The ANZAC Friendship Game curtain raiser, the Commbank Cup, played between the Al Fresco’s All Stars and Lagler Legends, lived up to its pre-game hype with great feats of will, endurance and spirit being displayed by the many legends, newbies, has-beens and Vung Tau misfits that once again gathered for this great Swannie tradition.


The crowd erupted when the 2-metre tall Scandy barrelled a bomb from inside the centre square for a sausage roll with his first ever kick of the Sherrin! As the goal umpie waved 2 flags, the siren sounded to signal a win to the Al Fresco’s All Stars by 14 points.

“It’s the first time I’ve played this game, but I love it!” said Thor after the match.

“At 41, this is my first game of Aussie Rules, but I loved it. I used to play rugby”, said Kiwi Adam, one of the Singapore Wombats support crew, as the siren sounded.

IMG_1359For 4 years, the All Stars versus Legends game has brought together players of various Aussie Rules experience and skills as the curtain raiser to the main ANZAC Friendship Match.

For 4 years, the crowd has been entertained by 40-odd players who stuck up their hands to have a run and be part of the atmosphere that is the Vietnam Swans ANZAC weekend.

For 4 years, the crowd has not been disappointed and been thoroughly entertained. The skills are often great and the determination is never lacking!

For a match that is pulled together from people emailing their names into an unknown couple of wannabe coaches, it’s amazing how close the contests can be when the teams are picked sight unseen.

Credit also goes to the experienced players who brought newcomers, like Nguyen Binh from the Commonwealth Bank, into the game.

5 minutes into the first quarter, MJ thought he’d botched up the team selections again.

Last year he gave Nicko the winning team. This year, he’d handed Rowan’s Lagler Legends a random on a Viet Nam cycling tour (Troy Watchorn) who had just had his 3rd ping at goal for a return of 2 goals 1.

IMG_1369The All Stars were in trouble!

But, under an overcast sky that made playing footy a delight for the LegStars, the tide turned and the All Stars slowly worked their way back into the match.

Each quarter, one team opened up a 2-goal break before the other team evened the score by the end of the term.

Blokes who’d played together, such as Ocker & Lermy or Cameron & Mark from Lagler Flooring, had moments on field when their team play of yesteryear rose like cream once more. A few guys have also now fronted for 2 matches or more, and some promised to bring their sons next year so they can have the thrill of father-son combinations.

This match had everything: Ranting coaches, big bumps followed by people helping up their opponent, sneaky goals, long bombs, questionable coaching strategies and people resting on the bench who couldn’t wait to get back on the ground! During the last 5 minutes when most players have had enough in the Vung Tau Greyhound Track heat, no one wanted to come off.

Photo: Lindsay Nutley

MC Fabbo with Coaches MJ and Rowan lamenting on a great game of footy. Photo: Lindsay Nutley

This isn’t so much a match report as a people report. As coaches, Rowan and MJ couldn’t ask for more. Players listened to instructions, kept it simple and had a go. A few guys had some great suggestions which made coaching easier and everyone respected their opposition.

You can find a list of the champs who pulled on the boots for the Al Fresco’s All Stars and Lagler Legends here:

Thanks to the 3 lads from Singapore who played. The Swans hope this initiative might even lead to an eventual Home Team versus Away Team magoos match.

Special thanks to the goal umps, boundary umps and Saigon Gaels who ran water out to the players all match. Sorry we don’t have your names, but you know who you are!

Umpie Cookie (Graeme Cook) – You were awesome! What more can we say? No reports, no injuries, no donnybrooks, Woodie kept on a tight leash and a close match. Great job mate.

Bring on 2016!