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Swans-GWS derby in Albury on Friday

Swans coach Longmire (right) with Lance 'Buddy' Franklin

The New South Wales regional city of Albury, sitting on the Victorian border, will host a Sydney Derby clash when the Swans and Giants meet at Lavington Sports Ground on Friday.

Locals are also invited to head to Lavington Sports Ground on the afternoon of Thursday, February 24, to watch Sydney’s captains run a training session.

Sydney’s senior coach John Longmire, a product of the Corowa-Rutherglen region, is behind the initiative. Longmire said the visit to regional NSW will help reignite the AFL spirit in communities hit hard by the pandemic:

“I was down there at the end of 2020 and there were a lot of businesses and people struggling with closures,” Longmire said. “Obviously being on the border they were impacted greatly by decisions to open and close the NSW-Victorian border at different times. It was a really tough period for everyone all over the country, but in particular for border residents who are impacted by the decisions of different states.”

Longmire called to Federal MP Sussan Ley, and the Swans say it wasn’t long before plans were in motion to bring a pre-season match to Albury.

AlburyCity Mayor Kylie King said it’s a great opportunity to see AFL heroes in action at one of the best sporting venues in regional Australia.

Longmire also revealed he has a small surprise in store for some of the players while they’re in Albury.

“The guys don’t know it yet, but I’ve got a bit of work lined up for them to do. I’ve got a few thousand sheep to crutch and few kilometres of fencing to do to finish their pre-season off, which I’m sure they’re looking forward to. It’ll be good to get them down to the Murray for a swim too, get a few of the city boys to jump in the river and realise what the country life is all about. We’ve got several boys from the country who are really looking forward to it. After being in a bubble for so long it will be great to get out amongst the community.

The federal member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, downplayed her role in the snap move for an Albury match, deflecting credit to Corowa product Longmire.

Speaking to Flow, Ley said Longmire championed the need for high-profile AFL matches to be played in regional towns, where so many star players have hailed from:

“I caught up with John Longmire, who of course comes from this region, Corowa and has never forgotten country football and the need to involve our local towns, who by the way contribute some incredible players to the AFL.”
“We had a chat and he indicated that the Swans were keen to come out, out of Sydney for a practice game and indeed that’s exactly what they’re far three thousand tickets have been sold.”
“So that’s pretty good news for our region, we have a lot of Swans fans.”
“I think I probably just made the point of how much we love the team here [Sydney Swans], how important it is for us not to be left out when it comes to seeing our favourite players...Lavington Oval of course is now in ship-shape after some upgrades from the federal government and so it’s a perfect location for the game.”

The match gets underway at 6pm (AEST) on Friday 25 February and adult tickets can be purchased for $15 online, with gates opening at 4pm.


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