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Football tribute watch by fallen soldier’s parents

By April 7, 2015News

IT’S ironic a Cameron Baird tribute now sits on a hill overlooking Burnie’s West Park Oval, says father Doug.

The memorial plinth of the Victoria Cross recipient lays close to the ground Mr Baird called home with the Cooee Football Club more than three decades ago.

Mr Baird played 130 games with the Bulldogs, winning two premierships and one state title.

Yesterday, he returned to the ground, this time watching Burnie Dockers and Devonport Magpies’ players honour his son’s legacy in commemorative football match.

He and wife Kaye were on the North-West attending the unveiling of their son’s memorial plinth at Burnie Park on Tuesday, and spoke of his life at a dinner held later that evening.

The 100th Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Baird died in Afghanistan in June 2013 as he charged an enemy-held building three times to draw fire away from his Australian army comrades.

Mr Baird said the battlefield was his son’s turf, but the football field was a different story.

“It’s probably the one and only time I would be able to say to Cameron ‘look mate I’m equal footing with you, we are not on your battleground today we are on my battleground’,” he said.

“My association with this ground goes back to 1976 when I first played here … so I have a strong affiliation with this particular lump of turf out here.”

Mr Baird said football mirrored the characteristics his son and every soldier showed in the armed forces.

“A game of football has a lot of the characteristics of the thing that Cameron did on the battlefield and that requires some leadership at different times, it requires some extra courage at different times and I think we see that constantly displayed in what our soldiers do,” he said.

A medallion in Corporal Baird’s name was presented to Burnie’s Harry Walters, the Dockers’ most courageous player.

Walters showed teamwork, commitment, leadership and strength, qualities possessed by Corporal Baird.