Rivals pause to pay respects

Olinda Ferny Creek president Mick Hill and Upwey-Tecoma president Craig Waters lay a wreath.

By Taylah Eastwell

If you could catch community spirit, you would have caught it at Olinda Footy Grounds this weekend.

The passion for local sport could be felt in the air as the Bloods hosted the Upwey-Tecoma Tigers for the AFL Outer East season opener on Saturday 24 April.

Eager fans piled in early as cars packed the grounds, spilling out onto the roads of the Hills in order to get a glimpse of the action.

But in the midst of all the loud whistles, cheering and camaraderie, the crowd fell dead silent just on 2pm.

Football and netballers from both sides lined up to pay their respects as members of the Dandeong Ranges RSL, acting Premier James Merlino and Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball Club President Mick Hill delivered an Anzac ceremony.

As The Last Post bellowed through the grounds, players and onlookers bowed their head for a minute silence.

Club presidents Mick Hill and Craig Waters joined together in laying a wreath in memory of the fallen, as did Mr Merlino.

Mr Melino addressed the crowd, congratulating the Dandenong Ranges RSL and the “fierce competitor” clubs for organising the commemorative event.

“Whether it’s a dawn service in the city, in local communities or on local footy and netball courts, it is great to see the community getting together,” Mr Merlino said.

Dandenong Ranges RSL president Bob Richards said the Dandenong Ranges RSL was “delighted to be involved in the inaugural event”.

“I want to applaud the Olinda Ferny Creek and Upwey-Tecoma football netball clubs for this initiative.

“They invited the Dandenong Ranges RSL to be involved and I am very pleased that we were able to do so, it’s turned out to be a wonderful tribute,” Mr Richards said.

Once the commemorations were complete it was game on for the old rivals, with the Bloods finishing up on top at 12-16-88 to the Tigers 6-7-43.

Upwey-Tecoma’s Charlotte Davies was awarded the A-grade netball Anzac medal for best on court and Olinda Ferny Creek’s Nick Keegan took home the senior football medal.