Indigenous Day at The Den ready to make GCA history

January 16, 2022 BY

Newcomb & District and Corio opponents on January 29 Damian Lynch, Jonny Kelly (Wathaurong man), Andrew Vella (Gooreng Gooreng man), Joel Bennett and Darcy Campbell at Grinter Reserve. Photos: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

THE shared objective of raising indigenous awareness and playing the game of cricket will be on full display January 29, when Newcomb & District Cricket Club host Corio Cricket Club at Grinter Reserve.

Aptly named the ‘Indigenous Day at The Den’, it is the first ever game in GCA history fully dedicated to Indigenous cultures around the region, a milestone both clubs are ecstatic to be a part of.


Corio’s Joel Bennett (left) and Newcomb & District’s Andrew Vella (right) in front of Davies Pavilion at Grinter Reserve.

The event will be one of spectacle and reflection according to Newcomb & District president Damian Lynch, headlined by specially designed kits credited to Wadawurrung traditional owner and Yorta-Yorta woman Billy “BJ” O’Toole and Ruby Evans, which will only be worn by players once only on game day.

“The stories within the uniforms are vital to be known and give recognition to the teams’ Ancestors, Country, and families of today, this game is celebrating the oldest living culture,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The eucalyptus leaves on Corio’s uniform bring peace and give safe passage on country as the teams go head-to-head in their game of cricket.”

Billy O’Toole (Wadawurrung man) and Ruby Evans (Yorta-Yorta woman) holding O’Toole’s designed uniform to be worn by Corio players on January 29 at Grinter Reserve. The artwork symbolises the 12 players of a team. Only 11 take the field, but 12 make the team. The handprints are the identity of both teams and the two clubs coming together. The footprints are of the players and their connection to the game.

This year’s Indigenous game will hopefully set plans in motion for more widespread recognition of Aboriginal cultures through
the GCA.

Indigenous football games and NAIDOC week contests already take place across Geelong’s AFL competitions and Damian Lynch was wants to transfer that over to the GCA.

“The plan has been one that the GCA has stood right behind since the start in terms of promoting,” Lynch said.

“It is an event that going forward we will look to be a part of annually and hopefully it is something the GCA will look into the future for, maybe as an indigenous/multicultural round.”

In addition to the match itself, there will be several activities taking place on the day.

A Welcome to Country will be performed by Wadawurrung Aunty and respected persons Corrina Eccles.

Various special guests will be in attendance such as North Melbourne AFLW stars, Kaitlyn Ashmore and Mia King, as well as surprise Geelong Cats players.

Musicians will perform on the day, a radio broadcast will stream live on air, food trucks will be on offer, and local indigenous arts and crafts stalls will be set-up around the ground.

Both Newcomb & District and Corio have Indigenous players within their clubs, only increasing the urge to make this season’s event happen.

Corio’s Anthony Grace has been a huge advocate for the Day at The Den, knowing January 29 will be an important day in the history of both clubs.

“It feels pretty good to be a part of the start of something like this,” Grace said.

“For all the indigenous people, I’m sure they would be very happy about this idea. It’s the start of something new, it’s getting everybody involved and it should be a really good day.”

Both clubs compete in the GCA’s Third Division with the seconds squads to be playing the mirror game at Corio Oval the same day.