STIRRING: Essendon run onto the MCG on Anzac Day last year. Picture: Wayne TaylorCARLTON coach Mick Malthouse wants every AFL player to have the chance to play on Anzac Day.
Malthouse will be involved in an Anzac Day clash this year for the first time since 2011, when St Kilda host the Blues in Wellington.
It will be the third time the Saints have played in New Zealand to mark the day.
Malthouse coached Collingwood from 2000-11 and was a staunch supporter of the Magpies’ annual match against Essendon at the MCG, the biggest game outside the finals.
Saints coach Alan Richardson played for the Magpies in the first Anzac Day match 20 years ago.
Anzac Day is on a Saturday this year and the AFL has scheduled five matches to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
But most AFL players go through their careers without playing on the day.
“The disappointing thing with football, and this will cause a little bit of controversy, is that Alan has played in it, I’ve coached in it and played on Anzac Day – it was a fluke of nature, way back,” he said.
“But not every player will have that opportunity.
“It is the grandest day in Australian history. It is a great opportunity to experience that feeling when you play or coach or be part of it. It should never be regarded as just a right . . . it’s a real privilege.”
Speaking at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on Thursday, Malthouse also hoped the St Kilda-Carlton game could become an annual Anzac Day fixture.
The two clubs will honour St Kilda player Claude Crowl and Carlton’s Fen McDonald.
The pair made their VFL debuts in the same 1911 match and were both understood to have died in the initial April 25 landing at Gallipoli.
“It’s quite incredible and humbling to think that 100 years ago to the day when we play our game in NZ, those two young men and many others were killed at Gallipoli,” Richardson said.
“They were just 22 and 23 years of age, which is the average age of an AFL player.”
Malthouse has always tried to make his players more aware of the significance of Anzac Day. AAP