23,000 turn out for Sacred Heart footy mission

A scratch Australian football match between Melbourne radio stations first held in 1993 to raise $500 for the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda has grown into a huge event which yesterday drew a 23,000 crowd to the Junction Oval.

The Age reports that in its 13th year, the Community Cup is expected to equal last year's total of $165,000 in funds raised for the Mission, which needs $2 million a year to keep providing food, shelter, health programs and a home for disadvantaged people.

Mission chief executive Michael Perusco said the meals program, which provides a hot lunch for 400 people a day, "enables us to get to know people ... get an understanding of what issues they're facing and then work in partnership with them to resolve them."

He said the annual matches were a tribute to community spirit. "Hundreds of people donate their time, expertise and goods to put the event on each year."

"And then thousands of people come along and help raise money to assist people less fortunate than themselves. The community spirit at the cup is so tangible you can just about touch it."

It's a worthy cause - but how did a scratch match in 1993 between band manager Jason Evans and his mates from the Espy and the Tote hotels to raise $500 grow into a such a big event?

"The turning point was two years ago, when we got 13,000 people," Mr Perusco said. "Last year it was 22,000. I think it's really put its mark on the Melbourne calendar," he said. "A lot of the people who are here would've been here for ... the 13 years and they've told their friends."

Mr Evans said combining Melbourne's three great loves of football, live music and community radio was bound to be a winner, but took some finetuning. "It's taken us 13 years to get to this point, and it's awesome. I'm so proud of it."

After some spectacular tumbles, lucky goals and entertainment from a final-term streaker, the match ended fittingly in a tie - 5.5.35 apiece.

Musicians with a mission raise spirits and money (The Age 26/6/06)
Radio stars join a new play list (Herald-Sun 26/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sacred Heart Mission

Footy friends always on song (The Age 22/6/06)

26 Jun 2006