This is “a momentous occasion for an Australian warship to play an AFL match in Vietnam”, wrote Brent “Irvo” Irving, coach of the HMAS Anzac’s team.
On Tuesday, a number of the Vietnam Swans players had a private tour of HMAS ANZAC. It went for 3 hours and included a couple of Crown Lagers each (how tasty were the Crownies? Like an angel crying on the tip of your tongue!). On the tour, we passed through one of the dining rooms. “That’s where we will hang a framed Vietnam Swans jumper and next to it we will put a photo of the match”, said Irvo.
The following day (Wednesday 27 August) we all sneaked out of work a bit early to get to RMIT University in time for the twilight match that would commence at 5.00pm. The marquee on the side oval and the Al Frescos, Foster’s Lager, Jim Beam and souvenir t-shirt tents – as well as the giant match day banner (see attached) – signaled that today an event would be held. There were approximately 250 people in attendance including 134 Navy personnel. Photographers from a number of organizations including the Navy, The Word and Asialife were there snapping.
The setting sun made the perfect setting for the match between the Vietnam Swans and HMAS ANZAC. The ANZACs were quick out of the blocks but the Swans pegged them back to be equal with them at half time. The scores were 40 points each. In the second half, the ANZACs who have to train sandwiched between missiles, machine guns, ropes and radar equipment, seemed to struggle with the open space of RMIT’s main oval. The Vietnam Swans kicked on to win 84 points to 59 points.
The match was played in the best of spirits which flowed on into the post match festivities at the ground.
In one of his final official duties as the Australian Consul General, Mal Skelly presented the trophy to the Swans Acting Captain, Drew Franklin. Mal also informed the Navy that they could take the Match Day Banner (the Navy said we had a choice: “You can give the banner to us or we’ll take it”). The banner will be hung up on the roof of one of the cabins on board the ANZAC.
Everyone mingled and ate and drank and bought raffle tickets and ANZAC shirts and Swans shirts. Everyone was having a great time. One sailor commented that the footy match was the highlight of the ANZAC’s 6 month deployment.
By 8pm, most people had left for the No. 5 Bar – home of the Vietnam Swans 2008 AFL Grand Final Party. The place was buzzing. The Vietnam Swans then presented the ANZAC with a poster of Miss Australia wearing our new jumper. The ANZAC’s Billy from full back held the poster more tightly than he did the full forward during the game.
Wednesday 27 August 2008 was a momentous occasion.
Photos available shortly.
- HMAS ANZAC (especially Irvo) for coming to Vietnam to play footy (and other stuff) and giving us the tour of the ship
- RMIT University for providing such magnificent facilities and to Curtis for ensuring that the oval was properly prepared for an AFL match
- Mal Skelly, Australian Consul General for presenting us with the trophy – before giving away our match day banner!
- Dan Kindness, Australian Defence Attache, Hanoi, for coming up with the idea of a footy match and organizing most of the logistics on the naval side (and playing for the Vietnam Swans)
- Richard Beecher the field umpire and the 2 goal umpies from the ANZAC
- Jo and Emma Armstrong and Sar Stacey for selling jumpers, souvenir t-shirts and raffle tickets (A special mention to Jo – a few weeks ago she also recruited Danny Monk for the Swans who went on to win Best on Ground for the Swans!)
- Saigon Geckos Rugby Club for giving us the use of their rugby goal posts
- Scotty Stacey for organizing t shirts, catering and the most awesome temporary point posts you will ever see!
- Drew Franklin for organizing the refreshments and trophy
- Ms Diep from Blue Ink Asia for designing the fantastic t shirts and banner
- (Apologies to the people I should have mentioned specifically)
- All the people who came out to support the match and the event
Special Thanks to our Sponsors
- Linfox – Jumper Sponsor
- Loscam Pallets – Jumper Sponsor
- Blue Ink Asia – Designer of the jumpers and souvenir t-shirts
- Pest Free – Goal posts sponsor (the club will purchase genuine AFL goal posts which should help our scoring…)
- Bobby Brewers Coffee (400B Le Van Sy Street, District 3) – Shorts Sponsor
- Foster’s Lager – Sponsor of the beer at the Anzac Match as well as our Grand Final Party
- Jim Beam – Sponsor for the Anzac Match, the Asian Champs and our Grand Final Party
- Van Phat Wines – Sponsor of the wines at the Anzac Match
- No. 5 Bar – Venue for the after match party and for the Grand Final Party
- Big Rooster Footy – Maker of our footy jumpers
- Adam Hurley – Designer of the Swans website which attracts 5,000 hits per month
Phil Johns, National President, Vietnam Swans