South Sydney celebrated today's promised legal action against the National
Rugby League by raising close to $300,000 on Saturday night. It means more
bricks to rain on the NRL's 14-team parade.
The Rabbitohs are in the Federal Court at 10.15am today to seek an injunction
not to prevent the go-ahead of next year's competition but to seek inclusion,
to make next season a 15-team slugfest.
Lawyers have told Souths they need $1 million to fight the NRL and on
Saturday night the club cleared almost $300,000, on top of the $100,000 already
A Big Barbecue inviting every former South Sydney player and a 500 Club, to
be organised by Alan Jones and set to raise half a million dollars, are also
being planned to boost the Rabbitohs' fighting fund.
Insiders at the club believe they have the NRL nervous, although president
George Piggins was reluctant to confirm such boasts after the success of
``The lawyers don't want me to comment too much and I'm happy to do that,"
``But I thought we really did well out of the room. Besides that, it was a
really good night."
So the fight is on.
And there was evidence of that in everything that happened throughout
Saturday night's function, officially billed as Save Our Souths and organised
and hosted by television personality Ray Martin, with able support from radio
funnyman Andrew Denton.
When a framed Olympic flag autographed by Murray Rose and Betty Cuthbert was
brought on stage for auction, Denton remarked: ``As I understand, only Dawn
Fraser had one of these ..."
When a dinner with Martin and Denton was offered for auction, Denton tried to
up the price, promising: ``If you play your cards right, you might get
Over four hours, Canterbury football club was beaten only by actor Russell
Crowe as the best sports of the night.
They waded in waist deep on every item for auction, bidding heavily against
Crowe for the timekeeper's bell used to kick off Souths' very first rugby league
match, in 1908, which fetched the highest sale price on the night.
Crowe bid $41,000 against the Bulldogs' offer and then, in the spirit of
things or maybe because somebody missed the first take, Crowe stuck his hand up
again and bid $42,000 against his own best.
Earlier he had beaten his own $9,000 bid with a $10,000 offer for a framed
and autographed photo of Ron Coote helping Graeme Langlands up from the ground
after the siren had beaten the Saints in the 1971 grand final.
It seemed just about everything was offered for auction or put up for raffle.
Octagonal's racing colours went under the hammer, Kostya Tszyu's boxing gloves,
six bottles of Grange Hermitage, Martin's silver Logie, holidays, an
autographed statuette of Sir Don Bradman and Eddie Root's 1931 premiership
blazer a ``chick magnet", according to Denton were all major fund-raisers.
In between came performances from Allan Caswell ``We'll all stand together
... So that Souths can stand alone", he sang and Troy Cassar-Daley and Lee
Kernaghan, as well as a speech by Jones, whose comment came free, while John
Sattler revived his fighting song which went public recently on the steps of
Most football memorabilia was donated by 96-year-old Albert Clift, sitting up
front as strong as oak, who picked through his museum at home to donate the
bell and other things.
``All for the cause," Clift said.
While Crowe won the bid, he told Martin it will never ring again if Souths
are not in next year's competition, and if they are he will have it signal the
start of the first game.
It was a gesture in sentiment and emotion, as much of the night was.
But as Jones pointed out to the bah-humbugs who would shout down the
Rabbitohs' fight as foolish, ``what is sport without sentiment and emotion?"
Even Mark Carroll and Paul Harragon brought home the game's rare bonds when
they hit the stage to harmonise on Carroll's frightful version of Wild Thing.
Indeed, it was a night of sentiment.
And raffles. Martin closed the night passing off 10 cartons of beer and two
meat trays donated by his local butcher.
After all, what's a footy fund-raiser without a meat tray?