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Huge crowd awakens for Sleapy’s Day

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He might not have got the result he craved… but Peter Sleap didn’t really care.

Although his beloved South Newcastle Lions suffered a hard-fought 24-10 loss to the Maitland Pickers in the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) top of the table clash at the weekend, his charity was the big winner.

A massive crowd, estimated to be more than 3,000, converged on Merewether’s Townson Oval to witness a great showdown on Saturday – and raise much-needed funds for Sleapy’s Foundation.

In just over a decade, the organisation’s main event on the calendar, Sleapy’s Day, has amassed and distributed almost $1 million since its humble beginnings in 2010.

Although that total is set for a major financial boost, thanks to a variety of fundraising activities, including several auctions at the ground and at Souths Merewether afterwards.

“I’m glad Sleapy’s Day is finally here,” Sleap said.

“There’s been a lot of work put into it.

“So, it’s absolutely amazing to see the people streaming through the gates, with smiles on their faces.

“We might have to find a larger ground soon.

“You don’t get many days like this, crowd-wise.

Sleapy's Day
Sleapy’s Foundation founder Peter Sleap at Townson Oval on Saturday. Photo: Rod Thompson

“In fact, I can’t think of a club round that matches it… it’s pretty special.

“I believe Sleapy’s Foundation is becoming more known throughout the community.

“And, if people know it’s for a good cause, and they know the money is going to help others, they get behind it.

“They’ve done that [today].

“Any money raised flows through to the foundation, a charity that tackles cancer, adversity, poverty, sickness, helplessness, distress or social isolation by providing help by means of immediate cash relief or experiences, either physically or emotionally, that aid in the quality of life in children and adults.

“So, can Sleapy’s Day get any bigger… who knows?”

It’s a far cry from the inaugural event, which drew a handful of supporters.

“Yes, it’s certainly grown,” Sleap admitted.

“Now, I’m asking myself questions like: where does it go now, when does it stop or what happens next?

“I don’t know the answers, however when you get this many people enjoying this day, it can feel overwhelming trying to back it up again.

“How do you better it?

“Overall, I’m just very appreciative of everyone’s support.

“But, I need to thank my wife Robynn, Dave Fleming and the team, who’ve done an exceptional job putting it all together.”

And, despite the scoreline, Sleap remains confident his Lions can roar when it matters most… on grand final day.

“Up until this game, the boys had won 10 on the trot,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

Robynn and Peter Sleap. Photo: Rod Thompson

“So, maybe, this was the match they needed to drop before the play-offs in a fortnight’s time.

“I’m still bloody proud of them.

“Andrew Ryan and his coaching staff will have the guys firing at the business end of the season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see these two sides meet again in the Denton Engineering Cup decider.

“Credit goes to Maitland, too, they were sensational to deal with.”

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