A lot of people don’t realise, but, during the Vietnam War, the diggers had a thriving VFL (Vietnam Football League) competition. It was played predominantly in Vung Tau (site of the Australian Logistics Base) from 1966 to 1971.
Private John Heaney, a “Nasho” from 1 Transport Platoon RAASC, was the man to start it all in 1966. He was in trouble with his Commanding Officer. The CO gave him a couple of choices:
- Organize a game of Aussie Rules Footy; or
- Face detention / other penalties.
John (who now lives outside of Melbourne in Geelong) thought about it for a second and chose the first option! And footy in Vietnam was born.
Since 2010, the Swannies have played an Annual ANZAC Friendship Match (click here for further information)*.
At the end of last year, when song writer, David Morgan, heard about the ANZAC footy tradition, he was so impressed, he started writing. The result was the single, “Forever We Will Run” which was released earlier this year (click here for further information).
Last week, the Vietnam Football League’s historian, Stan Middleton, presented John with a CD at Noble Park RSL, Melbourne. Stan says that John’s “wife is rapt about it! John then went and bought another 5 copies of the CD!” (Click here to preview the song on iTunes).
How good is footy in Asia!
* Footnote. AFL Asia hosts five ANZAC matches on ANZAC Weekend. As well as Vietnam, matches are played in Kanchanaburi, Thailand; Balikpapan, Borneo; Manila, Philippines; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.