Anzac Day is a special occasion to play footy, but the meeting between Tooradin Dalmore and Warragul Industrials held extra significance for Dusties defender Nelson Minichiello.
An ex-serviceman for the Australian Army, Minichiello, 25, lined up for the Dusties and said it was a memorable experience.
“It’s pretty special getting to celebrate Anzac Day with my mates and then play footy,” Minichiello said.
“It’s a pretty special occasion and makes me very proud to play for the Dusties.”
Minichiello grew up in Warragul, playing for the Gulls for five years before relocating to Townsville to join 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks.
While there, Minichiello made 16 appearances for AFL Queensland outfit University Hawks, before returning home and joining his brother at the Dusties last year.
Tooradin Dalmore is no stranger to commemorating Anzac Day, having traditionally played matches against Cranbourne, prior to joining the Alex Scott & Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition this season.
The Seagulls put together a meticulous and respectful pre-match ceremony involving the Dandenong/Cranbourne RSL Sub Branch, Tooradin CFA and Tooradin Primary School.
Other highlights included expert bugling from Kyanne Kerr and a flyover from the Tyabb Warbirds and Minichiello paid tribute to the club’s efforts.
“[The pre-match ceremony] was pretty unreal, being under a flyover was pretty special and you can see Tooradin put in a lot of effort so [I felt] very proud and honoured.”
Minichiello and the Dusties certainly rose to the occasion, providing a spirited contest when many expected the home side to be far more comfortable.
The Seagulls started brightly and led by 27 points at the first change, but the visitors fought back gamely with the only three goals of the second term to go into the main break with renewed vigour.
Tooradin Dalmore responded with two goals to one in the third and while the Dusties once again rallied with the opening three goals of the last, the home side proved too strong and a late goal to Kris Sabbatucci settled the nerves and sealed the points.
It was an impressive effort from the Dusties, who continue to search for a maiden win since their summer shift from the Ellinbank and District Football League, and the performance was acknowledged with onballer Tyson Bale presented with the Anzac Day Medal as best on ground.
“Everyone sort of wrote us off before we even started coming to this new league but we definitely put up a hell of a fight and the boys never game up in the true Anzac spirit I suppose with mateship and it was a good, hard-fought loss,” Minichiello said.
The visitors also had to make do without Minichiello’s younger brother Cooper, who was a late withdrawal following a car crash the day before the game.
The budding centre half-back suffered a cracked sternum and bruising to his legs, but the club is hopeful he wouldn’t be out of action too long.
“Coming down from Townsville I want to play with my brother as much as I can… so hopefully he’ll make a speedy recovery and I can get back to playing with him in the backline,” Minichiello said.