It’s not very often that the respective personnel from Melville and Hamilton Wanderers football club agree on anything. After all, each club is a proverbial ‘Auld Enemy’ to each other, to be chided ruthlessly and defeated at all costs on the field. Such is the nature of cross-town rivalry. However this week’s forthcoming ANZAC derby between the two teams should be notable for unity off the pitch, with the ANZAC spirit coming to the fore. After discussions with Melville’s Bruce Holloway, we agreed that the match be started with a minute’s silence to signify the 100 year anniversary of Gallipoli before the traditional battle between the two football foes commences.
And it is normally a ripper of game, with above average intensity, and a smattering of yellow and red cards not unknown. Bruce summed up the occasion well in his spiel to his club members:
“Anzac Day is derby day in Waikato football. It’s red versus blue, east versus west, top versus bottom, and good versus, erm, even better as Melville United face Wanderers Sports Club at Porritt Stadium on Saturday April 25. If our Anzac heritage defines a nation, this is the football derby that defines a city as a brave Melville expedition embarks on a campaign to invade Porritt Stadium and wrest control of the northern premier league from the Wanderers Empire. Fierce resistance is expected on the pitch. And there will be casualties.”
Obviously we would welcome as many spectators as possible to this game to enjoy the occasion. The will be no gate charge and even the programmes are free (who said nothing was free in this world?). But there will be donation collection buckets and the sum raised, along with the profit from the Harcourts food caravan, will be donated to the local RSA.
The RSA are promising to bring a handful of vets who will walk out before the game with the two teams. We also have invited any members of both clubs with armed forces connections to join them. The intention is for the teams to march out about 5 minutes earlier than the normal to allow for the minute’s silence, the playing of Last Post, and a reading of the Ode to the Fallen.
It is very appropriate that the game is being played at this stadium, named after Sir Arthur Porritt, Olympic athlete and former NZ Governor General who also had a war connection. On 8 March 1940, Porritt was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He served in France until the evacuation from Dunkirk, then in Egypt, operating on seriously wounded soldiers from the North African campaign, and later landing in Normandy on D-Day. Porritt was so consummately good at everything he attempted. one can imagine that, if he had here for this game, he would be the dashing striker up front knocking in a brace of goals.
We all know football is more important than most things (eh Bill Shankly?) but it may be fair to say that for this weekend, at least before the match, we will reflect on matters perhaps little more solemn.
What: Lest we forget: ANZAC Day is derby day
Who: Hamilton Wanderers, Melville United and you
Where: Porritt Stadium, Hamilton
When: 2:45pm, this Saturday 25 March – ANZAC Day
[Rod de Lisle is first team manager of Hamilton Wanderers Football Club]
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.