The Cambodian Eagles will take on the Jakarta Bintangs on Saturday as the home side play host to their first ANZAC Day Aussie Rules football game at the Navy Sports Ground with an 11am kick-off.
An ANZAC Day game is in itself a celebration of sorts as it marks a national day of remembrance in both Australia and New Zealand since 1921. It broadly commemorates all Australians and Kiwis who served and died in wars, conflicts and peace-keeping operations.
It also symbolises the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. So for the Eagles, the game holds special significance with a touch of sentimentality attached.
The Eagles are approaching this tough Bintangs test on the back of a 50-point victory over the visiting Singapore Wombats three weeks ago, fully aware of the Jakarta side’s fantastic start to the year and their recent demolition of the Vietnam Swans on their own home turf in Saigon. From the Bintangs perspective this was indeed a stellar feat.
However, Eagles coach Grant Fitzgerald noted his team were improving as the year goes on.
“We now have a consistent line-up and the hard training is starting to pay off,” he told the Post yesterday.
New recruits Will “The Beaver” Fletcher, Ritchie “Thin Man” Munro and Jehan “Vijay” Kanagasingham have added a good amount of depth to the side and an extra bit of run.
The recent retirement of Gavin “Barrels” Murphy will hit the Eagles hard as the side will be deprived of his brave “zoning” game style and intimidating pace.
The Eagles have been working hard to get their attacking game style back after losing some key players at the end of last year. Both David “James Bond” Parrot and David “The Danger” Bryce are back to full fitness which will add some size back to the team and likely cause the opposition a few headaches, the Eagles coach noted.
“Wayne “Chips” Burton has also consolidated his place in the team this year, locking down the back pocket and providing some much needed composure down back,” added Fitzgerald.
There will also be some additional motivation for Eagles as this will likely be club legend Trevor “Bagga” Parris’s last game running the bench.
“Trevor is a much loved figure at the club and has basically been the game day general for as long as I can remember. His ability to always be carrying a bag of whatever is needed at the time is quite famous and will be irreplaceable,” said the coach.
“It will also be the last game for one of the most controversial figures in the clubs history Luke ‘Latte’ Griffiths. He will be sorely missed.”
When asked to give his thoughts on running out for the Eagles one last time, Griffiths reportedly told his teammates: “I beat ‘Dancing Dave’ Murphy and that’s more than you have ever done. That’s the Luke spirit.”
The Eagles have an excellent home ground record and are hoping that a big crowd will be out to cheer them on and enjoy the entertainment.
The game will be held at the Eagles’ pet venue, the Navy Sports Ground on Chhroy Changvar peninsular, around 1.4 kilometres after the Cambodia Japanese Friendship bridge. Gates go open at 10am with the kickoff an hour later.