Neale in for fight of his life

NEALE Daniher has always been a fighter ... even when the odds have been stacked against him.

Along with his brothers, Terry, Anthony and Chris, he helped put the tiny New South Wales Riverina town of Ungarie on the map in the early-1980s.

They were the ultimate country boys, who may have looked out of place in the big smoke - it wouldn't have surprised to see them running around the footy fields of Melbourne with a piece of straw hanging out of their mouths - but, they could certainly play the game.

Jim and Edna's boys became the first quartet of brothers to play in the same team at VFL/AFL level when they finally stepped out together in 1990 with Essendon, just a few weeks after representing NSW in a state of origin fixture.

The feat was only achieved because of Neale's determination to overcome multiple knee injuries, which restricted him to just 82 games over 13 seasons with the Bombers and denied him the chance to be a part of premiership success in 1984 and 1985.

Neale was never one to wallow and after his playing days were officially over, he turned to coaching, firstly as an assistant at the fledgling Fremantle, and then the senior job at Melbourne.

Long before Paul Roos became known as the Demons' messiah, Daniher earned the nickname 'The Reverend', while taking the struggling side from last in 1997 to a grand final in 2000, only to beaten by his former club, Essendon, which was having one of the great seasons.

But Daniher has now got an even bigger challenge on his hands than trying to take the long-struggling Melbourne to premiership glory.

And The Reverend isn't just preaching to the Demons' faithful, but the masses in his campaign against MND - the incurable motor neurone disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2013.

He spoke to the current Demons playing list a couple of weeks ago, and visited Collingwood last week ahead of today's Queen's Birthday match at the MCG, which is doubling as the 'Big Freeze at the 'G' to raise both awareness of the disease and money to go towards treatment and hopefully, ultimately, a cure.

Taking things further than last year's 'Ice Bucket Challenge', footy personalities such as Garry Lyon, Dermott Brereton and Sam Newman will today slide into a pool of ice water.

An incredibly nasty customer, the disease ensures the nerves that enable the body to move, speak and breathe, slowly die.

Though his speech has slurred, Daniher has lost none of his wit, and was in fine form when speaking to the Magpies.

"MND is a killer. I call it The Beast. Once you're diagnosed with it, you get a death certificate with it because it kills 100% of people that are diagnosed with it," he said. "On average it takes 27 months to kill, but it will take a bit longer to kill me."

Inspiring to the end, Daniher has work to do and certainly won't be going down without one heck of a fight.

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