When Donovan de Ligt was twenty years old, his mum inexplicably gave away his favourite jersey.
His Bradley Clyde replica jersey, which featured Bega Cheese on the sleeves held a special place for Donovan, but while he was away on a posting for work, it was given as a parting gift to the familly’s American exchange student.
“I could not believe it,” de Ligt said. “I didn’t find out until two months later. I’d come home and was checking through my cupboard – I had three or four jerseys at that stage. I tried explaining to my mum, but she did not understand the gravity of the situation.”
Although Donovan hasn’t seen that jersey since, he was ecstatic when he was sent a 2020 Player Cut Jersey signed by the entire Raiders team as part of the Membership Surprise and Delight Rewards.
To show appreciation for the loyalty shown by Raiders members, the club decided to thank 17 randomly selected members with this prize and Donovan was certainly surprised at first.
“It was completely unexpected,” de Ligt. “I got this little red note in the mailbox saying to go to the Bungendore Post Office.
“I drove out there and thought, ‘What have I bought?’. I found this black box and I’m standing on the side of the road in Bungendore, nobody around. I opened it up and I was like ‘Oh my goodness!’. Not much blows me away these days but I was completely blown away.
“I felt like telling anyone down the main street. I brought it with me all day and when I went to a meeting, I told everyone. It’s become part of my Raiders story.”
It’s so amazing. I’m not an emotional guy, but I had a tear in my eye.Donovan de Ligt
Receiving the jersey in 2020 makes the gift even more special for Donovan who started the year with the Rural Fire Service helping fight the horrific bushfires and also was responsible for the COVID Safety Response for his current workplace.
“All through Christmas and New Year’s I was out on the fire-front, 12 days out in searing temperatures fighting fires. It was very rewarding going and meeting people and working to save their house,” de Ligt said. “This year for me has been crazy and intense pushing your mind to the limit.”
Born to Dutch migrants, Donovan became hooked on rugby league and in particular the Raiders after watching the 1989 Grand Final as a 13-year-old.
Now his daughter Michaela and son Lachlan have joined him in supporting the Raiders with his wife Lyndal who was also “blown away” by the signed jersey.
Since moving to Canberra in 2003, Donovan has been a member with the club and loved the extra member events he’s been able to attend with his family while also making connections with people who share the same passion.
“I’ve been going long enough to get to know the people around me, I see them every fortnight and say g’day and see how they’re going. There’s almost a community within the fans that you develop.”
That’s why Donovan didn’t hesitate to renew his membership for the 2021 season.
“I didn’t even have to think about it,” de Ligt said. “For me, I just love coming to the footy and being a part of it. At the moment the Raiders are such an exciting team and I want to be a part of that. But for me, even if we came 16th last year I’d still sign up.
“I feel that you get so much more out of the game when you’re there.”
Join Donovan and Join the Raid in 2021 by becoming a Raiders Member. raiders.com.au/membership