Kay Esmond was awarded the game ball at the Gold Coast Suns game.
Kay Esmond was awarded the game ball at the Gold Coast Suns game. Contributed

Birthday celebrated in style

Kay Esmond meeting Rabbitohs Greg Inglis.
Kay Esmond meeting Rabbitohs Greg Inglis.

To celebrate Kay's birthday, she and husband Shane planned one big weekend filled with sport, as both their teams South Sydney Rabbitohs and Gold Coast Suns were playing.

As staunch members of both clubs, the games coincided perfectly for the couple, who were at Suncorp for the Friday night game between the Broncos and Rabbitohs.

But the excitement didn't end with the final whistle, spilling over to the next day.

"On Saturday morning, we were invited along to a meet and greet/player signing where we got to meet the players, have a chat and get merchandise and photos signed," Kay said.

"All of the players are extremely friendly - it was a real buzz to be able to meet my two favourite players, Sam Burgess and Jason Clarke, for a second time.

"They signed our Rabbitohs flag and a team photo - we even got the man in our mascot suit Reggie Rabbit to sign my Reggie toy."

 

The birthday presents didn't end there for Kay who received a phone call from the Suns' membership administrator Campbell Hall who told them their seats had been upgraded as a birthday treat.

"So we got to sit right at the 50 metre line, which gave us an excellent view whenever anyone scored a goal or took a fantastic mark," Kay said in excitement.

"At three-quarter time, when it was announced on the big screen that one Suns member would be taking home the ball I had joked with Shane, 'wouldn't that just be an awesome birthday present - to be awarded the match ball'.

"With around five minutes of the match to go, Campbell came and sat next to me and asked me how I was enjoying the game.

"Campbell then told me that the seat upgrade was part of a special birthday surprise, that I was being awarded with the match ball at the end of the game (because) at the end of every Suns home game, they award one lucky member with the ball.

"I was stoked. I certainly never thought that I would be picked."

To receive the match ball, Kay got to walk through the player tunnels, past the dressing rooms and stand at the edge of the oval to watch the final minutes of the game. "At the end of the game, Michael Rischitelli, who coincidentally is player number 35 and presented me with the ball for my 35th birthday, presented me with the match ball and signed it as well, which was shown up on the big screen," she said.

"I always love going to Suns home games for the great family atmosphere, live bands, games and especially kick-to-kick where you get to kick a footy around on the oval after the game but to be awarded the match ball was a real honour.

"Campbell told me that I'd been chosen to receive the match ball because I'm always making positive comments about the Suns on their Facebook and Instagram accounts and that it was great to have a member who was so positive about the team, win or lose.

"It was definitely a birthday that I'll never forget.

"We are currently working on getting all of our signed memorabilia from both games to be framed so that we can put them on display - like Darryl Kerrigan said in the castle, 'they're going straight to the pool room'."


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