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Willy meets O’Keefe on the Crouch at JASPAS, Hanoi

Posted by Vietnam Swans on October 5, 2010

Sydney Swans stars, Ryan O'Keefe and Jared Crouch are currently leading a cycling tour through Vietnam to raise money for the Oncology Children's Foundation. Photo: Simon Alekna.

Last Sunday, the day after the 2010 AFL Grand Final Replay, Mark “Willy” Williams wandered back into JASPAS, Hanoi. He looked. He stared. He rubbed his eyes. Was he seeing things? In front of him, were two premiership players from the Sydney Swans 2005 campaign: and .

2010 has been a big year for O’Keefe having won the Bob Skilton B&F Medal, played his 200th game and become a father. Crouchie retired at the end of last year after playing 223 games – 194 of them were on the trot from debut which is an AFL record.

The two arrived in Hanoi on Saturday to lead a through the remote mountains of north east Vietnam to raise money for the . Childhood cancer is the single greatest cause of death from disease in Australian children.

O’Keefe has become an ambassador for the OCF and, together with Crouch, which provides funding for research into childhood cancers. In Australia, 700 children are diagnosed with cancer each year; 200 will not survive.

The cycling tour through the mountains shall be led by Adam Martin from who has taken photos of several Vietnam Swans matches.

Peter Westwood does a stunning job during the CARE AFL All Stars match in Hanoi, October 2006

Not the first time the Swannies have seen AFL stars on bicycles in Vietnam

This is not the first time the AFL Stars have descended upon Vietnam to ride bicycles for good causes.

In October 2006, Sam Gilbert, who played for the St Kilda in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final Replay, came to Vietnam with Brisbane triple premiership player, Clark Keating; Collingwood premiership player, Craig Starcevich; Adelaide premiership player Aaron Keating and the late Rob Dickson. They were with CARE Australia riding bicycles to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.

While they were here, as the then Hanoi Swans, we hosted a match against them on the hallowed dirt of Dead Cat Stadium under the dimmest lights you have ever seen!

The CARE AFL All Stars managed to sneak home in a tightly contested affair: 4.2.26 to 2.6.18. The match was played in fantastic spirits and was only hampered when our brand new Sherrin was kicked over the fence and into the lap of a passing motorcyclist. Instantly the honking started as the offender roared off into the distance. For sure he loved the footy.

Clark Keating attempts to break away from over-the-shoulder Growds. Sam Gilbert in background and Patrick Stringer is the ump at the hallowed Dead Cat Stadium. The other Swannie is Ed Smith?

It was an unbelievably great evening which kicked on at the Australian Embassy. Click for photos of the match and the Embassy function.

Rob Dickson took a lot of footage for Channel 9 which was to be included in a segment for the first Footy Show of the 2007 Season. Alas, we were bumped by the breaking story of Ben Cousins’ struggle with drugs.

The tour leader on that occasion was Marty Sharples who played in the Swannies first ever Asian Champs campaign in 2007 (and helped found the Lao Elephants).

Clearly, with the Swannies in Vietnam, if you’re an AFL star, you can ride but you can’t hide.

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