GARY and Tanya Bridge hope next year they'll top the $200,000 mark for funds raised in the annual Krystylea Bridge Cup day.
Taree City and Wingham will play for the cup tomorrow in Group Three Rugby League for the ninth time. Next year will be the 10th anniversary - the game wasn't played in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"We've at $157,000 so far,'' Gary said on the eve of the day named in memory of the couple's daughter, who died in December 2013 from a rare form of cancer. She was 27.
All monies are donated to the Manning Valley Branch of Can Assist, a group that provides financial and practical support for local families impacted by cancer.
Taree City started to dedicate one game a year to a designated charity in 2010. After Krystylea's death it was decided to honour her memory annually in the clash against Wingham and that Can Assist would be the beneficiary.
The Bridge family has a long association with both clubs. Gary had a season with Wingham in 1981. He's coached Taree City and is a life member, while Tanya has been the club's treasurer. Their son Todd won a premiership with the Bulls in 2007 and coached an under 18 side to a title. He was player of the match when the Bulls scored their sole win over Wingham in 2017 cup challenge.
Krystylea's cousins Tim and Matt Bridge have regularly played for Wingham in cup games, although both will miss this weekend, Matt with injury while Tim now turns out for Kurri in the Newcastle competition and was unable to get a clearance to make a one-off appearance.
But the day transcends football, as Gary pointed out. Neither Wingham or Taree City are premiership contenders this year but the season's biggest crowd will pack into the Neal Oval. Paul Sironen, David Brookes and Ron Ryan, former team-mates of Gary from his days at Balmain, will be there along with other former NRL stars Craig Gower and Paul 'Nobby' Clarke. Gower wanted to make a guest appearance for the Bulls, but insurance proved a problem (see story back page).
"All the money raised stays local,'' Gary said. "I think that's the big attraction.''
He said the day usually raises between $15,000 and $20,000 although $27,000 is the high water mark. "It was growing every year until COVID hit in 2020 and we didn't play,'' Gary said.
"But after this weekend we should get pretty close to $200,000 and we'll look to pass that in the 10th anniversary year in 2023.''
The Bridge family has plans to mark the 10th anniversary.
"We'll get this weekend out of the way first,'' Gary said.
"Then we'll concentrate on next year.''
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