This coming Sunday the 23rd of June, the purest marriage of footy and music one could imagine takes place at Elsternwick Park when the 20th annual Community Cup kicks off. This beautiful institution pits the Rockdogs against the RRR/PBS Megahertz in one of the premier events of the Melbourne musical and footballing calendar, raising money for the highly admirable charity organisation Reclink.
Jason ‘Evo’ Evans founded both the Rockdogs and the Community Cup itself, and played in every match from 1993 to 2009 (excluding 1999, when he coached with two broken arms). He was forced into retirement in 2010 when his Devo Tribute Band, DAVO, broke up for the last time, thus making him ineligible under the rules of Cup selection.
Evo modestly claims that he now has no real role within the Rockdogs and will happily walk around Elsternwick Park aimlessly on Sunday arvo with his daughter Lily. Those in the know acknowledge that he embodies the passion, spirit and joy of community that make footy and rock and roll the twin Kings of happiness for so many of us. There is no-one better placed to take us through what the Community Cup is all about than Mr Evans himself…
Pre-game before last year’s Community Cup, Senior Espy Rockdog Coach Paul ‘PK’ Kelly called his team closer to him. Before him, 30 odd Rockdogs plus a dozen support stuff stood in silence with all eyes fixed squarely on him. This in itself was a massive ask, as the room was bursting with ego and excitement.
The orator’s voice did not divert in pitch or volume. It reminded me of his delivery in his ode to Bradman: “He was more than just a batsman, he was something of a tide”. The younger Rockdogs leaned closer, taking the moment in. I guess that is what you do when someone like Paul Kelly is talking. The room was dead quiet, even the outside noises of the cup cease fired for what he was about to tell the group.
He told everyone to look at the person on his tie. It was the King, Elvis Aaron Presley. ‘Elvis died too young!’ the Coach stated. Remember this was a pre game speech to his players, players just about to go into battle against the Megahertz, a battle that would win you bragging rights for a year. A very important battle, a battle to be won fairly, a battle to be won in the spirit of the Cup and the great game of Australian Rules Football.
‘If we were in Memphis, we would be the Memphis Rockdogs, and if we were there, The King would have been our full forward and so Elvis wouldn’t have died.”
Paul Kelly gave us the idea that the Community Cup and the Rockdogs would have saved The King’s life. It would have given him a chance to shine, to bask in the glory on a sunny cold winter’s day. A day where the King would have felt the love and support of his fellow team-mates, his opposition and the thousands of people watching on. It is those words that ring true to me, almost a year on, that Coach Kelly used. Combining footy and music together in such a powerful way that it would have saved someone’s life.
The footy/music thing has been going on for years. Remember Angry Anderson singing at Waverley Park? Don’t? Google it. Remember records done by footy players, so so bad (again, Google) Robbie Flower and Macho Man. The clincher however was that Grand Final where that Bat Out Of Hell person sang like that. The defence rests.
I’d like to think that music and community radio have been putting back into the community and charity for over two decades via the Community Cup. Our history reads well with our alumni of artists all of class and stature. Lisa Miller, Magic Dirt, The Spazzys, Rebecca’s Empire, Weddings Parties Anything, Mach Pelican, Bob Log 111, The Living End, TISM, You Am I, Blackeyed Susans, Blue Ruin, Tumbleweed, The Meanies, Rokwiz Orchestra to the current list of the Beasts of Bourbon and Justine Clarke.
I am lucky enough to be the founder of the Espy Rockdogs and the Community Cup. This year we celebrate 21 games and 20 years of representing the good fight. In those years we have had to deal with 2 charities, a few local councils and few league footy teams. We have been cancelled, short changed, ripped off. Sound familiar? It has been a long way to the top if you want to kick a goal.
The Espy Rockdogs are now called The Rockdogs, team management has been changed and a new direction awaits in the future. The Cup is safe and well, fear not. It is liked and loved by so many people. It’s where lots of kids see their first rock ‘n’ roll gig. It’s been said people join bands and do radio courses to be in the teams.
When it started there was no pub footy, and women didn’t want to play in the game. Now there is an amazing amount of female playing interest, together with a thriving pub footy competition. Lots of hard work in the early years is paying off and it’s fucking great to see. This year, several of the Rockdogs have never ever been to the Cup. What an amazing day they will have not only experiencing it but being ringside.
I wonder what PK will use this year to inspire his Rockdog team? It will be hard to beat Kelly on the King .
*Photo credit: Jay Hynes