ANZAC Day is one of football’s biggest days, but some of those participating believe the game remains a secondary event, with recognition of servicemen and women the primary focus.
On Friday, Collingwood and Essendon play their 20th Anzac Day match at the MCG, followed by the St Kilda-Brisbane Lions match from Wellington, New Zealand. The Anzac Day triple-header concludes with Fremantle facing North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Each game will be preceded by a moving tribute those who have served, including the 155 League players killed while serving or as a result of war service. This year, both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems will be played.
A pre-game motorcade at the MCG will recognise current and former servicemen and women, including those who served in World War II, Korea, Malaya/Borneo and Vietnam.
"We feel privileged to play on such a significant day in Australia's history," interim Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell told AFL.com.au.
Collingwood CEO Gary Pert said it was pleasing football had played a role in helping raise awareness of Anzac Day, particularly among younger people.
"The (Magpies-Bombers) Anzac Day clash was created (in 1995) as a platform to fit into the existing schedule of remembrance and commemoration that was being paid to the men and women who had served for our country," Pert said.
"To a lot of people, their connection point would be standing there in the crowd surrounded by 90,000 people. There's the minute silence, and they've heard and read all this information about past wars and the people that represented and sacrificed for our country," he said.
"The game and the publicity around it have provided a great opportunity for education. Football has definitely shone a light onto the day, so all generations can be connected with the past.”