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Country star's leading role

April 13, 2016 11:49 AM

John Williamson is a music star and an Essendon supporter.

John Williamson is a music star and an Essendon supporter.

One of Australia’s best known and most decorated country music stars will make a special appearance in the lead up to the inaugural ‘Country Game’ this Saturday at the MCG. 

In a career spanning nearly 50 years, John Williamson has won 24 Golden Guitar trophies at the Australian Country Music Awards. 

He’s also picked up three ARIA awards for Best Country Album, is a member of the Hall of Fame and has sold more than four million albums in Australia. 

Ahead of the match between Essendon and Geelong, Williamson will perform at the Powercor Country Game Festival Site outside the ground. 

Then nearing the first bounce he’ll perform an Australian classic as the players take their positions at the ‘G. 

“It is a coliseum and to be out there in the middle of it is a privilege,” Williamson said. 

“I can only imagine how magic it will feel for the country players who are playing there.”

MAIN STAGE PERFORMANCES (near Gate 3)

11:35AM           Darcy Nolan

12:15PM           Mustered Courage

1:00PM             John Williamson

Williamson was born in Quambatook in northwestern Victoria and it was here he first developed a love of life on the land, music and football.

“It was a pretty little town.  It’s very little now – I think even the pub is struggling,” Williamson said.

“When I was a kid, Aussie Rules was everything – it was a way of life.

“The neighbour over the road from us was an Essendon fan.  I don’t know if it was the colours, but I’ve been an Essendon fan ever since. 

“I can remember hearing a lot about John Coleman when I was growing up.” 

Like many of the game’s greats, Coleman originated from the country. 

The brainchild of Kevin Sheedy, the ‘Country Game’ aims to recognise not only the contribution of country footballers, but also the wider role those living on the land make to Australian society.

Williamson said the concept of providing further acknowledgement of the risks people living on the land take is ‘fantastic’.

“I know when I was growing up on the land we had a bit of a complex that everyone thought we were hicks,” he said.

“But I think that’s changed a bit now.  With all the draught relief initiatives we’ve had over the years, I think country people realise that they are appreciated.

“There is a lot of risk in it and there is a lot of risk for the people growing the wheat and running the dairies.  

“You can work 12 hour days for 12 months of the year and you could have been better off sitting on your bum when drought happens or the wheat prices drop.”

Australian Made is a proud supporter of the ‘Country Game’ and John Williamson’s performances.

“The Australian Made Campaign is proud to be working with the Essendon and Geelong football teams to promote the importance of regional Australia and help showcase the great produce from regional Australia,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said. 

“Country towns produce some of the best Australia has to offer – from footy champions to iconic products and produce. 

“It will be great to see Australia’s farmers and manufacturers celebrated alongside our sporting heroes under the banner of the green-and-gold Australian Made, Australian Grown kangaroo logo at the inaugural Country Game.”