ANZAC Day and football have always had tight bonds, and commemorative matches and tournaments are a key part of football in Asia. On April 25th, 2015, ANZAC football arrived in Western Japan for the first time, as the Hiroshima Cranes hosted the Tokyo Goannas, Nagoya Redbacks and Osaka Dingoes in what would hopefuly be the first of many such events in this part of Japan. This was a very special occasion, as it marked the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. 2015 was also a special year in the city of Hiroshima as it was the 70th year after the dropping of the nuclear bomb in 1945.
This was one of the most monumental football events ever held in Japan, and the significance of the day was lost on no-one in attendance. The national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and Japan were played, and a few tears were shed as the last post echoed over the dusty arena in Hiroshima. When cermonies were finished however, everyone meant business. Each team played the other once, and the two top teams met in the grand final.
Driven to the ground by an always eager Sho Yamaguchi, the boys from Osaka had met up with the few Nagoya players who made the journey to the land of the seven rivers, to combine once more as the Dingbacks. Osaka also combined with the Nagoya Redbacks in the Japan Cup, competing as the 'Dingbacks'. A magnificent team effort by all players resulted in a win, as the Dingoes won all their matches for the day, eventually defeating the Tokyo Goannas in the grand final. All players battled hard, and it was a fantastic event.
Following the match, players from all teams drove into the center of the city and met up for a few drinks at the Hiroshima Cranes' sponsor bar. Ben Dillon of the Nagoya Redbacks was captain for the day and was very happy to accept the trophy on behalf of our team.Yazid Dardah was proclaimed the man of the tournament for his efforts in the backline, and he was very emotional as he accepted the award. Although they lost the footy, the Tokyo Goannas boys bounced back in the drinking stakes as they took out the best of 5 boat race event, so the score at the end of the day was 1-1. As the night wore on, people faded away, and after checking out the local scenery, the boys made their own way back to Osaka and Nagoya, many quite worse for wear. All teams agreed to play more games in West Japan in 2015.