Anzac game 'sentimental' for Steel's Francois

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 25/04/2014
southern steel
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POLES APART: Hayley Saunders of the Tactix, left, and Shannon Francois of the Steel compete for the ball.

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Anzac Day is always special for Southern Steel and Silver Ferns midcourter Shannon Francois, but this year will be especially so.

Francois' grandfather Eric Goodwin was a tank gunner in the 18th battallion, or 18th Armoured Regiment, serving in Italy, Egypt and Syria during World War II.

He earned the nickname "Snow" from his army mates because his hair became bleached blonde by the harsh overseas sun.

While Goodwin didn't like to talk about his war experiences, he would sometimes show family his medals, and take them to the RSA every Anzac Day.

"He was quite involved and we would go to the RSA a lot with him," Francois said.

When Goodwin died last year, aged 93, the service was held at the local RSA and included a rendition of The Last Post.

Francois said the thought of world war was hard to fathom in this day and age.

"I would have been extremely scared if I was one of them - young men with families going away and not knowing whether they would be coming home or not. My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who did get to come home and continue to raise his family. We were extremely lucky to have him around and I definitely cherish that."

It will be something Francois will be thinking about today when Steel take on the NSW Swifts in Canberra.

The trans-Tasman league game is being played in the Australian capital for the first time to help commemorate Anzac Day.

"It's definitely going to be something special for me. It's all going to be quite sentimental," Francois said.

Before today's game at AIS Arena, the Ode to the Fallen will be recited, followed by The Last Post by Corporal Luke Glassson.

During halftime, a piper will play the lament Flowers of the Forest and wreaths will be laid by a player from each team at the base of the New Zealand and Australian flags to honour the fallen.

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- Fairfax Media

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