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Subiaco Post supports Swannies’ proposal for AFL blockbuster on Vietnam Veterans’ Day next year

Posted by Vietnam Swans on July 8, 2012

Austin Robertson of the Subiaco Post backs the Swannies’ proposal for an AFL blockbuster to be scheduled on Vietnam Veterans’ Day next year during the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The Subiaco Post, from Western Australia, published an article on 30 June titled, “Let’s have a blockbuster for Viet Vets”. The article supports a recent proposal of the Vietnam Swans (click here for the Swannies original proposal) to host such an event during the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.

The Subiaco Post’s article was written by Austin Robertson who, last month, visited the Swannies in Saigon and Vung Tau and he also visited the Long Tan Cross.

Austin has forwarded details of the Viet Vets Blockbuster proposal to the Chairman of the AFL, Mike Fitzpatrick.

Below is a full transcript of Austin’s article from the Subiaco Post.

LET’S HAVE A BLOCKBUSTER FOR VIET VETS

Only a few short weeks ago, I was drinking coffee with AFL chairman and el supremo, Mike Fitzpatrick.

I hope I struck a chord with the big fellow and former team mate as I put a few ideas to him of how I reckon the AFL could advance its brand in Asia.

I’m on my second trip to Vietnam, something of a new patch for me, and I’ve struck up a friendship with Phil Johns, chairman of the Vietnam Swans (the Asian version of the Sydney Swans and thus my old mob, South Melbourne) headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City.

It is because of Phil that I think I have landed a blockbuster of an idea on Chairman Mike’s desk.

On August 18, 1966 (bang in the middle of my stint with VFL team South Melbourne) thousands of Diggers fought an ugly battle in a lonely little rubber plantation in Long Tan, 27km as the crow flies from Vung Tau in southern Vietnam.

It was a bloody and regrettable encounter.

Our boys were thoroughly  outnumbered.

The image that appeared on the Swannies website alongside the proposal for the AFL to play a blockbuster on Vietnam Veterans’ Day next year.

Eighteen Diggers lost their lives that day and another 24 were wounded while 245 Viet Cong also died in what was a decisive Australian victory.

I choked a bit when I visited the battle site and believe me, it was worth the trip.

While not on the scale of Gallipoli, Kakoda or the Battle of Kapyong in the Korean War, Long Tan is an epic chapter in our history.

Phil and the Vietnam Swans have proposed – and I passed it on to Mike – having an AFL blockbuster match on Vietnam Veterans’ Day, Sunday 18 August 2013.

Why 2013? Well, it’s the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.

There is still a very strong connection between our Vietnam veterans and AFL greats like Kevin Sheedy and his brother in law, Kenny Earney, VFL umpire Glenn James and the fathers of Nathan Buckley, Glenn Archer and Lenny Hayes.

When he was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame a few weeks back, Chad and Kane Cornes’ dad, Graham Cornes, told of his experiences at Nui Dat.

I believe that the AFL are always on the lookout for a blockbuster match.

Well the Long Tan service on Vietnam Veterans’ Day is held at 3.30pm (4.30pm our (WA) time) which is 6.30pm eastern (states of Australia). The game in Australia could easily be scheduled to include a live telecast of the minute’s silence at Long Tan onto the MCG (or SCG) scoreboard prior to the match.

Building a match around Vietnam Veterans’ Day would give the AFL a point of leverage into other markets like soccer, rugby and rugby league.

And just as the haunting Last Post is played several weeks into the season at the ANZAC Day match, it could be played again several weeks prior to the end of the home and away season.

I believe using Australia’s signature sport to promote occasions of national significance would further consolidate the AFL’s credentials.

Is this a great idea or am I missing something?

So far, all Mike has been able to tell me is that the AFL has yet to decide what its strategy might be about in advancing its promotional thrust into Asia which is precisely where all this started.

What better way could there possibly be than to have a football match honouring our Vietnam Vets in a correct, meaningful and what would certainly be a most emotional way on footy’s biggest stage, the MCG?

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