Unity and rivalry the best way to honour ANZAC Day

Damo Roar Guru

By Damo, Damo is a Roar Guru

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    Every year, in front of 90,000 plus fans, two Melbourne clubs battle it out in a traditional match. The rest of us battle it out in the public forum over the validity of the game.

    So much of the debate is centred on the two teams involved. Many feel it should be a privilege to play on such a sacred day, not a right solely afforded to Collingwood and Essendon. These people often argue the previous year’s grand final teams should have the privilege, a la the NRL and most state-based competitions.

    Others argue the round should be shared in other ways, Like Lethal Leigh Mathews, who argued recently the game, being incredibly Melbourne-centric in nature, should be a right for the two highest-ranked Melbourne teams.

    Undoubtedly this would anger both the traditionalists and the non-Victorian rabble-rousers over the border (of which I am proudly one).

    But changing the day at all would risk damaging years of hard work and the resulting revenue for both clubs, the AFL (and by extension the rest of the clubs), and the nature of the day, which should rightly be steeped in tradition and ritual.

    I argue that the game between Collingwood and Essendon, which yearly draws in more people than the NRL with its grand final teams model could even dream of mustering, should remain sacred. Even a foreign crow-eating heathen like myself can see the advantage in having such a gem of a game in the league’s crown.

    But for those who (quite rightly) wish to share the pie, or perhaps the ANZAC biscuit, this won’t do. After all it’s simply another chance for the Vics to enforce some imagined ownership of the game and neglect the rest, right?

    Well, wrong.

    Every school kid knows the game was not an AFL initiative, but one launched by the Woods and the Dons. A grassroots, tail wagging the dog initiative.

    Please sir, may we play on ANZAC day and create something unique?

    Such initiatives are so rare in modern sports that they should be respected, rewarded, and honoured. If other teams want the right to play on ANZAC day, fantastic – get a plan, get together with your neighbour, and do it.

    The Crows and Power recently began just such a plan, with negotiations supposedly under way behind closed doors between the two South Australian clubs. Any game played between these clubs may or may not be played on ANZAC day, but another ANZAC tradition in another state would not only be good for the league and the occasion, but for the ANZAC Day tradition as a whole.

    After all, such great events held in the public eye help to not only honour but entrench the memory of the ANZACS and their deeds. This should not be a Victorian sentiment, but a national one.

    In a perfect system, Collingwood and Essendon would play their traditional game on ANZAC day. It brings in the crowds, the bucks (no pun intended), and it has the history and tradition. Like anything that was there first, it deserves credit. At least.

    Then the weekend would host rivalry round. Now that we have legitimate rivals in each state of the country, we could bill the round less as the old hatreds being reignited, but as a day for neighbours to stand together and remember the cause.

    Power and Crows fans standing side by side in silent reflection as the Last Post plays. GWS and Swans fans shaking hands and sharing a bear at the pub after. Richmond and Carlton fans letting their kids play together just for the day.

    Not only enjoying the day and the freedoms the ANZACS died to give us, but also embodying our Diggers – they, like footy fans, came from every walk of life, from different ethnicities, creeds and political persuasions, but still stood side by side for the cause.

    We as footy fans could embody this by sharing the chips and sauce with our most hated neighbour. Across the Ditch, similar sentiments could be expressed with exhibition matches. I love Saint Kilda’s initiative to play for four points in The Land of the Long White Cloud, and the AFL should be at pains to allow it and find them an opponent.

    If ANZAC days is for all, which it is, then the day should be shared. But taking the day from two teams who have worked on creating a grand spectacle is not the way.

    Expanding it across all rivalries would truly embody the memory of the ANZACS.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • April 28th 2012 @ 6:16am
      Norm said | April 28th 2012 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      Don’t forget the Fremantle game. Their tribute to ANZAC Day is just as impressive. Also a full house

    • April 28th 2012 @ 8:53am
      Macca said | April 28th 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      Those defending the Collngwood -Essendon format arrogantly argue that no teams would draw 80,000 plus to an Anzac match. Well in 2011 Carlton and Collingwood drew 88,000 and Geelong and Collingwood drew 81,000 and they did it without the support of an Anzac Day clash. People want to see the best of the best on Anzac Day and that is why I support the concept of the two highest placed Victorian teams playing it – not an exclusive Coll-Essendon concept.

      • April 29th 2012 @ 9:56am
        Con said | April 29th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Yeah, but take away both essendon and colligwood. Which other two teams could fill the G with 80,000 – 90,000 people each year?

    • Roar Guru

      April 28th 2012 @ 9:26am
      The Cattery said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      It’s a good point, it was the clubs, in partnership with the RSL, that made the initiative for the match on ANZAC Day, the AFL endorsed it later – so it’s quite incorrect for people to refer to it as some sort of opportunistic money-making venture..

      Sheeds vision at all times, from the very start was to both do it in conjunction with the RSL and to make sure that the event was fully respectful of the ANZAC tradition.

      If anything, a whole generation of Australians, from many backgrounds, have been educated anew about the ANZACs.

      • April 28th 2012 @ 9:44am
        Titus said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Watching a game of football isn’t educating people about the war, do kids really understand the horror of war? Or are they going to think it was pretty cool and glamourous and a bit like barracking for a footy club?

        • Roar Guru

          April 28th 2012 @ 10:30am
          The Cattery said | April 28th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Titus
          everyone involved is moved by the pre-match commemorations and minutes silence, etc.

          I think many would agree that it has had a positive effect on a new generation of Australians, recalling that it was only 20 years or so ago when many feared for the survival of ANZAC Day.

          On top of all that, it is not for nothing that the MCG is referred to Australia’s Cathedral.

    • April 28th 2012 @ 9:34am
      Kasey said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Undoubtedly this would anger both the traditionalists and the non-Victorian rabble-rousers over the border (of which I am proudly one)

      Great little piece. I’m happy to have the SANFL AnzacDay clash being the GF replay. It works well for us here especially when Adelaide Oval isn’t a construction site and the game happens just over the road from the cenotaph/st Peter’s cathedral .
      Off topic – I’m curious. I’m trying to explain to some American friends just how deep this dislike everybody from the southern states(the Aussie Rules ones at least SA/WA/TAS) has of Victoria and its inhabitants. Can anybody think of an American equivalent? I’m pretty sure lots of Americans dislike California, but only because of its image as a liberal(free thinking – not Tony Abbott! stronghold) state that endorses things like gay lifestyles and marrage thart ‘middle America’ tends to take longer to come around to . Texans are arrogant like Vics Ć«verything is bigger in Texas etc, but AFAIK Only Oklahoma refers to them as Tex- ass and that has a lot to do with the red river rivalry (Oklahoma Sooners v Texas Longhorns in College Football.

      • April 28th 2012 @ 10:29am
        rikki doyle said | April 28th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        collingwood and essendon should remain the only teams to play on anzac day thats tradition just saying

      • Roar Guru

        April 28th 2012 @ 10:32am
        The Cattery said | April 28th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Perhaps you can make a reference to one of the many looney fringe groups in America?

      • April 28th 2012 @ 11:28am
        damo said | April 28th 2012 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        Perhaps NY and boston?

        • April 28th 2012 @ 12:34pm
          Kasey said | April 28th 2012 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          I think despite the tame American version of rivalry/barracking(a Red sawx fan in NYC yelling “you suck!” to a Yankees fan is considered risque/out of the norms?) I think there exists a basic level of respect between the two cities of Boston and New York that I don’t get observing the Adelaide and Melbourne rivalry. Besides, there’s more to the SA v VIC rivalry than just the 2 biggest cities in SA and VIC. it literally seems to be state against state at times.

          • April 28th 2012 @ 9:44pm
            Paul said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

            Being American, I can tell you that your perception of a dislike for California is incorrect. Oh, no doubt, many Americans do not care for California’s (Or New York City’s) politics, but still respect (possibly even admire) the state and the city. Most strong rivalries in the US are city based because of our much greater population. The two biggest rivalries I can think of are the New York City-Boston and San Francisco-Los Angeles rivalries. The only state-based rivalry I can think of, and then it is only in university football (gridiron) is Ohio – Michigan.

      • April 28th 2012 @ 3:07pm
        Whites said | April 28th 2012 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

        It’s not really state based but there is some level of north-south antipathy remaining in the US. Afterall there was a war. It’s probably more in some parts of the south then it is in the north.

    • April 28th 2012 @ 12:40pm
      steggz said | April 28th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      Just a small point: NRL doesn’t have a ‘grand final teams’ game on ANZAC Day. Dragons v Roosters started about 10 years ago, and Melbourne v Warriors started a couple of years ago.

    • April 28th 2012 @ 1:16pm
      JVGO said | April 28th 2012 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

      As part of the overrall day the services, the march and the two up and drinking a game of football is fine. The important thing would be for the football not to overshadow the other aspects of the day and become the centrepiece. The only place this could ever possibly happen is Melbourne of course.

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