The fifth annual Victory Against Cancer game takes place this Sunday on AAMI Park, the All-Stars – including former Victory favourites Archie Thompson and Grant Brebner – taking on a team of fans.
All told the annual match-up has raised in excess of $170,000 for Melanoma research, a figure due in no small part to the hard work and donations of fundraisers such as Bray Hodgkinson.
Bray is a veteran of these matches and has earned his spot in a fourth consecutive fan team on the back of yet another stellar fundraising effort, contributing over $3,000 this year.
“It means the world for me to be involved,” Bray said pre-match.
“The feeling of both helping those in need as well as fulfilling childhood dreams, such as playing on the big stage, are feelings you can’t beat.
“I’ve spent quite a few years watching the boys, so it’s an unreal experience to get out onto the pitch.”
A dyed-in-the-wool Melbourne Victory fan, in years past Bray’s fundraising efforts had come mostly from family and friends, but in preparation for the 2018 edition he well and truly lifted his game.
“This year I held a charity event which I called ‘Bray’s Victory Against Cancer Charity Gala.’
“The night was a huge success, there was over 180 guests in attendance and I can’t wait to do more of them in the future.
A striker by trade, when asked what sort of player he is Bray is as humble as they come – though he fancies the fans chances of going back-to-back.
“I’m reasonably average, if I’m honest!
“Depends on the day, sometimes I can seem half-reasonable, but on a bad day it’s not the best viewing… being a striker it’s all about form – who knows what sort of form I’ll be in come Sunday!
“I haven’t been told what the All-Stars squad is… perhaps that’s a tactic to keep us in the dark. I’ve heard whispers big Brendan Fevola is coming down – he was my childhood hero as a Carlton fan.
“The chance to beat George again is exciting, and so too is playing against Archie. He’s a great man and he’s still got it from a playing perspective.”
As much fun as the day promises to be, Bray knows in the bigger picture it’s the cause that matters most.
“The most important part of the match is the awareness side of things; I strongly believe that awareness raised is just as valuable as money raised in some circumstances.
“The more people who are made aware of the risks of cancer and what it can do to people, as well as what their money can do to help those in need, it’s incredibly important and events like this shed a light on that.”
The fifth annual Victory Against Cancer game kicks off at 12:15 on Sunday. Donations can be made here.