There has always been a strong connection between Australian Football and the armed forces, with ANZAC Day recognised each year by leagues and clubs across the state.
Before we look at what this weekend holds, lets look back at some of the history between Australia’s game and Australia’s troops in Queensland thanks to the crew at Queensland Football Forensics.
For years the league did not play matches on ANZAC Day, presumably as a mark of respect.
The first time the QAFL played a game on ANZAC Day was exactly fifty years ago – 1966. It was at the Gabba and saw Western Districts beat Kedron 11-17 (83) to 7-16 (58). Like 2016, ANZAC Day that year fell on a Monday.
Ten years later, the Gabba had become a small, unusually shaped ground following construction of the surrounding greyhound track, which opened in the early 1970’s.
The ground hadn’t seen premiership action since the 1971 Grand Final.
At the start of the 1976 season there was debate in the football community as to whether fixtures should be played at the venue. Despite the eight clubs having invested heavily in their home grounds, the facilities at the Gabba were unsurpassed.
Following much discussion, the first premiership game at the ground for five years was played there on ANZAC Day of 1976.
Billed in the press as “the return of rules to the Gabba,” Sandgate defeated Coorparoo by a goal. However, it was the only fixture played there for the season. The lack of a genuine headquarters ground was an issue which plagued the League during the 1970s and 80s.
The two grand finalists from 1978, Western Districts and Windsor-Zillmere, took part in the NFL’s Escort Cup competition, featuring in a double header at the Gabba on Anzac Day 1979. Each team lost to their SANFL opponent, South Adelaide and West Torrens, respectively.
CLICK HERE to read the welcome message from QAFL President Norm Crimmins, along with an extract from the Ode of Remembrance, synonymous with ANZAC Day.
This weekend, clubs right around Queensland will be respecting this connection in their own way.
AFL Queensland State Football Operations Manager, Barry Gibson, said he is pleased with the response from clubs.
“It’s fantastic to see so many clubs honouring ANZAC Day, and the ANZAC spirit across the state this weekend, from services and the Last Post, to commemorative jumpers.” Gibson said.
“It’s one of the most important days on our calendar, so it’s really important we adhere to RSL protocols with any event, giving the ANZAC’s the respect they deserve.”
All Queensland clubs participating in games this weekend have been asked to observe a minute’s silence before the game, and wear black arm bands.
Here are just some of the events taking place across this special weekend of footy.
Gold Coast SUNS vs. GIANTS
Saturday April 23, 6:00pm, Tony Ireland Stadium
The Gold Coast SUNS take on the GIANTS this Saturday Night in Townsville, but it won’t be the only game on the day that recognises the ANZAC spirit.
A male and a female Townsville representative side will take on a male and a female Army representative side prior to the NEAFL clash.
Sandgate vs. Wilston Grange
Sunday April 24, 5:30pm, Lemke Rd
Annual ANZAC day game at Lemke Rd will be huge. The Hawks have organised for Tanks on the hill, and will wear a commemorative strip for the day.
Surfers Paradise vs. Labrador
Sunday April 24, 2:00pm, Sir Bruce Small Oval
A full ANZAC service will take place, before a member from the Southport RSL will read the Ode, and the last post will be played
Morningside vs. UQ
Saturday April 23, 2:00pm, Jack Esplen Oval
The last post will be played before the game
Victoria Point vs. Wynnum
Saturday April 23, 2:00pm, Tidbold Park
Playing for the Mal Henderson Medal, awarder to the most courageous player, not just the best player on the ground, but the one who embodies the ANZAC spirit.
Cararra vs. Kedron
Saturday April 23, 2:45pm, Nielsens Road
Anzac Trophy to the winning team, and Best Player medal
QAFA Sunshine Coast
Nambour vs. Maroochydore
Monday April 25, 2:00pm, Jubilee Drive
Early match on ANZAC day before a function for the Collingwood vs. Essendon game
QAFA Northern Rivers
Lismore vs. Ballina
Monday April 25, 2:00pm, Mortimer Oval
ANZAC Day game
By Andrew Wiles