Northampton community turns out to celebrate festival of footy

Lachlan AllenMidwest Times
Josh Kennedy and Paul Hasleby at the Northampton Footy Festival.
Camera IconJosh Kennedy and Paul Hasleby at the Northampton Footy Festival. Credit: Justine Rowe/Around the Traps

In a historic day for Northampton, thousands flocked to the town’s oval to raise money for the recovery effort one year on from cyclone Seroja and witness a first for the football-mad community

The Mid West community turned out in force to support Northampton for Saturday’s festival of footy, highlighted by East Fremantle’s 10-point win over East Perth for the Seroja Cup in the WAFL.

It was the first WAFL game ever played in Northampton — known nationwide for its uncanny ability to produce AFL players — and there wasn’t a single free seat in the main stand, while cars lined the oval for a better view of the action.

The event was the culmination of a year of planning and hard work for organiser and former AFL player Andrew Lockyer.

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Around 3000 people attended and while it is too soon to tell how much money has been raised, there is no doubt the day was a massive success.

Northampton sisters Julia and Tiani Teakle, and their cousin Brynn, all played for East Fremantle back at their old home ground and all scored wins for the Sharks.

The Teakle sisters helped the Sharks women beat Claremont and go further ahead on top of the WALFW ladder.

“Family were impacted pretty hard, sheds blown over, roofs off and Kalbarri was also hit really hard. So it’s great to see such a big turnout to raise some funds. Just a year ago, we were picking nails off the oval, so it’s crazy to see it now,” Julia Teakle said.

In the two GNFL matches book-ending the WAFL games, the Rams women beat Brigades, while the Hawks were too good Northampton in the league showdown.

Among the current and former AFL players in attendance were Lockyer, Paul Hasleby, Josh Kennedy, Daniel Chick and Michael Brennan.

Fresh off kicking his 700th goal on Friday night, West Coast Eagles star and Northampton’s own Josh Kennedy was one of the main attractions, signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

“I know a lot of people up here who been affected from (Seroja), cousins down on farms and to family that live in town,” Kennedy said.

“It’s been a massive year for a lot of people in town, the slow rebuild is happening and a lot of the AFL Rams funds (a fundraising initiative for the town by current and former AFL players) is based around building community spirit.

“So we’ve been able to put in a lot of things hopefully to help build that and today is just one of those things to help get a community together and put a smile on people’s faces.”

Fremantle great Hasleby said it was an amazing day that he would like to see happen again in the future.

“Just looking around the crowd with all the cars, the marquees and I’ve never seen the Northampton club room so packed like that.

“I think it should become an annual game and just maybe we should have a crack at a western derby up here. The West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers, wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?”

Minister for Sport and Recreation David Templeman said the idea was first proposed by Lockyer to ministers Tony Buti and Reece Whitby.

The State Government contributed $80,000 towards the event, as part of the ground upgrades to get it to WAFL standard.

“So we’ll now know that into the future we can have WAFL standard games here into the future as well, which is really good. So there’s a legacy,” he said.

“The most important thing for me is, you look around here, there’s kids with their mums and dads, their grandparents, their families, watching our great game, which is Australian football, and it’s within the environment of a robust, strong community.

“That’s gone through some tough times but is very much on the road to recovery and focused on the future, I think that’s tremendous for everybody involved.”

Organisers hope funds raised will help in recovery efforts, including buying a generator for the town’s aged care facility.

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