The first VFL matches played on the 25 April occurred in 1914 exactly 12 months prior to The First Division storming ashore at Gallipoli:
- Geelong drew with Essendon
- Fitzroy defeated Melbourne
- Collingwood drew with Carlton
- South Melbourne defeated University
- St.Kilda defeated Richmond
From 1915-1960 Victorian legislation prohibited the playing of sport on ANZAC day. Only in 1953 and 1959 did 25 April fall on a Saturday within the football season thus requiring a gap in the fixture. By a change in the legislation in 1960 new terms permitted the playing of sport on ANZAC day after 2.00PM.
The first matches played were:
- Fitzroy (19.17) defeated Carlton (19.10) at Brunswick Street
- St.Kilda (5.18) were defeated by Melbourne (10.12) at Junction Oval.
These matches had been part of 1960 Round 2, which was scheduled to be played on April 23 but had to be postponed because of heavy rain the previous two days.
Between 1960 and 2015 there have been 128 Anzac day matches for premiership points.
Since 1995 Essendon and Collingwood have played an annual match whose focus is commemorating Australian serviceman and ANZAC Day. The fixture has become a highlight of the season and a prestige appointment for umpires.
Being appointed to the ANZAC Day game is a prestigious moment in an umpire’s career. It is considered as a finals like appointment because of the significance of the day. It doesn’t matter where the two teams are on the ladder the event brings out the very best in every participant. Darren Goldspink (5), Shane Jansen (5) and David Dixon (4) are the current record holders with the most number of ANZAC Day appointments.
This year’s group sees Rob Haala (4) and Adam Wojcik (2) as the most capped ANZAC Day performers. Scott Jeffery (1) is the only other umpire appointed who has ANZAC Day experience. Rob O’Gorman, Shane Thiele, Matt Tomkins, Damien Cusack and Michael Craig have all been appointed to their first ANZAC Day game.