An online petition to get AFL great and former Melbourne Demons coach Neale Daniher a travel exemption for the Grand Final in Perth next weekend is gaining steam, with over 64,000 people signing it by Monday afternoon.
After the Melbourne team locked in its first grand final appearance in 21 years by defeating the Geelong Cats 125 to 42 on Friday night (a certified spanking, let’s be real), a Change.org petition was kicked up to get the footy legend to the game at Optus Stadium on September 25.
Neale, who was the senior coach of the Demons for 10 seasons between 1998 to 2007, developed Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2013, and dedicated the rest of his life to education Australians about the incurable disease with his charity, Fight MND. Ahead of this year’s Big Freeze event in June, the charity had also raised over $48 million for research into MND.
He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2016 for his advocacy work, and in 2021 he was promoted to Officer of the Order of Australia for his “distinguished service to people with Motor Neurone Disease and their families”. In short, the bloke’s a bloody legend, and this is the first time in over two decades that his beloved Dees are in the granny.
Neale responded to the petition, which he stressed wasn’t kicked off by himself or anyone he knows, saying that it’s “very flattering”, but he isn’t wanting any special treatment over others who are trying to get into the state for things outside of the AFL grand final.
“I’m not looking for any preferential treatment,” he said in a statement on the charity’s Instagram.
“I’m just like all Dees supporters in lockdown, nervous but hopeful we can get it done.”
Despite Neale’s modesty, the petitions numbers continue to grow, with tens of thousands of people supporting the push to get the humble king to the game.
May I add my voice to the mix and say: Premier Mark McGowan, do us a solid and let the Neale Daniher into Western Australia to see his beloved Dees at the big dance. C’mon, you blocked Eddie McGuire so maybe Neale can take his spot instead.