Charity shield held in honour of late footy legend
RUGBY LEAGUE: The tragic loss of devoted Diehards and Wheatmen club member and talented player Matt Hughes is still raw in both footy communities.
As a former captain, a talented player, and a well-loved member of both footy communities, Matt’s “fair dinkum” attitude and love of the game left a mark in the hearts of everyone in the community lucky enough to know him.
This weekend, Matt’s legacy will be honoured with a charity shield match in his name, pitting the Dalby Wheatmen against the Dalby Diehards in a game of rugby league.
Wheatmen coach Bart Turner told News it was important for both clubs to honour Matt in this way, combining some of his great loves – rugby union, rugby league, and his home clubs.
“He was the type of bloke that he had a lot of mates in the rugby club and a lot of mates in the Diehards,” he said.
“We’ve always talked about having a trial match with the Dalby Wheatmen and the Diehards.
“We’re pretty competitive clubs and pretty successful clubs. This is a way for us to use the game as a charity shield.”
Matt’s death from cancer at age 39 sent shockwaves through the Diehards and Wheatmen communities.
But Turner said the legacy he left was greater than the devastation of his loss.
“He touched a lot of people in different ways,” he said.
“There was no nonsense about him, he was fair dinkum in everything he did, and that reflects in what he’s left behind now … For this event this weekend we’ve got people coming down from as far as Longreach, Cunnamulla, St George, the Coast, everywhere.
“They’re all coming down just to get together because of his name.”
Funds will be donated to the McGrath Foundation and LifeFlight, selected for their close personal connection to Matt and a number of his mates in both clubs.
Turner said his friend would be amazed at the thought of having a match in his honour.
“He’d be sitting up there watching us, saying ‘how have I left such a mark on these people?’,” Turner said.
The game costs only a gold coin donation on entry. Along with a bar, live music, and a multi-draw raffle will be an auction selling limited edition charity shield jerseys, with all money going towards the selected charities.
The game will be held on Saturday, beginning at 5.30pm.