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Meet the first fans to head back through the turnstiles at the footy

“Manly is the only team I have ever been a supporter of.”

Fellow member Sharon Kennedy has also been rewarded for her loyalty. The 54-year-old, who sits on the club’s member council, has missed only a handful of games over the past decade and will make the five-hour round trip from Mittagong with her 13-year-old son, Andrew, to watch the Broncos encounter.

Long-time Manly member Sharon Kennedy and her son Andrew, 13, have been chosen to be among the first fans to return to the NRL for the Sea Eagles clash against the Broncos.

Long-time Manly member Sharon Kennedy and her son Andrew, 13, have been chosen to be among the first fans to return to the NRL for the Sea Eagles clash against the Broncos.

“I am the most excited person in the world,” Kennedy said. “I remember when I went to the game on Saturday night, we played against Souths in 2007. We won the game, I was getting dreadful pains in my back, we came home and I gave birth on the Wednesday.

“Andrew went to his first game when he was two weeks old. We don’t miss many.”

Manly chief executive Stephen Humphreys said it was important to acknowledge and reward those who have supported the club.

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“We deliberately zeroed in on our longest-serving members first,” Humphreys said.

“They are the first group we want to recognise and give the opportunity to. I really think it will make a difference. First of all the team will know there are some fanatics in the stands willing them on. I daresay they will be in loud voice as well.”

The Sea Eagles are firm favourites against a Broncos outfit that has conceded 132 points from their opening four games.

“We play tomorrow night a team that has had the blowtorch put to them,” said Manly coach Des Hasler.

“I think it’s going to be their mentality tomorrow that is going to be the biggest challenge for both sides.

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“That will be the biggest part of it. They have changed a few positions around to try and work with it.”

The expected influx of a greater number of fans won’t be the only financial boost for clubs. The NRL on Wednesday outlined its intention to fund them to the tune of up to $7 million each for the period of June to October, a $112 million bonanza to ensure they survive the coronavirus crisis.

The ARLC is set to sign off on a proposal that will result in each club getting $6.2 million in cash, while a further $500,000 of club costs – for items such as insurance, GPS and statistics – will be waived for the period. An additional $300,000 will be given to each franchise if head office achieves its revenue targets, taking the total to $7 million each.

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