ANZAC DAY – Extract from “A Year in the VFL.”
…Earlier Dave(the senior coach) and I spoke about the use of war stories and metaphors in an ANZAC pre match address and neither of us thought it appropriate for us personally. Dave had visited some of the sites of concentration camps in Europe and I have an interest in military history and don’t see the two, sport and war, in the same sentence. (A friend of mine told me about how his family had visited a camp in Germany and after they left no one could talk for a number of hours). I always liked Boris Becker’s reply after he lost at Wimbeldon ,”It’s just a game it’s not a war.” Having said that, I can appreciate the connection between mateship, war and sport. Brigadier General Lefkie who I met in the US told me that his favourite World War Two story was about a wounded soldier who lay on the battle field surrounded by shelling and gunfire. It was too “hot” for the medics to get to him so he lay there. Out of the smoke and under heavy fire his friend appeared. “I knew you would come for me ,Jim.” Jim, at great personal risk then carried his wounded friend back to their own lines.
I have no objection to others using war stories. I told our reserves coach one which he chose to use with the reserves. The short version is that there is enough evidence that when attacked the more soldiers who stand up and return fire, ’pull the trigger’, the greater the likelihood that the patrol will survive. The more who hit the turf to protect themselves the worse the outcome. When asked, later, why they stood up and pulled the trigger, at great personal risk to themselves most soldiers replied, ”I didn’t want to let my mates down.”For us, under pressure the more players who stand up under that pressure, if only for their teammates, the better off we will all be.
William Mc Inness, Actor & Author, Western Bulldogs supporter (The Age 11/9/10)
“It’s always been a bit of a turnoff for me when people try to make some connection between modern footy and Gallipoli. But my son and I came up with one that put my football team in perspective.
A few years ago we watched Peter Weir’s film “Gallipoli” and my boy was spellbound as Mark Lee ran towards the Turkish positions awaiting his inevitable fate. It came of course but it’s always a shock no matter how many times I see it. The bullets, the sudden jerk of his body as it is thrown into a contorted image of a sprinter’s desperate lunge at the finish, mocking the whole idea of war, as a game of adventure and sport.
My son stared for a while and said, ”Is that it? What was that all about?”
“….So I tried to explain the ending of the film. He nodded and then came back a bit later after having a think. “So he‘s gone through all that movie, with his mates, and then right at the end he’s running and he is almost there and he gets shot.”
I nodded my head with my best father-wise manner.
“Dad, that’s just like the Doggies in September.”
Victoria Cross Winner - Corporal Ben Roberts –Smith
With his team pinned down by machine gun fire, his mates taking fire and some wounded by fragments but continuing to fire anyway to draw the enemies focus on to themselves and away from their mates. One SAS soldier’s gun was jammed and one soldier was under such withering fire from three machine guns that he couldn’t raise his head. Roberts Smith responded:
“ I saw my mates getting ripped up so I decided to move forward. I wasn’t going to sit there and do nothing.”
“I’d have a crack. I wasn’t going to let my mates down.”
“It was just like a football team- you go in as hard as you can until the game is won.”