The Big Freeze hits Clapham
All eyes will be on the MCG this Monday as Melbourne and Collingwood clash in the annual Queens Birthday ‘Big Freeze at the G’ blockbuster, but the chill is set to blow through London even earlier as the Wandsworth Demon’s host their 3rd annual ‘Big Freeze at the C’ event in support of the FightMND campaign this Saturday.
The fight against Motor Neuron Disease has gained significant momentum in recent years after AFL Legend, Neale Daniher, was diagnosed with the progressive illness in 2014.
With no cure currently known for the condition, Daniher has dedicated the rest of his life to raising awareness about what he calls “the beast”, rallying major support that has seen the FightMND foundation raise close to $20million (AUD) in under four years.
His plight hit close to home for Wandsworth’s own Gaby Duncan, who came up with the idea for the Demon’s to support the foundation with an event similar to what was being run at the MCG by their Melbourne counterparts.
Demon’s President, Xavier Holland, said that the commitment from those within the club to supporting the cause along with some personal experiences ensured that the concept struck a chord with the whole community.
“One of the catalysts to the event back home was the diagnosis of Neale Daniher having MND, someone who Gaby was quite close with. From there it came to be known that many of our members have had friends or relatives suffer from the disease, so it quickly became something many of us became passionate about,” Holland said.
“Last year we had members address the club to give an insight as to what MND does and how important it is that more research is done to study it. This year we did the same as the cause and treatment of the disease is still somewhat of a mystery, it really helped for our members to understand the cause,”
“To stand in front of your peers and talk about something so personal was something that we all really valued.”
While Duncan leaving London recently has left a hole to fill with regards to putting the event together, Holland says that the Demons will still be pushing to eclipse last year’s donations tally of $12,000 AUD (£6,800)
“In the first year we raised about $3,000, the following year we raised over $12,000, which is a good indication of the effect this had on our club,” he said.
Three games of AFL London football between the Demons and London Swans will be the showpiece act on the day from 11:30 am, with action on the field supported by merchandise sales, raffles, a bake sale, the half-time exhibition match for the Clapham Cubs junior side, and the all-important ice dunking of all Wandsworth coaches.
Though perhaps more eagerly anticipated than any of that is the shaving of Demon, Alex ‘Tank’ McCormick’s two-year beard in support of the cause.
Holland said, “he resembles more birds nest than man, so that transformation should be fairly stunning.”
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe