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Clubs to honour the Anzacs

by Tony Webeck

ISC17_News_TonyWebeck_Round8

The poem titled ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ penned by Sapper Bert Beros speaks of the aid given by local villagers when Australian and Japanese troops engaged in combat during World War II along the Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea. (You can read the poem below)

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and given the bonds forged all those years ago, it places an even greater significance on the annual Anzac Day clash between Burleigh and the PNG Hunters.

Since their inclusion in the Intrust Super Cup in 2014, the Hunters have become arguably the biggest drawcard in the competition – but nothing compares to the crowd and the atmosphere that is created when the Hunters come to Pizzey Park and play the Bears for the Kokoda Cup.

The overwhelming sense of mateship and respect permeates its way through the two teams and into the thousands of supporters who gather not just for 80 minutes of rugby league, but to share a moment of reflection.

“I didn't know how big the occasion was for Burleigh and PNG,” Gold Coast Titan Paterika Vaivai, who played in the Anzac Day clash for the first time last year, said about the game.

“They play that game every year and it was awesome to wear the Anzac jersey and feel the environment and to see all the former Army lads come through and give us our pre-game talk.

“Some of the Army boys from Canungra came in and gave us a talk and they told us a couple of stories of boys that put that uniform on and sacrificed their lives just for the cause.

“You can't really let that occasion down. You've got to respect them and respect your opposition.”

Burleigh RSL senior vice president Paul Spooner, president Craig McKenzie, provider Noel Hull, Bears players Tyler Sparkes and Dylan Kelly and vice president Graeme Mowbray and secretary John Beacham.    

Members of the Kokoda Army Barracks at Canungra, west of the Gold Coast, will present the jerseys to both teams prior to the game on Sunday and will present the Anzac Day Award post-game to the player that best represents the Army's core values of courage, initiative, teamwork and respect.

There will be a pre-game tribute to ex-servicemen and women at Pizzey Park on Sunday featuring a parade around the ground, Miami State School singing the Australian national anthem as well as The Ode and The Last Post – but it's not the only Intrust Super Cup game that will honour our Anzacs this weekend.

When requests are submitted to the QRL prior to the release of the draw each year, the number one request of the Townsville Blackhawks is to play at home on the weekend around Anzac Day and this year they host Tweed Heads at Jack Manski Oval on Sunday at 6pm.

“As our city is a garrison city and our name carriers a very chronicled and significant aircraft, we place a major importance on our Anzac game day,” Blackhawks football operations manager Adrian Thomson said.

“We will have a full ceremony prior to kick-off with Defence Force personnel involved and our Community Corner organisation for Sunday is Mates4Mates who provide support to wounded, injured or ill current and ex-serving Defence Force personnel.

“We will play in our camouflage jersey that is specially designed to signify our connection to the Defence Force in our city and we have two Defence Force veterans on our staff who have donated an exceptional trophy and medal that our man of the match will receive as the Anzac Day Medal.”

As is the case for the Burleigh Bears v PNG Hunters clash, entry is free for all Defence Force personnel.

Norths Devils will also have a special pre-game service for their game against the Northern Pride on Sunday with Broncos prop and Devils junior Josh McGuire's father Adam McGuire to lead past and present Defence Force personnel in forming a guard of honour for the players, who will then stand for the playing of The Last Post.

Mr McGuire served in the Australian Army for 29 years before retiring in 2014 with past deployments to the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Afghanistan.

The spirit which our Anzacs displayed in battle is in many ways ingrained in the way rugby league is played and why this weekend will always stand as a significant date on the rugby league calendar.

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels

Many a lad will see his mother
and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy
carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire
or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors
at the bottom of the track
May the mothers of Australia
when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.

                                 - Sapper Bert Beros

Did you know? with Tony Webeck

After an imposing record to start their Intrust Super Cup arrival, the Blackhawks' dominance at their home ground has fallen alarmingly by the wayside. Townsville lost just three of their first 23 games at Jack Manski Oval, but ahead of hosting Tweed Heads on Sunday, have lost three of their past four at home. 

A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.