Despite coming off two massive wins, including a thrilling one-point clincher over Dubbo Demons last week, Orange Tigerettes are having their biggest game of the season this weekend against Bathurst Giants.
That’s not just because of the implications of the game – which are in themselves massive – but because this weekend the Giants and Tigerettes remember former Orange vice-captain Katrina Hobby.
Hobby died in November 2017 following a two-year battle with Ovarian cancer, and was one of the founding members of the Tigerettes, and lined up in their first game in 2015.
The game is the Katrina Hobby Memorial Shield, which will be held every year between Tigerettes and Bathurst, with Saturday’s inaugural match to be followed by a function up at Waratahs.
Over 100 tickets have been sold, which includes a silent auction for memorabilia from the Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs as well as oodles of other prizes and offers, while live music and more will also take place.
Whenever she was beside me I knew I was safe, you knew she had your back and she had everyone’s backFormer Tigerettes' vice-captain Kristen Hunter
There will be a best on ground medal awarded, and both sides will be donning teal socks with ‘VC’ written on them – the nickname for Hobby, who was the former Tigerettes vice captain.
Teal is the colour for Ovarian cancer, with the socks for both teams donated by Sportspower in Orange.
All the funds raised will go into a trust for Hobby’s two children, who will be at the game alongside family.
Renee Cullis, Dael Bingham, Jade Charnock, Kellie Tom, Cara Jordan and Julie Dittmar are the six Tigerettes playing in 2018 who lined up alongside Hobby in the first season, while former Orange captain and now Giants midfielder Jayarna Kay will also take to the field.
Cullis, who is the current Tigerettes captain but will potentially miss the rest of the season after having surgery on her gall bladder last week, said a lot of the older players would come back to watch the game, with some half a chance to pull on the boots.
“It will mean a lot to everyone, even the people not playing any more,” she said.
“She was a pretty awesome person, we want to do the memorial right.
“When she got sick she said she’d be back next year but when things took a turn for the worse we knew we’d do something like this to remember her, we figured the Giants would be the best club to do it with.”
Hobby’s brother Brodie Fields plays with the Giants’ men’s side, while former Tigerettes captain Kay was also very close with Hobby, who was her vice-captain.
Tigerettes’ 2016 vice-captain Kristan Hunter played alongside Hobby in their debut season and has been one of the key organisers of the game and the post-match function.
She said Hobby was a “huge” part of the club and was the heart of the side.
“She was very loyal, I lined up with her on the half-back line and whenever she was beside me I knew I was safe, you knew she had your back and she had everyone’s back,” Hunter said.
“If there was something happening in the forward line she’d run down and stand up for her mates.
“There’ll be lots of tears throughout the day, knowing the family will be there and are 100 per cent behind the game and have affiliation with both clubs.
“Jayarna Kay was the captain for Katrina’s vice, they were very close so it’ll be very personal for the Giants as well.”
Hobby had as big a heart off the field as on it, which says a lot considering some of her addresses in the huddle, and she was still heavily invested in the side all through her “inspiring” battle with cancer.
Many weekends were spent seeking treatment in Sydney instead of where she wanted to be – out on the football field.
“Once she got sick it didn’t stop her, she’d be at every game she could to support us and would message us every Saturday morning if she couldn’t make it,” Hunter said.
“She was in the rooms in the grand final and even though she couldn’t be out there on the field her journey was still going.
“She was a straight shooter – what you saw was what you got. She’s get in trouble many times for not using her filter. If she loved you she’d do anything for you and if she didn’t like you she let you know about it.
“She was a massive part of the team on and off the field.”
Tigerettes have organised this year’s event mostly off their own bat, with Giants to host the game next season and hold their own fundraiser.
Cullis said the idea was to let the club celebrate Hobby their own way.
“They’ll do it how they want to do it, if they want to raise money for the kids or something else,” Cullis said, but Hunter was hopeful money could be raised for her two young children each year.
“Putting funds into a secure account for the kids, if we can make 2k a year each year, by the time they’re 18 they should be able to access it and have a little bit there,” Hunter said.
The game will be huge for both clubs, with Tigers on a roll and full of belief in themselves after last week’s win over Dubbo – the first in two years – and a 100-point drubbing of Cowra.
Bathurst will also be looking for a win to leapfrog Dubbo into second place and win a double chance.
Once she got sick it didn’t stop her, she’d be at every game she could to support us and would message us every Saturday morning if she couldn’t make it.Former Tigerettes vice-captain Kristen Hunter
“I’ve been doing some groundwork and the Giants will be missing some players and our girls are coming off two big wins and are pretty pumped,” Hunter said.
However, Tigers have are a few key outs of their own, including Layne White and final-second hero from last weekBec Ford, who is playing a League Tag final in Mudgee with the Hawks, as well as Jedda Malone and Cullis.
The Katrina Hobby Memorial Shield kicks off at 12.45pm at Waratahs Sportsground after a minute’s silence, while the shield and best on ground medal will be awarded after the game.
The post game function follows the men’s game from 6.00pm at Waratahs, with dinner from from 6.30pm.