Editorial: Lest we forget

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By Michael Sholly

This Anzac Day long weekend is a time to remember those who tragically passed away in war defending the rights of Australians.  Last year we focussed on the two VAFA recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest individual honour bestowed on a soldier. The heroic stories of Captain Robert (Bob) Cuthbert Grieve (Collegians) and Flight Lieutenant William (Bill) Ellis Newton (Old Melburnians) go into depth on the VAFA website.

Two VAFA matches will be played on Anzac Day, Monday. St Bedes/Mentone Tigers host Old Scotch in an Anzac Day traditional clash. This match is able to be reintroduced this season as both are reunited in the same section. On the other side of town Fitzroy will host AJAX at the Brunswick St Oval. Two opportunities for independent VAFA supporters to spend a relaxing holiday afternoon watching some great football without the stresses of their team playing.  

Whilst not actually participating on Anzac Day, many clubs will still be conducting service to honour the Anzacs, predominantly during the interval between the reserves and the seniors.

As we remember these heroic deeds of great Australian soldiers it is with great sadness the football community in Melbourne was devastated to lose a young Australian in a cowardly act last weekend. On behalf of the VAFA community I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Cronin family on the tragic passing of their son Patrick.

Patrick played his junior football with Research FC and then progressed to their senior affiliate Lower Plenty FC in the Northern Football League. Whilst his team were defeated by West Preston- Lakeside he was celebrating playing his first senior football match with his brother Lucas.  A large brawl broke out at a hotel in Diamond Creek and Patrick was punched from behind when coming to the aid of a friend caught in the crossfire.

Patrick never regained consciousness and his life support system was turned off on Monday. All of Patrick’s organ’s, except for his heart, have been donated.

The VAFA community suffered from an event when James Macready-Bryan was celebrating his 20th birthday with his Old Carey teammates. An act of senseless violence left James permanently disabled.

The James Macready-Bryan Foundation was set up in February 2007 with these main aims:

  • To provide financial support for care and rehabilitation, not only for James, but also for other young sufferers of an acquired brain injury.
  • To give a public voice to those young people, who all too often literally cannot speak for themselves.
  • To improve the shortfalls in the medical, financial, political and social service systems, in which young lives are saved but not adequately supported.

The VAFA endeavours to promote a safe and family friendly environment to play, and watch football.  All of our clubs are supportive of the non-consumption of alcohol at our games, our strict zero tolerance of poor behaviour directed at umpires and our send-off audible obscenity rule.  These are all enforceable whilst under the strict supervision of our officials and clubs. Unfortunately, it is generally when the players are out in large numbers, without the control of our clubs that problems arise.

The VAFA and our clubs must continue to drive the messages to our players and supporters that one punch can kill.