Don't change Anzac Day rivalry: Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Don't change Anzac Day rivalry: Knights

By Roger Vaughan 21/04/2010 07:27:48 PM Comments (0)

Even before Matthew Knights started coaching Essendon two years ago, he felt the Bombers and Collingwood did justice to the AFL's Anzac Day blockbuster.

Essendon and Collingwood have played at the MCG on Anzac Day since 1995 and have turned it into the biggest match of the year outside the finals.

But there are growing calls for the clash to go to other teams, especially given Essendon are rebuilding.

Knights, like his club, is adamant that will not happen.

"It's Essendon-Collingwood, it's great tradition and both clubs have been amazing in celebrating the day and being a part of the day," Knights said.

"You get a packed house ... even when I wasn't with Essendon, it seemed like it just was the way it was and the way it should be.

"We'll be fighting tooth and nail to be always involved on Anzac Day."

St Kilda vice-captain Lenny Hayes said he would love to play at the MCG on Anzac Day, but doubts the Saints will have the chance.

He added that regardless of the venue or opponent, all clubs put an emphasis on the Anzac Day round because of the historical significance.

"To see the crowds they get and the build-up, the experiences the players get out of those games, it's really hard to manufacture that in any other round and it's a real finals-like atmosphere," Hayes said.

"From a selfish point of view I'd love St Kilda to be involved but I think it's going to be pretty hard to knock those two clubs off that day.

"All games this weekend, it's a great round of footy and I know that every team places a big importance on the Anzac Day spirit and playing the game in the spirit that they'd want the game to be played in."

In the lead-up to Anzac Day, Essendon hold one of their Dick Reynolds Club coterie lunches to help mark the day.

The theme of Wednesday's lunch was Fromelles, the horrific 1916 battle in northern France where more than 5000 Australian soldiers became casualties in one day.

It was the first time in World War One that Australian troops had fought on the western front and the Australian War Memorial has called it the worst 24 hours in this country's history.

One of the guest speakers was Lambis Englezos, who has played a key role in a project to find Australian troops who died at Fromelles and were buried in unmarked graves.

Englezos was discussing two Allied commanders considered responsible for the calamity and said, simply: "Bastards".

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