Finding winter relief with Hawks as Luke Hodge farewells Launceston

As Luke Hodge prepared to run onto the UTAS Stadium ground for the last time, The Examiner staff and friends were busy raising money for the Winter Relief Appeal.

Wandering around the gates,10 volunteers shook donation buckets as the crowd surged towards the grandstands for the North Melbourne and Hawthorn game on Sunday.

Fairfax Media Tasmania marketing coordinator Ashton Whiley said the Northern Tasmanian community had already been very generous.

More than $40,000 had been raised and Ms Whiley hoped the funds raised at the football match would help tip them over the $50,000 target.

“Even the smallest donations counts,” she said.

“It’s about locals helping locals.”

The Winter Relief Appeal funds went directly towards supporting four Launceston charities, helping them to support people with food, housing and heating, Ms Whiley said.

“Fairfax is really overwhelmed by the support. Anything donated stays in the Northern Tasmanian community.”

Hodgey's last game

Applause greeted Luke Hodge as he ran through a banner with his face on it and onto the UTAS Stadium grounds.

Earlier, bright flashes of fireworks sparkled in the afternoon sky as large Hawk flags were waved from around the field.

The North Melbourne and Hawthorn game marked a special day for the Donnelly family, who have been supporting the Hawks, and Mr Hodge, for many years.

When asked what impact Mr Hodge made for the Hawks, Paul Donnelly, of Launceston, said, “He’s a champion”.

“He first started playing here 15 years ago, and he has given Tasmania a lot over the years,” Mr Donnelly said.

He was watching the game with his two daughters Abbie and Gemma, who had met Mr Hodge at a meet and greet.

“He’s been appreciative of his supporters,” Mr Donnelly said.

“It’s going to be sad to see him go.”

Melissa McGillivray, of George Town, created a placard to show her support of the Hawks legend.

“I’ve been a bit teary … it’s a very big deal for Tassie supporters,” Ms McGillivray said.

“His leadership is second to none.”

Margaret Hamilton, of Hobart, had a jersey with Hodgey’s number 15 on the back.

“I think they’ll need to find someone good to replace him,” Ms Hamilton said.

“He’s won games for them and plays well.”

Wearing a Hawks gold and brown scarf, Russell Wescombe, of Burnie, hoped it would be a Hawthorn win to commemorate Mr Hodge’s time in the club.

“It’s an end of an era, but we’re certainly grateful for all the success we’ve had with him in the club,” Mr Wescombe said.

It was an exciting day for Jack Weston, of Hobart.

Not only was it his 10th birthday, but also the first time he had watched the Hawks and ‘Hodgey’ play live.

It was not the first time he had ever seen Mr Hodge in the flesh, they met as a meet and greet in Hobart.

He hoped it would be an exciting match and he would get to meet some of the players.

IN PERSON: Donations can be made at the newspaper’s Launceston, Hobart or Devonport offices and at businesses displaying an appeal tin.

SNAIL MAIL: You can also get in touch by putting something in the post and sending it to The Examiner, 113 Cimitiere Street, Launceston, 7250.

The appeal will run from June 18 until August 31.