This article was originally published on April 24, 2014.
Anzac Day has always been a significant day for my family.
My Grandma Jean, who passed away a number of years ago, served as a nurse in Darwin and Alice Springs during World War II.
My earliest recollection of Anzac Day was going to my Gran’s house in the morning and eating her homemade Anzac biscuits and watching her and all of the Adelaide nurses she had served with play Bridge.
And boy did they love Bridge!
‘The girls’ as Gran would call them, would all go to the Dawn Service, then head back to her house to catch up, eat sandwiches, biscuits and a variety of cakes.
Gran often claimed to have baked the best tasting cake herself, but everyone knew she had bought it from the bakery around the corner.
Missing that game and watching from the stands made me appreciate the build up, the atmosphere and how much the game actually meant.
It’s that link to Anzac Day that gave our family an appreciation of what Anzac Day is all about.
Fast-forward to 2004 and I was 17 years old when my name got called out by Essendon at the AFL National Draft.
One of the first thoughts that went through my mind was that I may get the opportunity to one day run out onto the MCG on Anzac Day for the biggest home and away game of the year.
I was lucky enough to play in the first four rounds of my first season in 2005, and was hopeful that I’d be a chance for the Anzac Day clash in Round Five.
However, leading up to that game, I got a call from my coach Kevin Sheedy.
A call from Sheeds late in the week is generally not a good sign.
To my disappointment I was told that for such a big game they wanted to bring in a bit more experience and that I was going to miss out.
I was devastated.
But I watched the match from the stands as Essendon went on to win by 14 points and Andy Lovett took home the Anzac Medal.
I think missing that game and watching from the stands made me appreciate the build up, the atmosphere and how much the game actually meant to not only the players, but also to the fans.
I played in the next seven consecutive Anzac Day clashes in my time at Essendon.
Unfortunately I was only ever part of one victory, but I can look back and appreciate how lucky I was to be involved on those special days and how lucky I still am to be involved with the Anzac Day round at Port Adelaide.
Anzac Day isn’t about football, even though it has become an Australian tradition over the years.
Like my Gran taught me, it’s a day where people can get together, enjoy each other’s company, and most importantly, acknowledge and appreciate what others have done before us, so that we are able to live the way we do today.