The Lagler Legends vs. Al Fresco’s All Stars game is back for 2018, kicking off at midday this Saturday in Vung Tau! The game is fun curtain-raiser for the Vietnam Swans vs. Thailand Tigers at 2:30pm. Get on down to play a part!

You can find out more about the full weekend of ANZAC memorial activities at our other article here. Don’t forget the McMillan Dinner on Saturday night at the Pullman Hotel!

The Genesis of the Legends and the All Stars

“Trying to get the Commonwealth Bank Cup out of Rowan Luke’s CBA sponsored training bag is like trying to take the bone of a mangy Saigon street dog” according to All Stars skipper Eric Kerrison. “He just won’t let go. But this year we’re going to prise it out.”

The Legends have won the annual All Stars v Legends matches since Rowan took over as playing coach in 2015. Rowan has put together a team of tough, crafty expats led by his skipper Trevor Long, fly-ins from Melton such as Danny Webber, and some talented, pacey local players. It’s been a winning formula.

The All Stars nearly pulled off a major upset last year but atrocious kicking for goal cruelled their chances and they lost by one agonizing point.

“Kerro” believes this year will be different with the All Stars bolstered by some stunning local players who will burn off the older, slower Legends. This pace-to-burn approach will be complemented by the vigour of Kyle Hackenberg and some surprise inclusions.

The All Stars v Legends which is played as a curtain-raiser to the main game is an integral part of the Anzac Friendship match day program.

The RECORD spoke to Legends coach Rowan Luke on the eve of the game, here’s his response:

Hey Rowan, you’ve been known to bring a bit of heat come game day…what can we expect this year?

More of the same!! I tend to get a bit animated when coaching. I am passionate about footy and playing on a special ground and day means a lot to me and those that play. We tend not to be the fittest bunch of footy players with most playing in their prime in the 1990’s so I try to rev up my team as much as I can to get the best out of them. I guess it is just the competitive spirit in me wanting to win.

This year I have a few tricks up my sleeve for Rocket, and although I can’t say too much, expect plenty of “don’t argue’s” and a fairly unique game structure…

The game means a lot to you, tell us a bit about your involvement?

I have been fortunate enough to play in most of the Legends games and have been playing coach since 2015. This follows an illustrious 2 game career with the Swans, although I am better known as the club’s Treasurer for 5 or 6 years.

The game means a lot to me and also to those that play. I think there are a few key reasons for that. Firstly, the game is played in a great spirit. As coaches, both Rocket and myself remind players before the game what the day is all about, friendship, and whilst we all contest the game hard, we expect our teams to play in the spirit of the day.

The game brings people back. A number of our players fly in from different parts of the world each year specifically to play. They come back because it is a special day, a lot of fun and a great way to catch up with mates.

The game has developed in the last few years as a way of bringing on board and developing local talent. Last year we had a number of local players who really brought a lot of excitement to the game and kicked the majority of goals. Hopefully we can continue this in the coming years and bring more local talent into the senior ranks.

There’s plenty of talent around this year. What do you think will win the game? Skills? Fitness? Size? Ticker?

Great question! The game is played in pretty brutal conditions during the middle of the day in the hottest month of the year. To be honest, most of the team are pretty stuffed after about quarter time and tend to run on ticker after then so rotating your bench as much as possible helps. Games have tended to be won or lost in the last quarter as fatigue sets in which is why I save my best rev up speech for 3 qtr time.

I suspect this year may be a bit different with a number of fit and skilled players likely to make their Legends debut. Will the Legends backline hold up? Can the All Stars get the footy out of the middle? All key aspects but I suspect straight kicking will be the key – last year we had 8 shots at goal to 17 and westill won because we kicked straight!

Lagler are prominent in this game but also throughout the Friendship match history. Can you tell us a bit about Lagler’s initiatives to support the Orphanage?

I, along with many of you here today, have been fortunate in having being able to reside here for a number of years as a guest of the Vietnamese people. I believe that with this great opportunity also comes responsibility; responsibility to represent my own country in the best possible manner and to give back to the Vietnamese people who have afforded me this opportunity. To this end, I am proud of the work that the club does in providing support for the Vung Tau Orphanage and Swim Vietnam.

Lagler Australia, a club sponsor headed up by my brother, Cameron has also done an incredible job for the Orphanage. Each year, Cameron raises funds from friends, family, suppliers and clients of his business to provide food, clothing and equipment for the Orphanage. Furthermore, both Lagler and Alfrescos last year also donated funds for each goal kicked in the game.

Can I have a kick? Who is eligible to play?

Absolutely! The game is open to anyone who wants to play. We usually have players register with the club prior to game day but often have people on the day wanting to have a kick as well. If you want to have a kick please come and see me or Rocket.

Scariest moment in a Legends Game?

When you realise you are just about to get tackled by Kyle “The Man Mountain” Hackenberg. In a moment like that you appreciate that there are medical staff on standby…..

Best Goal?

Aside from an outstanding goal from myself a few years back….it would have to be the Viking’s booming 60+ metre goal to get the All Stars over the line in a brutal 4th quarter in 2015. I couldn’t believe it was his first game of footy!!

Danny Webber also kicked an absolute blinder last year from about the same range. I think a few of the Swannies recruiters were keen for Danny to move to Vietnam after that goal!

Best performance in a Legends game?

That is a tough one…A few come to mind. Ex-Sydney Swans player Brad Seymour, playing a blinding fourth quarter in 2016 despite having done his hamstring 30 seconds into the game and not being able to walk. I think he kicked 2 in the last and handed off one to give the Legend’s a come from behind win.

But the best performance has to go to Adam “Stacka” Corrall who kicked 8.1 in 2014. We had a dream forward line that year with Stacka marking and kicking almost everything, Kyle chipped in kicking 2 and me 1. The only disappointing part was Stacka’s behind. He had the footy in the pocket and despite me standing in the goal square by myself, chose to have a shot at goal like all good forwards do. I still remind him to this day that it is ok to handball to your teammate in the goalsquare! His reply……what’s a handball???

Your dream team?

We have had some fantastic players over the years who I would love to see play again. Big Danny Webber and ex-President Josh “Little Head” Lee in the middle with the Melton boys Ocker and Lermy alongside Timmy Pickerts down back. Stacka and Kyle up forward along with the silky smooth skills of Fabbo to kick a few sausage rolls from half forward. I would also play the critical role of bench!!

Final comments?

Just a few. I wanted to thank the club for organizing the game and allowing both myself and Rocket to coach. It takes a lot of effort to put together a day like this and for me it is a real thrill and something I cherish. I would also like to thank the Vietnamese authorities for giving us permission to play each year and to all of our supporters who come out to watch us play. Our match is all about friendship and we hope that you enjoy the day.

May the best team win on the day.

Go Swannies and Legends!!!