AFL ANZAC Day Umpire reflects on MCG and ANZAC Friendship Match in Vietnam
Posted by Vietnam Swans on April 24, 2012
Adam McDonald umpired 200 AFL games, including two ANZAC Day clashes between Collingwood and Essendon as a boundary umpire.
Last Saturday, we were lucky enough to have him as our field umpire for the 2012 ANZAC Friendship Match at the former Lord Mayor’s Oval in Vung Tau, Vietnam.
On the eve of tomorrow’s Collingwood-Essendon ANZAC Day blockbuster, Adam reflects upon his experience at both the MCG and the Vung Tau Greyhound Racing Track that was known as the Lord Mayor’s Oval by the Diggers who played in the Vietnam Football League from 1966-71.
The role of AFL football being played on ANZAC Day is one that causes much discussion with many people. ANZAC day, for me, is the most special day in the Australian calendar. It is one where we stop to remember and say “Thanks” to all the men and women, and the sacrifice they made and continue to make, with current armed forces all over the world. I find it interesting that most of the debate comes from outside of Melbourne. In Melbourne the day, the game between Essendon and Collingwood, gel together to ensure the legacy is not forgotten. Melbourne embraced the concept and is very proud and privileged to host such an event. For this concept to go national and international is just fantastic.
When the game was first initiated in 1995, ANZAC Day was losing its profile. The match on a public holiday helped profile the event and ensure there was a way that people could say thanks. I attended the first game as a spectator; the game was a draw to add to the drama and was attended by a near capacity crowd. The energy created was enormous.
I was lucky enough to umpire two ANZAC Day games. To stand there in front of 90,000 people during the Last Post and to not have a sound made is remarkable. In the middle of the MCG, all you can hear is the flapping of the Australian flag in the breeze. As I write this, I can still feel the emotion I felt then and still do now. It is one of the most memorable and proud moments of my umpiring career and I know that the players of both sides also feel this way. It holds a standing in a career alongside finals and grand finals.
Perhaps it is best written by Peter Fitzimons, a Sydney journalist and ex-Wallabie. He is a very strong supporter of Rugby and is very vocal about it. He wrote after attending the 2002 ANZAC game that he had:
“Rarely seen something so impressive in the world of sport. As they played the Last Post and the national anthem, the 100,000-strong crowd uttered not a peep, whispered not a murmur. The atmosphere was electric and the general mood in the air, one of reverence for the diggers and anticipation of the game to come… Somewhere, someone has done a superb job organising that landmark day in Australian sport.”
Move ahead to last Saturday and I felt the same pride and privilege to be part of the Vietnam Swans vs China Reds ANZAC Friendship Match. To stand on the site where previous games were played during a conflict was something that I knew I wanted to be part of, even if it was just as an umpire. To see both sides link arms during the minute’s silence and hear them sing with gusto the national anthem fills you with national pride. Both sides then showed a brand of footy to be proud of, hard at it, complete focus on the ball, competitive but played with a spirit that shows the respect they felt for the occasion.
I am very proud to have been a small part of the day and look forward to being part of a few more to come.
- Photos: Sneak preview – click onto Mark Stennett’s .
- ANZAC Friendship Match Report
- The Kev McMillan Dinner and Stan Middleton Address
- Overall reflections of an ANZAC Friendship Weekend