Glenn Nolan is, and always has been a larger-than-life part of the ANZAC Friendship Match.
As owners of Tommy’s Bar 3, Glenn and Trang have been instrumental in planning and running the day since the first game back in 2010, ground hire and preparations, catering, welcoming and recovery sessions and much more. It’s always been a HOOT coming down to Vung Tau and Glenn and Trang are a huge part of that!
On this, the 10th year of the game we caught up with Glenn and, even though he’s moving on from Tommy’s to bigger and better things, he’ll still be a massive part of the Friendship match going forward.
A Leap of Faith: Glenn and the Vietnam Swans
Glenn’s involvement with the Swans came about entirely through the Friendship Match. When the Swans started fishing around Vung Tau about playing a game to celebrate ANZAC Day they were pointed towards Glenn.
Glenn remembers “I knew some guys were playing footy up in Saigon but didn’t actually know any details. To be honest I had no idea what to expect!” At those early stages no-one really knew what would unfold: “Before the game no one really knew what to expect, I just followed up on the questions coming from the boys in Saigon and prepared to welcome them to Vung Tau as best we could. Once the game day arrived though I realised that this was a pretty decent group of blokes and the organization was spot on. From that time on I knew that we could take things further and further and as you can see that has played out.”
Building Bridges and Friendships
The word ‘friendship’ is a key part of the weekend. Based in Vung Tau, Glenn has been able to take the ANZAC Friendship message to new levels. The Battle of Long Tan 50 Year dinner (despite being misconstrued by bureaucrats in consulates) saw ex-enemies sharing stories and celebrating current day freedom. Glenn’s proud of this movement that several Australian vets have been instrumental in. “We’ve been able to make great mates with so many of the former Viet Cong soldiers. There’s a respect there between both sides but also a willingness to forget that past and work on having a better future.”
Glenn recounted one of the most incredible outcomes from this friendship amongst former combatants as that of Rod Herring from Australian Delta Company 4RAR and Mr Thu from the North Vietnamese 33 Regiment. “Rod and Mr Thu discovered at an ANZAC Day event organized by 33 Regiment that during the Battle of Nu Lai, Australia’s last active engagement during the Vietnam war, they were actually shooting directly at each other. Mr Thu bunkered down in bunker complex just North of Binh Ba. The two are now great mates, catching up for a few beers regularly!
Coincidently, Mr Thu is about to head to Perth for this year’s ANZAC Day at the invitation of Ian Stiles, former SAS soldier who did 2 tours of Vietnam. In 2016 Ian and Mr Thu did the Ho Chi Minh trail together – Mr Thu could provide intimate insights on the trail, one he walked on foot at the age of 18 barely surviving on a diet of grass and leaves they could scavenge as they headed South to do battle.”
These are just some of the wonderful stories that have emerged from Glenn and several others engagement in the local community here in Vietnam since the war and there’ll be more to come!
The Vung Tau Community Rallies Around ANZAC Weekend
The growth of the ANZAC Friendship Match hasn’t all been plain sailing though, when asked of the challenges Glenn doesn’t hesitate to point to the preparation of the Long Son Stadium field each year. “No-one would understand the amount of effort it takes to get the field up and ready for each year’s game. Although the dog track hosts the only permanent AFL goal posts in Vietnam, that field is usually only used for soccer games! This time of year (we’re right at the end of the dry season) means that watering and cutting grass for the requirements of footy is hugely time consuming and sometimes impossible if the ground staff don’t agree to help out with the watering.”
And then there’s the mower! “We were lucky enough to have Ray Richardson donate a mower on a cricket tour to Vung Tau several years back. It was a very generous offer after he saw from their cricket game that it could really help in maintaining this field. What no-one predicted was that the mower would become the source of never ending drama. We have blokes helping out and never wanting to get off the thing causing little arguments but more-so in previous years the curse of the mower has meant that it is often needing parts right at the last minute which are unavailable in Vietnam.
Let’s hope 2019 doesn’t see any of these hassles. It should be also noted that ALL the guys who have worked on field preparation over the 10 years are Vets themselves, huge acknowledgement should go to Stephen Nolan, Ron Vernon, Rod Harlor, Brownie and Rob Herring for their big efforts out in the harsh Vung Tau sun.”
Thank You Glenn and Trang
Everyone at the Swans would like to thank Glenn and Trang for their HUGE contribution to making the ANZAC Friendship Match what it is today. No doubt they will be involved for years to come both in the Friendship Match but other Swans events.
One thing is for sure – it will always be a HOOT when they’re involved!