Billy Brownless has always had a special connection to Neale Daniher. Not just two football mates, Brownless and Daniher knew each before Daniher’s diagnosis with MND, sharing a connection of being Assumption College Kilmore alumni.
“There’s always been a little connection there, which has been good over the years… just knowing Neale and just meeting him. I knew him obviously before he got MND, there was connection there with Assumption College,” Brownless told The Inner Sanctum.
“You’d always have a chat about Ray Carroll, or ‘did you get 100 on the main’ or ‘how many goals did you kick’.”
Brownless said that he had hoped one day to be nominated to be a part of the Big Freeze. It was only when he received the call that he realised that ‘it’s going to be a cold one’.
“You watch them over the years and think ‘what a great cause, and that’s funny and whatever’. I thought that it would be good to do one day, then I got the call this year and I get to do it,” he said.
“And now I start thinking ‘gee, it’s going to be cold and the ice, how cold that’s going to be’, but you just have to play on as Neale would say and get going and do it and hope we can raise some good money.”
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This year due to restrictions in Victoria, the Big Freeze has also had to play on, moving the traditional Queen’s Birthday match to the SCG.
Brownless said that while he would have preferred to see it played at the MCG, it’s great that Sydney have taken the game so that a crowd can attend this year.
“You’d rather it at the MCG with a nice 70,000-80,000 crowd. Sydney have taken it on and thanks to them of course for that,” he said.
“There’ll be 30,000 or something there and it still will be a good day and game but to be honest, the freeze has got so big itself, it’s a TV event just itself going the slide.”
Not only a football term, ‘Play On’ has become a key message of both Daniher and FightMND as Brownless mentioned.
Brownless said particularly over the last 15 months, it’s something that all Victorian’s have had to do and play on.
“I think we all do, we all play on. We’ve all got hardships especially with lockdown and being a Victorian. We really don’t know what’s going on,” he said.
“The last year or so has been tough for everyone, especially for Neale, but as he keeps saying, you’ve just got to play on.
“You can’t stop or think why me or what’s wrong with everything. You’ve got to play on, get moving and find a way to get through it all.”
Brownless encourages everyone who hasn’t done so to donate to FightMND and continue to help Daniher raise funds that will hopefully find a cure for the disease.
“Buy a beanie. It’s bloody cold enough, we all should have a beanie anyways. And if you live in Kilmore and/or Ballarat, you definitely need the beanie.”
And who would Brownless like to see go down the slide in the future?
To donate to Fight MND, or to find out more, visit fightmnd.org.au.
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