Congratulations to Stan Middleton for receiving the Order of Australia as part of the 2019 Australia Day Honours!

The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent way Australians recognise the achievements and service of their fellow citizens. Stan has been awarded the Medal of the Order (OAM) for his “service to veterans and their families” .

Stan Middleton is a great friend and supporter of the Vietnam Swans. In fact, he was dubbed the “Official Historian of the VFL (Vietnam Football League)” by the Swans and it is a title that has stuck.

Read on for more details of Stan’s contribution to the Swans and Australian veterans. You can also read the full list of OAM recipients at The Australian.

Sharing History and Building Bridges

In the lead up to the Inaugural AFL ANZAC Friendship Match in Vung Tau in 2010, The Vietnam Swans had undertaken an extensive search to find more about the Diggers who’d played in the original Vietnam Football League in the late 60’s. Even with help from the Defence Department, no additional information had been uncovered.

Within two weeks of the game results being released, a gentleman by the name of Stan Middleton posted the following comment on our website:

I served in Vung Tau in 1967-68. A full scale Aussies Rules Competition between (seven) Australian units was conducted (twice a year). The Competition commenced in either 1966 or 1967 and I believe went through to 1971. Our 1968 group has a reunion every two years based around our Aussie Rules Footy team.

We have many footy photos available online.

We initially played all our games where the Greyhound Racing Track is now located.

From this short message, Stan became a treasure trove of photos, stories and connections for the Club. The ANZAC Friendship Match gained a rich history of 44 years and helped the Swans connect with a wide range of stakeholders.

You can read more about the history the Vietnam Football League (1966-1971) at this link or view a longer article authored by Stan here.

Through this process, the players and friends of the Vietnam Swans have gained a far deeper understanding of another time over here in Vietnam when it suffered a period of conflict. The veterans have also gained a far better understanding of modern day Vietnam which enjoys peace and growing prosperity.

Stan has successfully cultivated and encouraged mutual respect in a sensitive area.

Helping Veterans and Ex-Players

Stan, together with his wife, Sinh, has organized many tours for veterans and partners wishing to revisit Vietnam. In fact, Stan will be bringing a group of 40 veterans to this year’s ANZAC Friendship Match!

Stan is now the official historian for the old Vietnam Football League and has been instrumental in the organisation of reunions of old players, and in connecting the current Vietnam Swans to their past.

40 year reunion of 2AOD Vietnam Football League

Stan’s speeches have become an important part of the Swan’s events. The guest speaker’s speech at the McMillan Dinner after the Annual ANZAC Friendship Match played each year in Vietnam are named in his honour. It is called “The Middleton Address”.

Helping The Community

Stan has long supported charity in Vietnam, particularly initiatives to reduce the number of children drowning in Vietnam (in Vietnam, more children die from drowning than road accidents). He was a Director of Water Safety Vietnam, an organisation that now works closely with Swim Vietnam.

Stan is an unassuming man who tirelessly does lots of little things which have a big impact on an ever-increasing number of people.

Stan, from all of us at the Vietnam Swans, congratulations on your award!