Anzac Day clash not just another game for Vietnam vet

FOUR decades have passed and a lifetime of memories ensued since Ron Greagen served in the Vietnam War.

Vietnam veteran and Cobden Football Netball Club trainer Ron Greagen.

Vietnam veteran and Cobden Football Netball Club trainer Ron Greagen.

The father of three and grandfather of five has built a life in Cobden with his wife of 37 years Cheryl.

He hasn’t returned to Vietnam since he served in 1971 as a fresh-faced country lad.

Greagen, 65, was called up for National Service at 20 and trained with the 4th Battalion RAR before shipping out for a six-month overseas stint.

He doesn’t have any regrets and remembers fondly the mateship, but is only now contemplating a trip back to Vietnam.

“I’ve never been back. I am looking at a reunion next year for the centenary of Anzac,” he said.

“I am tossing up between Gallipoli and Vietnam.

“I haven’t been ready to go back to Vietnam. It is a personal trip.”

Greagen said there was a strong camaraderie between soldiers who served in Vietnam.

He said reunions had become popular in the past 10 years, as had yearly gatherings in Lakes Entrance to commemorate the Battle of Nui Li in September, 1971. 

Greagen was born and bred in Cobden — “I almost have local status” — and played football for the Bombers in his younger days.

He’s still heavily involved with the club as its netball trainer and number one ticket-holder. 

Today, after leading a 1st Cobden Scouts Anzac Day service at 11am, he’ll scoot down to Cobden Recreation Reserve for the night match between his Bombers and rival Camperdown.

“Because it’s the heritage game on Anzac Day, they have asked me to flip the coin for the footy,” he said. 

Camperdown coach Dan Casey was forced to make three changes for the round three match with Aaron Davis (knee), Luke Cardinal (calf) and Matt Field (quad) all injured.

Luke Clarke will play his first game of the season, while Eddie Lucas and Jake Dowell were recalled from the reserves.

Casey said it was another challenge for the winless Pies, who were brave in losses to top five tips North Warrnambool Eagles and Warrnambool.

“We’re pretty even,” he said of the match up against Cobden.

“Cobden are pretty physical tackle-wise and at the ball.

“With (Paul) Hinkley and Chris Paatsch up forward, we have to be wary of them.

“Our backmen will have to be on the ball again.”

Cobden coach Stephen Hammond said Hinkley would provide the Bombers with a strong focal point in attack.

“He kicked five goals in the first game and two the last time and then we moved him back,” he said.

“It will be good to settle him in the goal square and see what he will do.”

Both coaches expect dewy conditions to play their part, with the match to start at 7pm.


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