Enjoying a day at the races at Murray Bridge’s Gifford Hill facility could be the second sporting bucket-list item AFL footballer Brandon Zerk-Thatcher crosses off in 2020.
The first was achieved in Adelaide just a few weeks ago, when the Essendon key position player – who spent time working for the Murray Bridge Racing Club before being drafted – was able to play in front of his family for the first time.
Zerk-Thatcher debuted for the Bombers as a late call-up against Fremantle in Perth last season, meaning his family was unable to attend, but his luck changed when he was again elevated from the emergency list for Essendon’s match against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval last month.
“I ended up getting the family tickets for it,” Zerk-Thatcher said.
“It panned out well: we got a nice win and they got to come to the footy.”
With that box ticked, Zerk-Thatcher is now focused on the remaining weeks of Essendon’s 2020 AFL campaign, including today’s match against Port Power at Adelaide Oval, before a post-season return to South Australia – and hopefully a race meeting at Murray Bridge.
Back before his AFL days, Zerk-Thatcher did some part-time work at the old Murray Bridge racetrack, via an association with club secretary/manager John Buhagiar.
For approximately a year he – along with best mate Jarrad Burat – acted as a ‘track stamper’, filling in divots to earn some money, while also helping to set-up packages ahead of the club’s bigger race days.
“Yeah, John offered me a few hours down at the race course and I also did some work experience there,” Zerk-Thatcher said.
“It was just every now and then.”
Zerk-Thatcher, whose family is still in Murray Bridge, remains a racing fan, but is yet to attend the Gifford Hill track – an anomaly he hopes to correct soon.
“I keep an eye on the races a little bit, I enjoy a punt and I love going to the races,” he said.
“I’ve been (to the new site), when I was doing a bit of work for the club. We travelled across to it and had a quick look at it from afar, but I haven’t been there to watch any races yet, unfortunately.
“I’m definitely keen (to attend the races). I’ll be heading back to Adelaide in a couple of weeks, so I’ll be travelling down to Murray Bridge a fair bit to see the family. I’ll definitely pop in to watch some races if I can.”
Zerk-Thatcher, 22, has played eight games this year and is contracted until the end of 2021.