AFL to honour fallen Anzacs

St Kilda’s match against Carlton in Wellington will commemorate a remarkable AFL coincidence that is also one of World War One’s countless tragedies.

Fen McDonald made his debut for Carlton in round 15 of the 1911 season at Princes Park.

Their opponents were St Kilda, who also featured first-gamer Claude Crowl.

Sadly, their paths would also come together, for the last time, four years later.

It is understood they were killed 104 years ago during the April 25 Gallipoli landing.

The player voted best afield in Saturday’s match will be awarded the Crowl McDonald Medal.

The two teams are also playing for the annual Simpson Henderson Cup.

Most Australians have heard of Simpson and his donkey, Murphy, at Gallipoli.

But very few would know that after Simpson was killed, New Zealander Dick Henderson continued to use Murphy to ferry wounded soldiers to safety.

Henderson also took enormous risks but, unlike Simpson, he survived the war.

Like Simpson, he is a national hero.

Henderson is honoured at Wellington’s Pukeahu National War Memorial, which features the outstanding Great War exhibition.

Famed movie director Sir Peter Jackson is behind the exhibition, which gives a small understanding of the hell soldiers went through on the Western Front.

St Kilda players Jarryn Geary and Josh Bruce were given a special tour of the exhibition on Friday.

“That was a whole new level in terms of interaction and putting you in the scene of being in there – it’s a remarkable set-up,” Geary said.

This is the third year St Kilda will host an AFL match in Wellington on Anzac Day.

Saints chief executive Matt Finnis said commemorating the day overseas made it particularly poignant.

“It was really noticeable last year, attending the dawn service in Wellington, how much they incorporate the partnership between Australia and New Zealand in their ceremonies – perhaps more so than we do (in Australia),” Finnis said.

“For us to be able to commemorate the centenary of Anzac in New Zealand, it’s a really special opportunity.”

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