Gunnedah and Boggabri are gearing up for a big day in tribute to the late Boyde Campbell.
The young father who played for both Gunnedah and Boggabri tragically died by suicide in 2017.
Since 2018, the rival clubs have played for the Boyde Campbell Cup in honour of his memory.
Funds raised throughout the day are donated to mental health support charities, Beyond Blue and headspace. Last year’s event raised $12,500 in support of the important cause.
Boggabri Rugby League Club president, Greg Haire, remembered Boyde’s time at the club in the 2015-16 seasons as one of great courage.
“He wasn’t a very big bloke, but he loved getting in there among the big fellas,” Haire said.
“He hit hard … was as tough as nails.”
The club president hoped to avenge last year’s Cup defeat to the Bulldogs when Gunnedah ran out 36-20 winners in first grade.
The memorial match is rotated between Gunnedah and Boggabri venues each year – this time it is Gunnedah’s turn to host the match on home turf at Kitchener Park.
Gunnedah Rugby League Club president David McCann said as Boyde was a popular figure at both football clubs, a tribute match between the two was seen as perfect way to recognise his presence and help raise funds for charity.
“We thought it would be a good thing to have a memorial trophy and an annual event as both a fundraiser and awareness day,” McCann said.
“So, we put the concept to the Boggabri club and they were 100 per cent on board.”
Boyde’s children Arlie (8) and Vann (6) may have been too young to remember when their Dad played rugby league, but are “very excited that all the players are remembering their Daddy”.
Mum Erin Seton, Boyde’s former partner, hoped the football match would help break down the barriers for others seeking help for their mental health.
“It is great to see the teams he played for acknowledging mental health,” she said.
“It is so important to be able to communicate with others, and not be embarrassed by the stigma surrounding the disease.
“It is a real thing.”
According to the National Rugby League (NRL), on average 2.5 players in every team will experience mental health challenges.
The NRL described mental illness as Australia’s single biggest health issue, impacting almost one in two people and has been working to provide workshops and resources to help those affected through its State of Mind program.
Through the mantra of “In footy and in life, be there for an offload”, the program promotes the fact that, just like an offload can change a game of rugby league, a conversation can change a day or even a life when it comes to mental health.
With the support of the NSW government, the NRL’s State of Mind program is reaching out into regional NSW, while the Australian government provides assistance in supporting Indigenous mental health, connected with the annual NRL All Stars.