needleman hails from Sydney and is a mad Dragons fan.
It's as simple as that and the brief goes like this: Sir Bob will say hello on the big screen and then invite spectators with mobile phones (that is, almost everyone) to text a number, enter some details and, for the lucky one, before the teams are back on the field, win a pretty good prize. In this case $2500 worth of Good Guys electronic equipment.
It was all Geldof's idea, said a Grandstand Entertainment spokesman from the company responsible for the marketing, and part of his relentless quest to raise money for Band Aid, the charity he helped form aimed at preventing famine in Africa.
“Make this clear at the outset,” Geldof said. “This thing in Sydney is not a charity but a business enterprise. It just happens that if it works, there will be serious money going to charity. But the public must know that this is not sheer altruism.”
Geldof and his partners, who include the racing car driver John Williams, hope to promote the scheme worldwide. They are negotiating with a giant New York sports club they will describe only as “a ball team” and a London soccer franchise. I am sworn to secrecy, but they are big franchises.
They hope also to expand from Australia to South Africa, and then . . . “Well, God knows,” said Geldof, with a few expletives thrown in.
So at half-time on Sunday spectators will be able to win one of those home entertainment centres everyone has always wanted by texting their phone number and name. Half the profits raised from the texting – after the phone company's whack – will go to Band Aid and the other half to the Ground Redevelopment Fund.
OK then, what's the catch? This: by entering, Grandstand Entertainment will record the mobile phone details and use them to distribute a list to those marketing companies who like to have such lists. “We intend that no one will get more than five messages,” Williams said.
Geldof said he got the idea last October during an Australian tour when he was at St George-Illawarra with the club's chief executive, Peter Doust.
Doust immediately agreed once the format was devised, and Williams said it would be in place during this year's State of Origin series.
The prizes are likely to get more valuable by then – probably cars. The way Geldof put it, hopefully everyone gains: the club, Band Aid and the promoting company in which he has a stake.
“This is the system,” said Williams, who retired from driving two years ago. “The players go off at half-time, or there is a gap in play. People are milling about. They all have mobiles.
“So, they send a text message and, before play starts again someone has a really good prize. We have a large number of mobile phone numbers on record, and we sell those to people interested in them for marketing reasons.”
Now it's all down to the match at Oki Jubilee this weekend when you will hear: “Hello. I'm Bob Geldof . . .” Even that took a few takes.
The Daily Telegraph
Last night the Dragons failed to defend Amos Roberts' grade one dangerous throw charge and he will miss one game.
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