This year will be the 13th ANZAC Commemorative Match for the Thailand Tigers, and sees us welcoming back the team from the inaugural match in 2004 – the Malaysian Warriors. The Warriors were runners-up at last year’s Asian Champs, and have made an impressive start to their year with a narrow 1-goal away loss to Jakarta and an impressive home victory against the Vietnam Swans. This will be the Tigers first game for the year, and we aim to maintain our impressive ANZAC Day record (see past results at the end of this article).
Apart from the love of footy, the ANZAC match is a special event for the Thailand Tigers for many reasons, but none more significant than the attendance at the game of former POWs who worked on the Thai-Burma railway at Kanchanaburi during World War 2. This year we are honoured to have Neil McPherson OAM return for his 12th match (first attended in 2005). Milton ‘Snow’ Fairclough also wanted to attend but isn’t able to travel this year.
For those playing/attending for the first time, it’s worth doing a bit of research into the events at Hellfire Pass during WWII to gain an understanding of what happened up there. A good place to start is listening to Snow on the radio last year:
And Neil usually tells a story about his experience at the 11am service on Anzac Day that’s always worth listening to for those staying for Anzac Day.
For those who have played/attended before, you know that it is hard to put into words the feeling of being involved in the ANAZC match. When several of the Tigers were asked what it meant to them, the following unedited response by Tiger stalwart Dave Rainsford sums it up perfectly:
I want to put a few thoughts into written words about what ANZAC Day means to me and especially when being in such a place like Kanchanaburi. These days it’s a bit surreal to visit Kanchanaburi and to really understand what the ANZAC POWs went through. You can experience the heat, the humidity and the mosquitoes at night. You can visit the railway cutting at Hellfire Pass and visit the graves and war museum in Kanchanaburi. But to understand what really went on there and how humans can treat each other in such a way is just unfathomable. You feel a dreadful sense that something went seriously wrong here, but it’s hard to put it into context when everything is so relaxed living in a tropical and exotic country like Thailand.
Hearing a radio interview with Snow Fairclough about the atrocities handed out to the ANZACs and the mateship that kept the survivors alive is all the more real when you think, “I met that bloke last year at Kanchanaburi and shook his hand after the match.” That to me brings the reality and the spirit of ANZAC alive. That to me is what we commemorate and why we play a football match in the stinking heat of the Thai summer. It’s nothing compared with what the Diggers put up with, but it shows that mateship lives on and I hope that my son, who will be watching the game, will get his chance in the future to play in such a match out of respect and honour for the blokes who gave up so much for future generations.
Lest we forget…
This years match will be held on Saturday 23rd April, at Visuttharangsi School in Kanchanaburi. Auskick will be run from 11.30am, with the match between Thailand Tigers and Malaysian Warriors kicking off at 1.00pm. There will be food and catering at the ground, and entry is free.
For more information, please visit the Thailand Tigers website http://thailand-tigers.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a list of past ANZAC Day results:
2004 Thailand Tigers 13.6 def Malaysia Warriors 5.4
2005 Bedfords Blues 10.7 def Hendersons Reds 10.3
2006 Thailand Tigers 9.7 drew with Hong Kong Dragons 8.13
2007 Bali Geckos 9.6 def Thailand Tigers 3.5
2008 Thailand Tigers 13.15 def Jakarta Bintangs 7.8
2009 Thailand Tigers 13.13 def Vietnam Swans 2.2
2010 Thailand Tigers 6.10 def Laos Elephants 6.7
2011 Thailand Tigers 11.5 def China Reds 6.6
2012 Thailand Tigers 9.7 def Cambodia Eagles 8.8
2013 Tigers Blues 14.8.92 def Tigers Gold 8.9.57
2014 Thailand Tigers 18.15.123 def. Pakistan Markhors 3.0.18
2015 Thailand Tigers 22.11.143 def. Myanmar Fighting Cocks: 2.1.13