Vietnam Swans

Australian Rules Football In Vietnam!

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Archive for May, 2014

Check out the Ladies Saigon Gaels new playing kit complete with the Vietnam Swans Logo

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 21, 2014

Along with the logos of all the Swans major sponsors.

2014 has seen the beginning of a partnership between the Vietnam Swans and the newly formed Sagion Ladies Gaels.  The girls have shown off their AFL skills a few times this year including our first ever mixed rules game on Australia Day, joining the boys for the annual bootcamp in Vung Tau and wowing the crowd with some impressive skills at the ANZAC weekend. However, this weekend will see the Gaels compete in their first international tournament with the South East Asian Games in Hanoi – Good luck girls, wear the Swans (& Gaels) logo with pride and bring home a win.

Also best of luck to all the Swannies boys who are also picking up a round ball for the male Gaels this weekend……get some good run in before we head to Manila!

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Swannies gear up for 8-team 2014 Manila Cup

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 21, 2014

The Manila Cup, 31 May 2014. Go you Swannies!

The Hong Kong Dragons have just confirmed that they will field two teams at the Manila Cup on 31 May.

This will bring the total number of teams to eight – and give us two pools of 4 teams.

As well as the Dragons’ two teams, there will also be the following 6 teams: Malaysian Warriors, Singapore Wombats, Microsourcing Barbarians, Vietnam Swans, Philippine Eagles and Alabang Crows.

Go you Swannies!

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A reflection on the Swannies’ past three weeks

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 21, 2014

At least 20 Swannies caught up in Melbourne last Sunday to remember Nick Shiells.

Former National President, Phil Johns, reflects on the how the Club has managed the passing of Nick Shiells.

It’s been a crazy and surreal three weeks for everyone since the terrible news about Nick’s passing became known on 30 April.

While the Swannies did not have the power to change what had happened, we did have the power to offer support and help with logistics for Nick’s family, friends and each other in Saigon.

The Swannies’ effort was led magnificently by our new President, Josh Lee, who assumed the position just three months earlier back in January.

In Melbourne, the Swannies were also well represented in club colours at Nick’s Memorial Service held last Friday.

Again, the Swannies came out in force last Sunday in Melbourne to remember Nick; to share stories and to better process the pain and learnings associated with Nick’s passing.

At a time like this, in dreadful circumstances, I have felt so lucky and proud to be associated with this Club. When things matter most, the Club is there with such a strong presence.

At a time like this, it is inevitable that the momentous significance of the occasion dwarfs and trivialises what we do best: play footy.

But the irony is that playing footy continues to be the most important thing that our Club does. It’s the glue that cements our friendships and sense of community that provides us with unlimited good times, helps us in difficult times and gives us the drive to support multiple good causes.

On Saturday 31 May 2014, the Vietnam Swans will climb back in the saddle to take on seven other teams in the Manila Cup.

As Swannie, Timmay Clements has just said, “We are a week and half out from taking out our first international tournament and it’s time to switch on!”

Go you Swannies!

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Photos of Nick Shiells’ Tribute Match – and others

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 21, 2014

Nick Shiells

The Vietnam Swans held a tribute scratch match for Nicholas Shiells on 10 May 2014 in Saigon.

Nick’s uncle, Brian Shiells, took a number of photos.

These photos, together with a selection of other photos, have been uploaded into a dedicated album on the Swannies’ Facebook page which can be accessed by .

Many thanks to Brian Shiells for the photos.

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MJ’s Tribute to Nicko

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 20, 2014

As Swans Life-member and all round legend MJ couldn’t attended the Funeral Service to Nick Shiells he wrote this touching tribute as a final farewell to his mate.

Nicholas Shiells never did things by halves – He was always full intensity at whatever he was doing.

Nicko and I shared a common background in that we both played for Hawthorn Citizens in Melbourne, albeit a decade apart.  The Citz had probably the smallest ground in Australia, which meant we were usually in a pack rather than running out wide.   His desire to get the ball out of the middle of a pack sometimes resulted in him being pinged for holding the ball as he attempted to shrug off 3 or 4 opponents, resulting in a mixture of groans, sighs and grins from watching team-mates, but it also resulted in some great breakaway moments where he popped free like a champagne cork and had a shot at goal!

When he decided to start his own company, Nicko was known to put in days of work, seemingly without sleep, and then spend a couple of days catching up on sleep – no half measures!

As if that wasn’t enough for one person to handle, he also stuck up his hand for the HCMC Presidency of the Swans, ran a marketing campaign that made sure everyone knew what he would stand for and stepped into the size umpteen boots vacated by Sam Conroy and before that, Derrin Limbrick.

Unable to play on the 2014 ANZAC Friendship Weekend as a result of recent knee surgery, Nicko volunteered to coach the All Stars team in the Magoos against the Legends prior to the main Friendship Match.  When I sent him the team lists, his reply of “OK, awesome.  I’m happy with that – Game On MJ” led me to realise I hadn’t adequately rigged the teams in my favour.

As Nicko triumphantly held aloft the coveted Commonwealth Bank trophy, his beaming face framed the victory speech of “It’s great to be able to inflict MJ’s first coaching loss”: No half measures – Full steam ahead!

Nicko, I’d gladly let you hand me another defeat, but you’d have to earn it again.  You always played with great spirit and lived life to the full.

Cheers, MJ.

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Nick Shiells’ Memorial Service held in Melbourne yesterday

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 17, 2014

Xavier Chapel in Melbourne after the Memorial Service for Nick Shiells.

Yesterday, a memorial service was held for Nicholas Shiells (aliases include – but are not limited to – Nicko, Nikovsky, Shiellsy, Big Balls) at Xavier College in Melbourne.

Approximately 15 Swannies were in attendance to pay our respects to the man who has contributed so much in so many areas in just 30 short years.

RIP NIcko.

Tomorrow (Sunday 18 May), the Swannies will meet at Prince Alfred Hotel, 619 Church Street, Richmond at 1pm for a special drink.

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PDF versions of West Australian newspaper’s article on 2014 ANZAC Friendship Match now available

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 14, 2014

Expats spread the AFL Gospel, reports the West Australian.

On the weekend of 10-11 May 2014, the West Australian newspaper published two articles by Steve Butler on:

  • “Expats spread the AFL Gospel” Demetriou’s dream coming true as Asians embrace our love affair with the Sherrin”
  • “Real tears of joy as Vietnam Football League vet trying to make a difference”

To read the articles in full, please down load the following high resolution pdf files:

  • and 
  • .

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Melbourne Memorial Service for “Shiellsy” in Melbourne: 16 May @3pm

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 12, 2014

Nicko’s friends in Australia have set up a new Facebook page: . It has details of his Memorial Service in Melbourne which will be held at Xavier College on Friday, 16 May at 3pm.

Hello All!

We are having Shiells’ Memorial Service at the Xavier Chapel on Friday May 16th at 3pm.

We will then trot down to the Nevermind Bar to regale each other in stories of his best and worst times, marvel at his rapier wit, be astonished by his pit bull drive and wonder in amazement at how such a fine specimen could have walked amongst us!

Truly one of God’s great prototypes not meant for mass production.

We will all miss you dearly and it will be good to say our goodbyes. But remember: you will never be gone from our hearts and our thoughts!

To Nicholas Shiells!

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“Expats spread the AFL gospel”, writes West Australian newspaper

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 10, 2014

Today’s West Australian newspaper features a story on the Swannies and AFL Asia.


*** High rez pdf articles now available for download. Click onto and  ***

Today’s West Australian newspaper has featured an article on “Expats spread the AFL gospel. Demetriou’s dream coming true as Asians embrace our love affair with the Sherrin”.

The article looks at footy in Asia, the Swannies, the ANZAC Friendship Match, Ron Vernon and the Vietnam Football League and the Vung Tau Orphanage.

The photo of the Vietnam Swans jumpers includes a prominently displayed AFL Asia logo.

High resolution image of the article will be posted asap.

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Eulogy for Nick Shiells by Phil Johns

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 9, 2014

Many of Nicholas Shiells’ family members and friends were not able to attend his funeral this week as the service was held in Vietnam (a memorial service is expected to held at Xavier College, Melbourne, at a date to be confirmed (likely to be in the week beginning 23 May)).

For those not able to attend, this website is trying to obtain copies of the eulogies delivered by Nick’s parents, brother, girlfriend and friends.

Below is the eulogy prepared by close friend and former Vietnam Swans’ National President, Phil Johns.

The mock phone call from God

[Phil pulls his phone out of his pocket to take a call from God. He then says to the congregation...] “It’s God. He says St Peter has seen a bloke with verandah eyebrows, baggy blue shorts and a Wide Eyed Tours t shirt who has just bounced off both pearly gates on his way through. He wants to know if it’s Nicko.”

[Looking skywards, Phil yells out...] “Hey Nicko! Is it you?”

[Phil replies as Nicko with legs spread, arms folded and smiles with a nodding head...] “Yeah!”

[Phil begins addressing the congregation] So, the good news is that Nicko has dished out a “Don’t Argue” to the devil, smashed another exam – this time God’s – and has made it to heaven.

Second lot of good news is that Nicko’s still the same bloke that we knew and loved and laughed with down here.

Liberation Day

To Nick’s family, friends and staff

30 April is celebrated by the Vietnamese as Liberation Day. On Liberation Day this year, we were temporarily incarcerated in a prison of pain as the realization struck that the Spirit of Nick had begun a new and totally unexpected journey.

Today we assemble to remember, to honour, to celebrate, to grieve, to support each other and, in so doing, write the opening paragraph of the next chapter in our own respective lives.

Today, we sit here with Nick’s physical body. And a fine physical specimen he was too. In the resting position, he was immovable – to which he was oblivious. With momentum, he made the rest of us feel like pins facing a smiling bowling ball.

Powering the Body

But what powered that body is what we have all come here to honour today: his spirit, his spark, his discipline, his prodigious intellect, his big picture thinking, his inclusiveness, his insight, his compassion. And they’re the bits that we call gifts because, if we so choose, they can live on – in us all.


Here’s a snap shot of some of the things this multi faceted person was doing:

  • Established Strategic Compliance in December 2011 with the mighty Ms Minh who he described just a couple of weeks ago as “the best in the world”. Strategic has enjoyed great success and now employs 50 staff.
  • His ability to adapt and respond in a “timely manner”. Take for example when Strategic turned up to work one Monday morning and on the other side of his wall they had started driving pylons for an 8 storey building. By the following morning, he had found, secured and set up another office for his staff to walk into! I think the mighty Ms Buddy may also have had a role in that!
  • Set up a myriad of business opportunities in multiple countries with multiple partners
  • While establishing his business, he punched out a couple of Masters degrees
  • Set up an ongoing relationship with the Accounting Club at RMIT University
  • Introduced a program to support Swim Vietnam
  • Actively supported the Loreto Program with a human touch that Trish Franklin described as “scrumptious”.
  • Nick was also Saigon President of the Vietnam Swans.

The Vietnam Swans

The Swans have always been a big part of Nick’s life – on and off the field. Prior to his work commitments becoming extreme, his drive, commitment and focus were legendary. His family were regular visitors from Australia at the time of the ANZAC Friendship Match which he loved. As National President of the Vietnam Swans, I valued his advice and insights. He had a remarkable ability to remove the fog and shades of grey to strip a seemingly complex problem down to its core elements.

Nick was respected across Asia. Two days ago, the Malaysian Warriors, who played in this year’s ANZAC Friendship Match, contacted our President, Josh Lee, to say they were sending a signed club jumper as a mark of respect. It would also be a No. 10 jumper – Nick’s number.

The plaudits and stories we have been hearing this morning and over the past week do not change our understanding of Nick. They simply add richness, colour and detail.

Dealing with the pain of loss

Unquestionably, Nicko crammed a fair bit into his 30 years – but the tragedy is, it shouldn’t even have been half time. And that’s what makes it so difficult for the rest of us to come to terms with.

Nick’s early departure leaves us feeling lost and lonely. We’re in a hole. But, after the initial shock, we need to get back to start writing our next life chapter. To not do so would be to suggest that we are weaker for knowing Nick. Clearly, that is a nonsense. We’re all stronger for knowing Nick.

Just as Nick relocated his office in short time, we each need to use the strength of the Spirit of Nick to haul ourselves out of this hole and, like that 5 year old boy playing his first footy game [in Nick's first ever game, his mother describes how he ran and ran and ran], we can start running again.

The Swannies recently had a song written about the ANZAC Friendship Match, “Footy there’s nothing like it, mates just having fun. Footy there’s nothing like it, forever, forever, forever we will run.”

Nicko, may you Run In Peace.

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URGENT UPDATE! Funeral service for Nick Shiells confirmed for tomorrow 7th of May

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 6, 2014


The funeral service for Nick Shiells has now be confirmed for tomorrow the 7th of May as follows:

10am – 12:00
Three Bells Church
190 Le Van Sy Street. Dist. 3.
Please dress formally (Swans Polo OK)

There will also be a wake conducted tomorrow afternoon at Kevin Hornblower’s house from 5pm. Food and drinks provided.

BP Compound APSC 36
Thao Dien 16 Mimosa An Phu

Apologise for any issues caused due to this postponement and reschedule, we appreciate your understanding.

For further details please call Josh Lee on 0906628189

Please see link to Map of Church:
Nhà thờ Đa Minh phường 10 Phú Nhuận Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

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Nick Shiells’ funeral postponed

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 5, 2014

*** UPDATE: The funeral has now been rescheduled to 7 May 2014. Click here for full details.***

Please be advised that the Vietnamese authorities have requested that Nick’s funeral, scheduled for tomorrow, be postponed.

We thank you for your understanding and patience during this very difficult time for family and friends.

As soon as we can confirm details for the rescheduled date, we shall advise on this website and the Vietnam Swans’ Facebook page.

We thank you again for your understanding and patience.

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