23 April 2024

Life-long fan Jeff and Legacy family the big winners in Dragons' Anzac Day league clash

| Jen White
Start the conversation
Woman holding a football with two other people.

Looking forward to the Anzac Cup game between the Dragons and Roosters … Legatee Jo Beavis, Dragons NRLW player Tara McGrath-West and fan Jeff Lees. Photos: Jen White.

The traditional Anzac Day rugby league clash between St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters will hold special significance for Jeff Lees.

As well as being a lifelong Dragons fan, Jeff is a member of the Sydney Legacy family. The Dragons have chosen the organisation to receive funds raised from its 50-50 charity raffle during the Anzac Day clash.

The raffle is a not-for-profit fundraising project which raises funds and awareness for charities and other good causes.

A percentage of the prize pool from each raffle goes to one lucky ticket holder, while a percentage goes directly to the charity of that specific round. Previous beneficiaries include The Disability Trust, Wollongong Homeless Hub, Hands of Hope and the i98FM Illawarra Convoy.

READ ALSO RSL sub-branch in fast-growing Illawarra suburb in need of new members to continue legacy

Legacy is dedicated to supporting the families of deceased and seriously injured veterans.

For 100 years, the organisation has helped hundreds of thousands of Australian widows, families and children of soldiers and peacekeepers who have lost their lives or health during or following service in all conflicts since World War I.

Jeff’s father fought in World War II and his mother was a cook. Jeff has been with Legacy since 1991.

He is a member of Legacy’s Wattle Group, which brings together Legacy beneficiaries with intellectual disabilities aged between 40 and 80 to socialise and enjoy regular outings.

Jeff also volunteers with the group. A Legacy spokesperson said it was a testament to his indomitable spirit and unwavering gratitude.

Jeff, 69, was invited to Dragons training ahead of the Anzac Day clash to watch his beloved team and meet some of the players, including his favourite, captain Ben Hunt.

He reckons this year’s team is “pretty good”, although he did take Zac Lomax to task for his decision to leave the club and head to the Parramatta Eels at the end of the season. To his credit, Zac took the jibe with good grace as he signed Jeff’s Dragons’ cap.

Football player and a fan.

Jeff Lees talks to Zac Lomax about his move to Parramatta.

“The Dragons are a good team. I’ve been following them for years, ever since I was born, really because my mum and dad followed St George,” Jeff said.

“They used to go to all the grand finals, from 1955 to ’66.”

Jeff’s a bit disappointed he hasn’t attended a grand final himself – the atmosphere isn’t the same as watching it on TV in your lounge room, “but them’s the breaks”.

The Dragons and Roosters have competed for the Anzac Cup since 2002, paying tribute to the men and women of the Australian and New Zealand defence forces.

The Dragons are looking to retain the Cup after trumping the Roosters 14-12 in a thrilling game last year.

Legatee Jo Beavis, who served in the Army for 25 years, said the Dragons’ support for Legacy at the Anzac Day game was very special.

“The community exposure that we get from our connection with them is just so important to Legacy; it reminds people that we’re still here, we’re still supporting families,” she said.

READ ALSO Funding for Port Kembla schools, community groups up for grabs through NSW Ports

“To see people wear their sprigs of rosemary, which Legacy will hand out at the game as a thank you to the public for their support, is really special. We love it.”

Sydney Legacy is set to gift more than 50,000 rosemary sprigs to the public on Anzac Day.

Sydney Legacy president, Legatee Ian Thompson, is calling on the community to join the longstanding tradition by wearing the rosemary gift during dawn services and marches on Thursday, 25 April, serving as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women.

“The tradition of carrying sprigs of rosemary dates to World War I when soldiers sought solace in its fragrant leaves as they embarked on the arduous journey of war as a symbol of remembrance for their fallen comrades,” he said.

For Jeff, Legacy has always supported him “really well”.

“The first time I went there, I liked it very, very much. They’re a good organisation. And I love helping out; that’s what I’m here for. ”

Click here for more information about Sydney Legacy, or phone 9248 9000.

The Anzac Cup featuring the Dragons and Roosters will start at 4:05 pm at Allianz Stadium on Anzac Day, 25 April. Parachutists will deliver the match ball before the Ode, the Last Post, the Rouse and Australian and New Zealand National anthems are played.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.