Navy prepares for AFL curtain raiser

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author)

The Navy AFL team's Able Seaman Clearance Diver Lachlan Whitfield looks for hand ball options during their training session at Fleet Base West sports oval in preparation for the annual Sydney II Memorial AFL Match against the Air Force. (photo: ABIS Julianne Cropley)
The Navy AFL team's Able Seaman Clearance Diver Lachlan Whitfield looks for hand ball options during their training session at Fleet Base West sports oval in preparation for the annual Sydney II Memorial AFL Match against the Air Force.

Personnel from HMAS Stirling have been training hard recently - not for a deployment, but an Aussie Rules Football game.

AFL teams, the West Coast Eagles and Sydney Swans compete annually for the HMAS Sydney (II) Memorial Trophy, and this year on 26 July, Navy will provide a team to play the Royal Australian Air Force in a curtain raiser.

This is the fourth iteration, and honours the 645 officers and sailors who were lost when Sydney (II) was sunk by German Raider Kormoran off the coast of Western Australia in November 1941.

Navy Coach Petty Officer Physical Trainer Alex Leahy said he was expecting a hard-fought affair between the services.

“We’ve been training for a few weeks now and the team is very much aware of the significance of this event,” he said.

“Not only are we honouring the memories of the Navy personnel who served in Sydney (II) but also the four members of the ship’s company who belonged to the Air Force.”

The wreck of Sydney (II) was located 112 nautical miles west of Shark Bay, about 800 km north of Perth, in 2008.