It’s not hard to spot a hip-hop head if you know what you’re looking for. Hoodies, caps and kicks were thick on the 12:53 Lilydale. Warriors and Kings tees. Sunglasses, probably hiding the hangover from last night’s All Stars gig. Pretty sure I even saw Fraksha fare evading up the other end of my carriage with his dog. Needless to say, we all disembarked at Glenferrie station for the pilgrimage to the Robert Hunter Cup, a charity football match in memory of Hunter (of the Syllabolix crew) who was taken by cancer 366 days previous.
Before I’d even set eyes on the oval I could hear the chanting. “HUNTER! HUNTER! HUNTER!” The Eastside Kings, a mass of blue, were running laps of the oval. The Westside Warriors were warming up on the far side. A crowd had already started to gather in the shadow of the Michael Tuck grandstand. Goonbag Radio had set up a portable broadcasting studio in a truck on the sidelines (out of eyeshot of the scoreboard, which would prove troublesome for the commentators later). Beatbox Kitchen was supplying the food. Monster was dishing out freebies from the back of a ute. Dvate was starting the mark-up of a mural dedicated to the West Australian legend. Fans were setting up on any available space around the oval. It was all coming together.
Shortly after 2pm Marley, Hunter’s son, took to the oval for the coin toss. The two teams, Warriors in red and Kings in blue, converged on centre field, forming two opposing lines. Marley, surrounded by his father’s peers, tossed the coin. The Warriors would kick east, Kings west. Then the game began.
Safe to say the Warriors dominated from the first bounce, largely due to the efforts of Mr Grevis. The Kings failed to score a single goal in the first quarter, a fact that Suffa and Sesta at the Goonbag commentary desk were only too happy to point out. Repeatedly. Apart from very biased observations, the commentary consisted mainly of discussions of who K21’s real dad was, uncertainty of the actual score and who would get the first hit on Beats (and win the 18YO Chivas Regal bounty). But the first hit was on Crispy. From my vantage point it was difficult to see what happened, but one minute he was dashing for the ball, next he was on the grass surrounded by St John’s Ambulance personnel. Thankfully though, Crispy left the field on his feet, not on a gurney.
The first quarter ended with Suffa shouting “Stop! This is the siren!” in lieu of an actual siren, although I believe a vuvuzela was provided by Dedlee Jr. for future use. The score was 0-0-2 vs 3-3-21 to the Warriors. The Kings huddled around their captain, Trem, for a pep talk. Trem himself was off the field due to an injury at their last training session, but he must’ve said something right because the Kings came back swinging in the second quarter, scoring two goals and a further point. At the end of the first half the Warriors still lead though, 2-3-15 to 4-4-28.
By the end of the third quarter it seemed like the Westside Warriors had the cup in the bag, widening their lead to a massive 18 points, 4-4-28 to 7-4-46. But the Kings fought back in the final quarter, largely thanks to some deadly accurate kicking by Scott Dooley. In the dying minutes of the game they were only two points short of the Warriors. The Westsiders fought to maintain their lead but were unable to stop Reason kicking the final goal of the match, putting the Kings ahead by 4 points and winning the game 7-8-50 to 7-4-46. Fists went skywards from the Kings contingent at the final siren. What a win!
Players and their families, friends and spectators all came together for post-game speeches. An esky was passed around to collect donations for Make-A-Wish. Trem received the trophy for the victorious Eastside Kings. Scott Dooley was awarded Best on Ground, as well as picking up the bottle of Chivas for getting the first hit on Beats. Dools also managed to get sponsored $100 per goal he scored from Hong Kong Phooty (who actually donated a round $500) and Stuart Haven from Vibe Electrical. Dedlee announced that the match ball would be given to Marley. The teams gathered for photos, Dvate finished off his mural, Goonbag clicked off and a huge collective of Australian rappers left Glenferrie oval to either go home and sit in a bath of salts, or more likely, to have a drink in Hunter’s honour.
The objective of the Robert Hunter Cup was twofold; to remember a legend in the Australian hip-hop scene and to raise money for Make-A-Wish, both of which were achieved spectacularly. While the Kings won the match, the Warriors were the clear winners in donations, raking in a massive $9,671 from generous supporters. The Kings collected a not-to-be-sneezed-at $5,268 for a grand total of $14,939 (not including money collected on the day) donated to Make-A-Wish. Bloody incredible. Massive thanks and congratulations to Dedlee, Bias B, Heata and Stewbakka for organising the entire event and pulling it off on the day.
But the event achieved a third, less expected success: bringing together an incredible number of artists and contributors from every corner of the genre. Seeing Headlock and Dazastah playing alongside each other, Bias B handballing the leather to Crispy, Trem patting Urthboy on the back, Chris Gill clashing with Kai in the ruck or Drapht dodging a tackle by Tornts was special. I don’t know of any other scene in Australia, or even the world, where such a diverse range of musicians could come together from all over the country and play a ball game to celebrate the life of a fallen comrade. Such is the spirit of the hip-hop community in Australia and the strength and importance of Hunter’s position within it. I hope the Robert Hunter Cup becomes an annual tradition. It deserves to be. RIP Huntz.
A full list of the players involved can be found here.
Keep an eye out on the Goonbag Radio website for the audio commentary, which should be available soon.