Anzac Day 2012

In 2008 I went to my first Anzac day game with my mother. We were beaten by the Pies. It was the last footy game mum was able to attend. On the way back to catch the train she was short of breath. Later, I would realise, that was the first sign her health was starting to go downhill.

Two years ago on Anzac day mum passed away late in the afternoon. By then she was beyond knowing we were thrashed again.

Today I can’t help but think of my mother and her lifelong love of footy.

When dad stopped playing mum still went to the footy. She had daughters to take to netball but enjoyed the footy just as much. In particular she enjoyed watching the progress of young players and the late bloomers.

Mum was a James Hird fan.  His grandfather coached dad in the reserves at Essendon way back in1950.  Naturally, mum was a lifelong Essendon supporter.

When Essendon played day games at the MCG mum would drive from Echuca to Bendigo and catch the train down. Her favourite matches were the Essendon- Richmond games. On one occasion when we attended a Dreamtime game together I recall her patience on the trip back. Sitting opposite an inebriated  Richmond fan who was going all the way  to Swan Hill, mum smiled and acknowledged politely each time he garbled an inane utterance.  When  scuffles broke out  in the aisles of the carriage, she sat there unfussed by it all. I admired her and hoped that one day I would mellow with age. It was a relief to get off the train at Bendigo.

This morning I’ve picked a sprig of rosemary and placed it in water in the kitchen.

I switch on the TV and watch the Anzac march as I potter around doing the chores.  The commentary provides a fascinating history lesson.

People come together, to acknowledge, reflect and pay tribute to the sacrifices and resilience of those who have served us.

Then we embrace what we love.

Today, for many, it’s a game of football.

When the war veterans enter the  MCG arena I’m thrilled to see my footy friend Bomber Kevin’s dad in the first car. It’s hard to imagine what being a prisoner of war must have been like. Kevin has told me about his father’s inspiring  attitude and his enormous will to live.

The silence of the enormous football crowd during the pre game ceremony at the MCG is stunning. A shared respect broken by thunderous, tribal barracking. Friendly foes united in passion for a game that is proudly Australian.

The weather is bleak outside. With the fire going, it’s one of those warm, cosy indoor days. Perfect for watching football.

Both teams have come off a four day break so I am intrigued to see what effect this might have. Collingwood  have the upper hand in the first half and lead by two goals at half time. The Bombers don’t have enough marking power in the forward line, but don’t give up and manage to hang in there.

After half time the intensity of the game doesn’t seem to drop off at all. Attacking and winning the ball is the only mission on the minds of both teams Any score will be a bonus. Two tired teams slogging their guts out. It’s footy at its best. Neither are prepared to give an inch. Dane Swan is the man for the Pies. He breaks through at the right time and keeps them in front .

The Pies maintain their two goal margin at three quarter time.

Essendon have stayed in touch all day but can’t escape the stranglehold of Collingwood. But it’s never over until it’s over. After being 18points down  Essendon score three goals in a row .

The last five minutes of the game is as good as it gets for footy fans. A goal from Alwyn Davey levels the scores. A Stanton snap puts the Bombers in front for the first time all day. They sniff victory but Blair’s reply with a minute and a half to go seals it for the Pies. They win by a point.

Collingwood 11.14-80

Essendon      11.13-79

What a thriller.

Despite the Bombers losing by a point I don’t feel devastated. Just happy to have witnessed a fantastic game of football and to see the Bombers never give up.

I reflect on a game well played, sacrifices and friendships, and lives well lived.

Pamela Sherpa



  1. I have mixed feelings on Anzac day Pamela but yesterday it dawned on me that Anzac day is Father’s Day to me for it is on the 25th of April I am closest to him.

  2. Alovesupreme says

    I loved your thoughtful blend of family, football and remembrance, Pamela. Your allusions to your mother’s devotion to the game and her team were particularly moving. Her benign attitude to the (potentially) awkward Richmond fan reminds me powerfully of my own mother. She maintained that she’d never heard any-one swear at the football, and loved the game with a passion, although much of the light in her life was lost when Fitzroy went to the slaughter-house (at least according to her perspective).

    Footy Almanac demonstrates the powerful unifying source that is our game, as much in our disputes and arguments as in our appreciation of the glorious spectacle. I regularly give thanks for the fact that I was born in Victoria, and so came to the game as a child.

  3. Nice story mum :-)

Leave a Comment