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Musos and media clash in one sweaty mess in this annual charity event

Caroline Gates

Welcome to the 26th guest blog post of Time Out Sydney's 52 Weeks of #SydCulture 2017 challenge! July’s culture selector is Caroline Gates: Program Director at FBi Radio. Every Wednesday of July, Caro will be telling us what she loved the week before. Think of it as your recommendations for this week, from someone who sees a helluva lot of arts and culture. Over to her.

Each Tuesday night for the past several weeks, a motley crew of musicians, community radio volunteers and other music industry types has gathered on Alexandria’s Alan Davidson Oval come rain or shine to run laps and practice their ball skills.

It’s not some cruel boot camp for the under-sunned. They’re in training for the sixth annual Sydney Reclink Community Cup, which will be held at Marrickville’s Henson Park on Sunday August 6.  

The charity AFL game started in Melbourne and has since spread nationally. It raises funds to help Reclink Australia provide sporting and artistic opportunities for disadvantaged Australians. Sydney’s iteration is a good-natured grudge match between the Walers (musicians) and the Sydney Sailors (media including volunteers from FBi Radio and 2SER). The amped up drama between these two teams, plus the dog-friendly atmosphere, Young Henry’s tinnies and an inevitable streaker, draws spectators out for the one match each year.

The 2016 Walers team
Photograph: Rod Hunt

In previous years, the lead up to game day has been marked with a few fundraising gigs. This time, the Cup was launched with a comedy night at the Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore. The Barley is one of those locals where you hope there’s a respectful symbiosis between the pub and their neighbours that saves them from noise complaints and the march of suburban development. On Wednesday it was packed.

Hosted by Mikey Robins, the night featured comedians Craig Quartermaine, Sian Choyce, Jared Jekyll and Robbie Armfield, along with performances by Leah Flanagan and Bow Campbell. They saved the best for last, with NITV’s Quartermaine sharing tales of his experiences coaching a women's footy team.

This was the first time the Cup has been launched with a night-time party at a pub, and you might question whether the combination of music, charity and sport wasn’t already enough to befuddle us Sydneysiders without adding comedy into the mix as well. It’s one of the things I love about the Cup – the lack of branded sheen and singular focus that characterises many events in our city. It’s just about community and having a go at doing something good. It seems to be working. I’m hoping the convivial atmosphere in the room on Wednesday points to a strong turnout come Cup day.

In Melbourne, the Cup is a 20 year institution that reliably attracts huge crowds and has been championed by icons including Paul Kelly, Tex Perkins, Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett.

Sydney Reclink Community Cup 2016
Photograph: Rod Hunt


In Sydney it's comparatively early days. The cup's in its sixth year, and crowds have been growing slowly but steadily thanks to the work of a dedicated team and the sweat of players, including Anthony ‘Albo’ Albanese, Adam Spencer, Urthboy and many more.

We may not embrace AFL with the same fervour as they do south of the border, but I think we value community just as much. Our community might come from volunteering at a radio station, a subscription to the theatre, participation in team sports or just a beer at your local. I see it between the Sailors and the Walers each year and I hope you get to see it come August 6.

The 2017 Sydney Reclink Community Cup takes place Sunday August 6 at Henson Park, Marrickville.

Check out our hit list of where to see free live music every night of the week – and read more about our 52 Weeks of #SydCulture challenge, and let us know what you're seeing/loving on Instagram via the hashtag #SydCulture.

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