A Town That Cares For Their Own

Here’s a tale of two stories. Where a small rural town, devastated by the loss of two of their own, came together to make a difference.

Life was near perfect for the Hale family. But when their son Billy died by suicide, they were left struggling for answers. Four months later Billy’s mother took her life. The following is how a tiny town has helped the family through their unimaginable loss.

At 21, Billy Hale was fit, handsome, healthy and a great rugby league player for the Goolgowi Rabbitohs. His proud dad Geoff says he was magic to watch on the field. He had just finished his plumbing apprenticeship, had a beautiful girlfriend, tonnes of friends and he was ‘the life of the party’.

However, on March 28, he inexplicably took his own life.

There was no indication anything was wrong. He left no hints, no note, nothing. The mystery of his death left his family bewildered and set off a chain of events that not only claimed his mother’s life, but left the small town of 260 reeling.

So much so, the townsfolk swung behind the family and organised a fundraising game/event between the Goolgowi Rabbitohs and Yenda Blue heelers.

This event was also supported by Family of League, with a donation of rugby league auction memorabilia raising several thousand dollars.

The following is an extract from last week’s local newspaper:  

Wow what a day yesterday was!! A huge crowd rolled in to watch 3 awesome games of football! It all started with the old boys’ game which was very entertaining seeing these premiership legends throw the footy around and have a bit of fun! Finally, the Goolgowi boys got over the line with a try to win it.

Next up we had the Yenda girls. A strong female team with some very good players littered amongst them! Goolgowi made them earn it though, with some quick runs and line breaks! It was a great game to watch with Yenda prevailing in the end.

Up next the main game. From the get-go it was physical and fast paced! Both sides belting each other early. Yenda jumped out to a 10-point lead, in the second half Goolgowi hit back and the sides went toe-to-toe in a fiery and passionate clash. In what was a very hot day, both sides battled through to the end which saw Yenda get up in the end… but they were made to earn it right to the final whistle!

At the game’s conclusion, we went back to the Yenda Hotel for a catch-up drink with the Goolgowi club, and to auction off the playing jumpers! The pub was jam packed! It was such a sight of two small community football clubs and their families, players, supporters and volunteers.

The auction started off with a bang enjoying big numbers coming in for certain jumpers. The total amount for the jumper auction came in at a whopping $22,074; a crazy amount of money raised for our mental health charities all from two little football towns! It was a magnificent sight! (end of article)

A final thought

Although the above loss of two people occurred two years ago, the ability of the town to come together ­­– as well as being supported by a neighbouring town – and show their support, had certainly been hindered by fires, floods and then Covid 19. However, it would appear that no-one in the town/s believed the full-time whistle had been blown for this family.

The above event activities secured funds to assist those dealing with unimaginable grief.

Together, when circumstances allowed, the townsfolk that organised, ran and attended this event set a fine example of how the rural spirit of supporting each other in good times as well as bad, can sometimes be the most important result of all. And hopefully raise spirits for those that are flagging. An outcome our game, and especially Family of League, certainly support!