Replacement football shield handed over on ANZAC Day

Western District Football Club president Tony Nolan with Ian Boxer, premiership captain Josh Graham and the shield.
Western District Football Club president Tony Nolan with Ian Boxer, premiership captain Josh Graham and the shield.
NEW SHIELD: Josh Graham, 2019 Western Districts captain, holds aloft the WR Boxer Shield with Ian Boxer, who donated the replacement shield. Photos: Maggie's Photography

NEW SHIELD: Josh Graham, 2019 Western Districts captain, holds aloft the WR Boxer Shield with Ian Boxer, who donated the replacement shield. Photos: Maggie's Photography

It's not often you get to hold the shield aloft twice.

Captain of the 2019 premiers Western Districts, Josh Graham did just that after the replacement WR Boxer Shield was handed over at the ANZAC Day game on Sunday.

The day after...

The Island's A grade football shield was among the many priceless trophies and memorabilia destroyed in the Wonks clubrooms when the firestorm swept over on January 3, 2020.

KI Football League assistant secretary Peter Foster organised the replacement.

The Boxer family again donated a new shield, which was designed by local KI artist Dave Clark with Evright Trophies of Adelaide making available their resources and time to the project.

Western District Football Club president Tony Nolan said the replacement was a faithful replica of the lost trophy.

Some of the original silver medallions and name plates he personally collected from the wreckage the next day were polished and reused.

"We tried to salvage of what we could of this important Island history and thanks to the Boxer family, the Shield lives again," he said.

2021 ANZAC Day on Kangaroo Island

Letter from the local member, Leon Bignell:

I don't think there could have been a footy game anywhere in Australia or New Zealand on the weekend that could more adequately have embraced and embodied the ANZAC spirit than this clash on KI.

It was the first weekend of senior football on the island since the grand final in mid-September 2019. That's 19 months of no footy. It has been 16 months since the deadly bushfires destroyed half of KI including the clubrooms of the mighty Western Districts Football Club.

On Sunday, men and women of the 1st Armoured Regiment returned to the island to catch up with islanders they helped and to form an honour guard with players from WDFC and Kingscote for the pre-match ode, Last Post and minute's silence.

The best afield on ANZAC Day on KI receives the Jamie Larcombe Medal, named in honour of local hero Jamie who was killed in Afghanistan on February 19, 2011 aged just 21 years old. Jamie was a proud Wonks player who was a key member of their 2000 Colts premiership team.

The young soldier's three sisters, Annmarie, Emily and April presented the medal to two players. One from Wonks and the other from the Hounds of Kingscote.

As reigning KIFL Premiers from the 2019 season, Western Districts was also presented with the newly minted perpetual "Boxer Shield" by the Boxer family.

The original Boxer shield, that had passed from club to club after each winning grand final performance was destroyed in the bushfires along with all the club's trophies, photographs and memorabilia.

Last year COVID quashed the Kangaroo Island footy season and players and supporters stayed home on their farms and rebuilt fences, sheds and their flocks.

Today was a special day. The return of footy to an island that has one of the highest sporting participation rates in the world meant a lot to a lot of people.

You could feel it. The oval was surrounded by cars. Two-deep most the way round. The overflow vehicles parked out on the Playford Highway just a few kilometres up the road from where Dick and Clayton Lang were killed by the fires in January last year.

It wasn't just the presence of the wonderful men and women from the Army that added the ANZAC feel to today's game. It was the fighting spirit of these amazing islanders who have endured so much.

Many are descendants of Soldier-settlers who came to Kangaroo Island after World War II to clear the land on the red dirt of central KI and to establish farms and the township of Parndana. It was hard yakka and took determination and fortitude for people to survive let alone thrive.

As the footy finished a community concert kicked off and the players and fans all hung around to have a feed and a drink under the moonlight ... because the new clubrooms are a long way off being re-built.

Tremendous local musical talent performed song after beautiful song. But it was Redgum's lead singer John Schumann who put the icing on the ANZAC Day cake when he sang the Vietnam War classic I was Only 19.

I'm sure other sporting contests around the nation honoured the ANZACs. But I'd find it hard to believe anyone could match the omnipresent fighting spirit that filled the air on the western end.

Well done Wonks and the wider KI community. It was an honour to be there to witness a contest that was so much more than a game of footy. Lest We Forget.

Leon Bignell MP, Member for Mawson

This story A shield reborn from fire first appeared on The Islander.

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