When: Etihad Stadium, 7:30pm, Tuesday 3rd of July
TV: Channel 9
Like it or loathe it, the EJ Whitten Legends game is now a permanent fixture in the footy season’s highlights. As the season moves towards the business end it allows us, as footy fans, to take a step back and enjoy some of the past greats being back on the field, despite age or physical condition.
The Legends game is usually a humourous affair, with the result not really taken at all seriously until there’s a few minutes left. The umpires and players tend to have fun with it, making an enjoyable spectacle for the crowd the priority in what is overall just a scratch-match between some amazing players.
Although it must be said, in addition to these past champions, we get a smattering of celebrity and cross-code players joining in each season. This leads to moments like singer Shannon Noll burning off players in the midfield, much maligned journalist Craig Hutchinson kicking goals and ex-players, in this case the 67 year old Sam Newman, kicking bags and winning man of the match in 2010.
The Legends game on Tuesday night is the 17th time the Victorian side will face the All-Stars (basically, all non-Victorian players) for the EJ Whitten foundation. The game is one of the big fundraisers for the foundation, formed in 1995 after Ted Whitten Sr passed from prostate cancer.
His son, Ted Whitten Jr, has run the foundation and organisation of events like the Legends game since then and the proceeds from the match go towards the awareness of prostate cancer and men’s health via the foundation.
This year, the two sides have huge lineups in terms of footballing prowess and it should prove to be a good contest. With some of the talent on display, the spectacle may be slightly thrown to the wind in anticipation of seeing some of these players on the big stage again.
The Victorian forward line consists of such recently retired players as Matthew Lloyd and Brendan Fevola – the likes of which could still probably trouble AFL defenders today.
Along with that, the Big V has esteemed footballers such as Peter ‘Spider’ Everitt, David Wirrpanda, Anthony Rocca, Steven Baker, Chris Johnson and Simon Prestigiacomo among many more. The added…bulk, to be kind, of players like Lance Whitnall hasn’t stopped them having a red hot crack in the past. They are captained by Anthony Koutoufides, two-time All Australian and Carlton premiership player.
For non-football recruits, they have the likes of the ever-reliable Strauchnie, the arrogant footy alias of comedian Peter Hellier and Melbourne Tigers basketball coach Chris Anstey, who at a relatively spritely 37, stands at 213cm with a 115kg bulk. The Victorian’s are coached by Sam Newman, who, deep down, we all know will be hoping for a second consecutive win after the Big V’s victory last year.
The All-Stars side are no slouches themselves. Led by one of the best forwards of all time, Wayne Carey, they have a bevy of recently retired players in addition to some legends of their own. Xavier Clarke and Daniel Motlop, both freakishly good on their day, are in the line-up, combining with other recent retirees like Cats favourite Max Rooke, multiple premiership ruckman Brad Ottens, Tadhg Kennelly, Tarkyn Lockyer and Des Headland.
The Lions triple premiership side is also well represented, with premiership players Des Headland, Martin Pike, Mal Michael and Darryl White in the team. High flying Demons forward Russell Robertson is back in the side again and will speak to BigFootyNews about the game in an upcoming interview.
For celebrities, they have the likes of Anthony Lehmann (better known as ‘Lehmo’) from Channel Ten’s Before the Game as well as South Australian actor Clayton Watson, famous for playing ‘Kid’ in the Matrix films.
With blokes like Shane Crawford and Warwick Capper acting as runners, there should be no shortage of entertainment on the night. The outcome is not really important in these games but watching them is always enough to bring a smile to any footy fan’s face. With the strong line-ups they’ve assembled, it should be an entertaining and strong contest to witness. And maybe, just maybe, Fev might get himself a good headline for once.
Teams available here: http://www.legendsgame.com.au/the-game/2012-team-lists.phps