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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    One of the world’s biggest overseas youth tournaments, the Oceania Cup was hosted at Albert Park in the Fijian capital of Suva this past week, with the hometown Fiji Tribe defeating Nauru in the grand final to take home the bragging rights.

    The week began with a lightning football tournament in round-robin format, featuring the teams from Fiji, Vanuatu, and the representative side the Pacific All-Stars. The Vanuatu Volcanoes were the early surprise of the tournament, winning the first two matches convincingly over their Fijian hosts and the All-Stars.

    However, later in the afternoon, helped by favorable weather conditions, Fiji avenged their loss to the Volcanoes in Game Five and also scored two wins over the All-Stars.
     
     
    Day Two commenced at Albert Park at 10:30 AM local time, with the Volcanoes and Tribe going head-to-head again, this time in a full-length match. It was a back-and-forth affair in Suva, with a goal within the final minute sealing the deal for Fiji, who won by a score of 4.3.27 to 4.1.25. With momentum on their side, the Tribe then cruised to a shut-out win over the All-Stars, aided by some classy backline play.
     
    The third day of the cup featured a touring Indigenous Australian side, the Flying Boomerangs, who were taking on a representative Oceania team from Vanuatu, Fiji, and Nauru in an exhibition match. Despite the Boomerangs’ great ball skills and athleticism, the Oceania side was quite competitive overall, particularly with tackling and defensive pressure. In the end, the Boomerangs prevailed, 13.6.84 to 2.1.13.
     
    The following day, Vanuatu turned in another outstanding performance, shutting down the All-Stars in a big 47-point win. Meanwhile, Nauru’s squad used their mental toughness and sharp kicking skills to take down both Vanuatu and Fiji, by 22 and 24 points, respectively. This booked a Fiji-vs-Nauru grand final for Friday afternoon.
     
    In the third-place playoff, the Volcanoes sneaked past the Pacific All-Stars once again, winning 2.4.16 to 1.2.8. Enni Billy Taravaki was voted best and fairest for the Volcanoes in the cup.
     
    Meanwhile in the Grand Final, the Fiji Tribe capped off a great tournament with an impressive upset of Nauru, who were looking to take home their third straight Oceania Cup. A disciplined Nauru side battled constantly against an athletic Tribe team, and the game was as exciting as any that had been played all week. Ultimately, Fiji booted two late goals and the defense held strong, taking home the premiership with a 4.6.30 to 2.3.15 victory.
     
    “Nauru was a good team. AFL is their national sport and they really challenged very well pressuring the boys,” remarked Fiji coach Alipate Navuso. “Some of these boys have just started playing AFL this week. For them to come out winners, I am proud of them.”
     
    Day 1 -- Lightning Cup
    Vanuatu Volcanoes 3.4.22, Pacific All-Stars 0.2.2
    Vanuatu Volcanoes 4.2.26, Fiji Tribe 3.5.23
    Fiji Tribe 4.1.25, Pacific All-Stars 0.1.1
    Pacific All-Stars 2.1.13, Vanuatu Volcanoes 0.1.1
    Fiji Tribe 3.2.20, Vanuatu Volcanoes 2.0.12
    Fiji Tribe 1.5.11, Pacific All-Stars 0.3.3
     
    Day 2 -- First Round
    Fiji Tribe 4.3.27, Vanuatu Volcanoes 4.1.25
    Fiji Tribe 5.9.39, Pacific All-Stars 0.0.0
     
    Image Source: Twitter @bendrew02
     
    Day 3 -- Second Round
    Flying Boomerangs 13.6.84, Oceania 2.1.13
     
    Day 4 -- Third Round
    Vanuatu Volcanoes 7.5.47, Pacific All-Stars 0.0.0
    Nauru 6.6.42, Fiji 2.6.18
    Nauru 6.4.40, Vanuatu Volcanoes 2.6.18
     
    Day 4 -- Finals Round
    Fiji Tribe 4.6.30, Nauru 2.3.15
    Vanuatu Volcanoes 2.4.16, Pacific All-Stars 1.2.8 ...

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  • 12/14/17--02:56: Get to know Crow Sally Riley
  • Tash Gunawardana interviewed AFLW player Sally Riley who is the joint vice captain of the Adelaide Crows. Riley was part of the first AFLW premiership in 2017 and is now a one-time premiership player at the Adelaide Crows.

    Which AFL player past and/or current do you model your game on?
    Sam Mitchell and his clean hands, decision making and disposal efficiency as he lacks leg speed similar to myself.

    Who has influenced your footy and sporting career the most?
    My parents have been my biggest influence on my sporting career and involvement in sporting teams. To this day they still encourage me to do what I love and to give everything 100%. Football wise Andrew Hodges has been a coach and mentor of mine for a few years now and he has taught me an unbelievable amount.

    Image Source: Twitter @sallyriley_8

    What is your greatest sporting accomplishment?
    The 2017 season without a doubt. Being drafted, named in the leadership group, playing every game and becoming a premiership player is pretty hard to beat!

    What do you love to do in your spare time?
    Being outdoors and around friends. I enjoy going camping or doing road trips and activities when time permits. I also love going out for breakfast.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image Source: www.afc.com.au

    What do you enjoy most about playing women’s footy?

    I love that footy is a team sport. It makes all the preseason training, Christmas day training and tough choices easier knowing that you are doing it to benefit the team. There is nothing better than going through the highs and the lows with a quality group of people.

    Would you ever consider being traded to a Melbourne based AFLW team so you can play in your home state?
    I would never ask to be traded to another club as the Adelaide Crows is the perfect fit for me and I love the culture and vibe that we have created. They are my family away from Victoria. I am a very loyal person and when I love my team as much as I do right now, I am Adelaide Crows through and through. In saying that though, when my time is up with the Crows (which I will be very sad when this day does come) and if Melbourne clubs are interested then I might consider a move if I felt I had more playing years left in me and a club was a good fit.

    What is your pre-game and post-game routine?
    Pre-game I am normally pretty relaxed and just do my own thing. I eat a big breakfast and depending on when game time is I will have a light meal and/or a snack a few hours before playing. Once at the ground, I do a lot of stretching and mobility and try to touch the ball as much as possible. A weird pre-game superstition is as soon as I put my boots on I put my mouth guard in my left sock so I don’t forget it when we run out.

    Post-game the recovery routine to prepare for the following week starts straight away after the coaches’ address. Protein shake, ice bath, showers, food and an early night.

    What is the best thing about being the joint Vice Captain of the Adelaide Crows?
    It was an absolute honour to be named joint Vice Captain in 2017 and something I was not expecting. The best thing about this was being able to work closely with the other leaders each week and playing a part in setting up the culture and team standards that we wanted to be known for as a playing group. Working closely with Erin, Chelsea, Ange and the coaches also meant I learnt a lot quicker and it also fueled my desire to want to keep improving my day-to-day leadership as a player, work colleague, friend and teacher.

    How did you feel to play in the first AFLW grand final for the Adelaide Crows and then to actually be the first AFLW premiers?

    It’s very hard to describe the feeling of playing in the first AFLW GF as it was a mixture of excitement, nervousness and adrenaline yet the whole day went so fast it is actually all a bit of a blur. We knew that this opportunity doesn’t come around every day and that the way the competition was structured ourselves and the Brisbane Lions were very privileged to be playing in the Grand Final after just 7 games of football.

    Personally I wasn’t able to contribute to the win on the day as much as I would have liked but that feeling and emotion when the siren went and we realized what we had done was unbelievable! Never been so happy! (although draft day was pretty close!!).

    To be honest though I do feel like a bit of a fraud to have an AFL Premiership medal in my possession after only playing 8 games of AFL football when the men play 15 years and may never win one. But at the end of the day, someone had to win and become the new owners of the cup and those medals so I am very grateful it was our team and would not change a thing!

    Do you feel the Adelaide Crows could go back to back in 2018?

    Absolutely! Why can’t we?! Our squad has only become stronger and there is certainly no complacency amongst the group, as we know how to win it. Next year we must improve. Season 2 is a whole new ball game so bring it on I say!
      ...


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    Mason Cox has managed to make a remarkable transition to Australian Rules football in his brief time in the AFL. In just 20 AFL games, the big Texan has grown more and more familiar with the game and begun to exert his influence on games, using his towering 212cm frame to disturb opposition defences. He has kicked 27 goals in his three seasons at Collingwood, with a strong prediction that there is better to come.

    The www.afl.com.au website has suggested as much with their latest article, exploring players likely to have breakout seasons in 2018.

    According to reporter, Ben Collins, “There are big hopes for Mason Cox to not only establish himself in the Magpies' line-up but become a key figure in what has been a misfiring attack. It's a tall task given the 'American Pie' has been playing the game for just three years and has just 20 AFL games and 27 goals to his name.”


    “However, a new three-year contract signalled the Pies' belief in Cox, and coach Nathan Buckley has confirmed the 26-year-old will be given time to develop a ruck/forward partnership with Brodie Grundy, a pairing that worked well in the final-round win over Melbourne.”

    Cox is not the only North American born player to have a “breakout” prediction assigned to them. Essendon’s Andrew McGrath – a native of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada – moved to Australia 14 years ago and grew up playing Australian Rules football in Australia before being selected by Essendon as the #1 draft pick in 2016. The same article lists McGrath as the most likely Essendon player to explode in 2018.

    The combination of the two future stars presents a potential marketing bonanza across North America as prospective players become more and more familiar with the game and the genuine opportunities available for those willing to take the gamble and do the hard yards to achieve success at AFL level.

    To read the complete AFL article about players set for big things in 2018, go to: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2017-12-16...er-in-2018


    ...

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    The West London Wildcats will be hosting the 2018 AFL London Pre-Season Cup. To be played at the Duke’s Meadows Playing Fields, the event will be jointly hosted by AFL London and the AFL London Umpires Association. The event will be played on Saturday April 21st from 9am to 4pm.

    Details of the draw will be released at a later date when details are clearer about which teams will be at the event for both the men’s and women’s draws. The matches feature 18 per side on the field and mark the build up to the start of the AFL London premiership season which will commence soon afterwards.

    The West London Wildcats are the current title-holders in the men’s draw, having downed the North London Lions last year in the same event. In the women’s draw it was the GB Swans taking the title after defeating the Wandsworth Demons.


    The event marks the major tune-up for teams prior to the start of the 2018 AFL London season where teams will have spent much time plotting the downfall of the Wandsworth Demons. The Demons are the reigning premiers in both the Mens’ and Women’s Premiership divisions and will be the hunted in 2018.

    To keep up with news about the AFL London competition, visit their website at http://www.afllondon.com/ or their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AFLLondon/


    Photo: AFL London Facebook Pa ...

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    It was only four rounds ago when the Darwin Buffaloes were thumped by St Mary’s for a fifth loss in six matches, with an average of nine goals a game over that period – twice being kept to just two goals. Credit must now go to the coaching crew and players after the Buffaloes won their third straight since then, with each winning score being 120 points or better. That massive turnaround sees the Buffaloes now sitting in clear third place and a chance to consolidate a finals spot after the Christmas/New Year break.

    Palmerston Magpies fought gamely, being just two goals adrift of the Buffaloes at half time. But, a strong 10 goal second half from Darwin saw them pull away at the end by a comfortable 44 points. Once again, the Buffaloes found multiple scoring avenues, which has been a hallmark of their resurgence. Ezekiel Frank kicked four goals for the Magpies.

    Waratah once again have impressed by downing a shaky St Mary’s. After last weekend’s draw against bottom-placed Palmerston, there were questions about the Tahs’ current run of form – maybe a flash in the pan – but they were back to their best with a 19-point victory, which could have been greater but for inaccurate kicking – 25 scoring shots to 11. It gives them the scalps of Southern Districts, Nightcliff and St Mary’s in an impressive run since round five. The Green Machine is on shaky ground going into the break with just five wins and needing a resurgence of their own.

    The Tiwi Bombers drew with Wanderers in a tight match. Separated by just a point at the final change, Wanderers effectively handed the draw to the Bombers kicking one goal and eleven behinds in a wasteful final quarter – Tiwi, urged on by their home crowd, kicked three straight goals for the quarter and that was enough to claw themselves a valuable two points. Interestingly, this draw, on the back of last weekend’s draw between Palmerston and Waratah, sees the bottom three now back to a battle for four points each round – none of them now having a half game buffer.

    In the match of the round – in terms of ladder position – first played second and it was almost totally Southern Districts’ way. After a tight first quarter – 4 goals apiece and scores level – the Crocs then put the foot down, especially defensively, to keep Nightcliff to just one goal for the next three quarters whilst slamming home another 12 goals of their own. It was a disappointing loss for the Tigers, down on key players but still trying to make a statement. Unfortunately for them, it was Crocs doing all the talking and they have now firmed heavily as flag favourites.

    The competition is now in recess until Saturday 6th January. As has often happened, it is a chance for teams to reassess and it is likely that at least one club will now come out after the break to make a charge to the finals.

    The next round will see St Mary’s take on the Tiwi Bombers and Wanderers clash with the Darwin Buffaloes on the Saturday. The Sunday matches will see Palmerston do battle with Nightcliff, whilst the big match of the round promises to be the Waratah versus Southern Districts encounter.

    Final Scores:
    Tiwi Bombers 12 13 85 drew with Wanderers 11 19 85
    Darwin Buffaloes 18 16 124 d Palmerston Magpies 12 8 80
    Waratah 9 16 70 d St Mary’s 8 3 51
    Southern Districts Crocs 16 2 98 d Nightcliff Tigers 5 8 ...

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    In the current Australian Rules football climate the idea of a national league team being located outside of Australia is still being viewed as untenable and unnecessary by many. So, imagine how far-fetched an idea it must have been to suggest the re-location of a VFL team to the United States back in the late 1980’s.

    To further highlight the extravagance of the idea, many international-based competitions were yet to be created and only a very embryonic network of Australian Rules football competitions existed outside of Australia. In fact, the Sydney Swan shad only just moved permanently to the harbour city in 1982 and the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears were admitted to the VFL in 1987 – the competition was barely a national one much less ready to go overseas.

    Yet, the following excerpt from Michael Warner’s story in the Herald Sun newspaper sheds light on this idea – which almost ironically could be seen as a forerunner to expansion and development processes for the game in the decades following.

    “A RADICAL plan to relocate a Melbourne club to Los Angeles in 1988 is detailed in documents uncovered by the Herald Sun. The LA Crocodiles would have played home matches at the Rosebowl in Pasadena or the Los Angeles Coliseum.

    The audacious proposal had the backing of powerful football administrator Allen Aylett, who was consulting for the league on potential club mergers and relocations.

    A formal submission was presented to the VFL commission in September 1987, but it was rejected at a board meeting one month later. Aylett - the VFL’s chairman from 1977-84 and a key player behind South Melbourne’s shift to Sydney in 1982 - approached a WA consortium about financing the relocation of a club to Canberra before the group presented the Californian counter-plan.

    'It is proposed to relocate an existing Melbourne team to Los Angeles, preferably in time for the 1988 season,' the submission declared.”

    Warner’s article certainly raises some interesting arguments for the international Aussies Rules community. Had the idea succeeded, the image of the game would already be enormous in the United States by now, and exponentially across the world. We wouldn’t be seeing experimental value in players like Mason Cox, Jason Holmes and others from that country.

    But infinitely more likely, a failure of that project would likely have caused damage to the brand of Australian Rules football and the game would likely not have grown in the United States in the same way that it has to date.

    To read the full article from the Herald Sun about this extraordinary concept, follow this link.  

     

    Picture Credit: Herald Sun newspaper. ...


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    Tash Gunawardana interviewed Lauren Spark from the Western Bulldogs AFLW team. Spark plays ruck and key defender for the Western Bulldogs and she used to play for the Wimbledon Hawks in the AFL London competition and for Melbourne University in the VFL Women’s competition.

    What made you choose women’s football over women’s beach volleyball?
    I loved beach volleyball and still do, but it’s a tough sport to progress further in, with limited coaches and players available. I had always wanted to play football and wasn’t until age of 27 I met a friend who was playing and went down to join her at Melbourne University Women’s Football club.

    Did you play any other sports growing up, other than beach volleyball and football?
    Yes played all sorts, mainly tennis as a junior and then netball as a teen.

     

    How old were you when you first started playing women’s football?
    27 years, (been playing for 5 years, with 2 years spent in London).

    Picture (right) Courtesy Western Bulldogs Football Club

    What is your biggest sporting accomplishment?
    Drafted to AFL Women’s Western Bulldogs

    What did you enjoy most about playing for the Wimbledon Hawks in AFL London?
    The social aspect was my favourite, I didn’t know a single person when I first arrived and joining the Hawks allowed me to meet new people.

    How long did you play football for the Wimbledon Hawks and how long have you played football for Melbourne University?
    Played for Hawks 2015 and 2016 (2 Years)
    Melbourne University 2012-2015 (3 years)

    How did you feel when the Western Bulldogs drafted you in 2016 at pick no.76?
    Over the moon! I was sitting up at 4am in my London flat watching the draft live and couldn’t believe when my name was read out. Had to pack up London life and book a flight home the week later.

    Which AFL player past and/or current do you model your game on?
    I loved the way Glenn Archer (mad North Melbourne supporter growing up) went about his football.


    What do you feel are your main strengths in football?
    Using my height, strengths would be overhead and contested marking.

    What areas in your football do you feel you need to improve in?
    Working below my knees (ground balls) and becoming more aggressive during games.

    What do you like doing other than playing football?
    I love being outdoors, cute coffee shops (lots to find in Melbourne), nice food, travelling around the world, bit of scrapbooking sometimes.

    Picture (left) Courtesy Western Bulldogs Football Club

    What is your pre game ritual?
    I like to get in early, and settle early. Hate feeling rushed. Like to mingle and have a chat to the girls. Always music playing and then get into pre game warm up, and always into the snacks before a match.

    What is your go to meal after a football match?
    Lucky we have very helpful nutritionists at the Bulldogs, and they feed us after a game, and by that stage I’m very hungry could eat anything.


    What are you most looking forward to in your second AFLW season with the Dogs?
    Building onto what we already begun to create in season one also a few new girls into the mix this season should also shake it up a little.


    Picture Above and top from IC17 Where Spark was an assistant coach of the GB Swans.   ...


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  • 12/24/17--20:30: A Christmas Footy Story

  • The young girl positioned herself behind the goalposts as usual. She did this at every training session to watch her brothers. On the field the coach barked orders and the players continued another set of sprints, sweat pouring from their brows, but knowing this was the last training session before the Christmas break.

    Hannah watched the players. She watched them complete their handpassing drills every training night. She watched the kicking drills. She watched the tackling, the marking, everything. Tonight a tear ran down her cheek when she wished that maybe Santa might one day grant her the chance to play her favourite game. Maybe this Christmas?

    As she sat watching, her cheeks still red from her gentle weeping, the coach turned around and faced her. Hannah was unsure why or what had happened. Maybe something was going on behind her. But the coach started motioning for her to come out onto the field.

    A startled Hannah was lost for words. Instead she motioned that she couldn’t. But the coach was insistent. Again he waved his arms to invite her on to the field. Hannah started to move, then stopped as she noticed that all the players had stopped training and were watching. Embarrassment overcame her and she remained paralysed with fear.

    At this the coach left the group and came over to the goal square. He then spoke in a gentle, reassuring way. “Hannah, your brothers tell me you would love to play footy for Christmas.”

    Hannah didn’t know what to say.

    The coach motioned again for Hannah to come to him. This time she touched the controls and drove her wheelchair out onto the field and met the coach in the goal square. When she reached the coach, she started in a flood of words “I…I, can’t play footy….I…am paraplegic…I…”

    Before she could continue, the coach gently held up a hand and asked. “Hannah, you can handpass can’t you?” Hannah nervously replied “Yes”. The coach added, “and you can mark can’t you?” and with that he handpassed a ball at Hannah, which she caught competently in front of her face. She smiled, and handpassed back.

    For a few moments they handpassed to each other, Hannah breaking into fits of giggles and the coach applauding every ball Hannah caught.

    By now the rest of the team, led by Hannah’s brothers, had gathered around the scene. Very soon the other players joined in handpassing to Hannah, who marked every ball in sight. This was the most amazing night. Training had never been this good.

    For the first time ever, since her first memories of following her brothers to training or going to matches, Hannah felt like she was a part of the team.

    The coach marked the ball and stopped the game. A hush came across the group, then the coach spoke. “Hannah, show me how you can kick.”

    Hannah went white. On the verge of tears she tried to speak, but nothing came out. She tried again. “But….my legs…I can’t…I..can’t…kick. I can’t…stand. I can’t…walk.”

    But the coach, kindly but assuredly, said, “We can help you.”

    At that Hannah’s brothers came to her side and lifted her from the wheelchair to her feet. They helped turn her around to face the goals. The coach leaned down and placed the footy at her feet.

    Hannah trembled. She looked around at the players who stood by her side, absolutely there for a team mate. Nobody said a word. Her brothers held her steady. The coach looked up into her eyes. “Kick the winning goal, Hannah.”

    Slowly and surely Hannah overcame her fears and doubts. She began to believe that she could do this. She had never in her life kicked a football. A dogged determination to succeed took hold and Hannah looked down at the ball. She was just nine metres out from goal, directly in front. As they say, she would have to fall over to miss it. That was her fear. That could happen.

    And how could she move her legs? How could she control them?

    Hannah looked at the ball again, then glanced quickly around the crowd of players surrounding her. Everyone there was willing her to succeed. She could see it in their eyes.

    It was now or never.

    Hannah watched the ball -A fundamental skill of kicking. She emptied her mind of all doubt and focused solely on the ball and the target. Another skill she had learned from her brothers. She summoned every bit of strength, power of mind, divine providence and sheer luck that she could muster and asked her foot to kick the ball. At that, her leg swung and her foot made contact with the ball. Leather perfect as Denis Cometti would say.

    The ball took off. It leapt about a foot in the air, then fell. It bounced, rolled, bounced, rolled, rolled and rolled…across the line and through for a goal.

    At that, everyone cheered wildly. Hannah’s brothers hugged her. The players whooped and high fived each other. Then, to Hannah’s total shock, the siren went. One of the players had run over to the timekeeper’s room and blown the siren. Hannah had kicked the winning goal.

    The coach, still kneeling on the ground, looked up at Hannah and said, “I knew you could do it.”

    As the players lifted Hannah onto their shoulders to chair her from the field, she thanked the coach, the players, her brothers and family. In her mind she thanked God, and all those people who had helped her through life.

    And today she had another thought.

    “Thanks, Santa.”

    Merry Christmas to all from World Footy News. ...

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    For a number of years the Osaka Dingoes in Japan were one of the mainstays of the national league in the country. For a good few years, the Dingoes were right up there with the Tokyo Goannas as the teams to beat. However, in a world of change, things didn’t stay the same, and the once mighty Dingoes fell on harder times as their club and the league around them looked at changing the footy landscape – for a number of reasons.

    The end result saw the Osaka Dingoes stand on the edge of a precipice and look down into the void of footy oblivion. Part of Japanese footy history and nothing more.

    But that didn’t happen, and Matt Gale, president of both AFL Asia and now of the Osaka Dingoes, tells the story of how close the club came to extinction and how they have found their way back. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and at times has been fractious, but the end result is one of confidence and potential.

    Matt states that “The Osaka Dingoes played its last ‘official’ game in the 2013 AFL Japan Top League Grand Final, admirably going down against the Tokyo Bay Suns.”

    “Within months of the Grand Final, AFL Japan is no uncertain terms told us that we’d no longer be in the Top League and that the Osaka Dingoes and the Nagoya Redbacks would need to start their own league in the West of Japan. At the end of 2013, we were also told that we needed to create new teams to play against otherwise it’d only be us and Nagoya in a ‘two team’ competition. ”

    “I decided that the writing was on the wall. I was 35 years old, kicked 103 goals in nine games, including a Gary Ablett-style nine goals in a losing Grand Final and wanted to explore Japan with my wife and walked away from the game.”

    “The Osaka Dingoes have been in a dormant period and barely played an exhibition game until about 15 months ago when I decided to resurrect the club, otherwise it would’ve been lost forever.”

    “Over the past 15 months, I’ve been interviewed by SEN1116 about our situation. We’ve been able to get some footys from the AFL - about 35 Auskick footys through an SANFL contact of mine. We’ve delivered over a dozen Auskick Clinics within Japanese schools, successfully gained a new major sponsor in recent months, hosted an ANZAC Day tournament, which included the Japan Samurais, and more importantly reconnected and rekindled an effective and respectful working relationship with AFL Japan.”

    “In the upcoming months the Osaka Dingoes will be officially welcomed back into the AFL Japan circles in a playing capacity within a structured footy competition. It’s a remarkable turnaround, that was also assisted by my roles within AFL Asia. Throughout the 2017 season, I was the AFL Asia Coaching & Umpiring Development Coordinator and was recently elected as the AFL Asia President for the 2018 season. I’ve utilised my Osaka Dingoes and AFL Asia roles in a double-edge sword approach and in a patient manner to get us to this point and it’s finally come to fruition.”

    It is a great story, one of dedication and determination, but also of an underdog prepared to get up off the canvass – to use the boxing vernacular – and once again dream of firstly being back on the field, then finals and then the ultimate dream – another club premiership. Some of those things might be a little way off yet, but the Osaka Dingoes are back and with Matt and his team driving them, the sky really has to be the limi ...

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    I was listening to the cricket today and one of the guest English commentators enquired as to the process in picking which team to support. His question was probably aimed more at Melbourne, the epicentre of the game, but the question itself is valid no matter where you are from.

    It isn’t an easy answer, either. Firstly, the question has answers that fit for grass roots connections right through to national and international clubs. There are so many ways a person can become attached to a club.

    Whether it be geography, traditions, family, success, colours, personal connection, sporting idol or just throwing a dart at a dart board, people always have a story to tell. Most of those conversations will revolve around the VFA/VFL/AFL lineage, and interstate competitions such as the WAFL, SANFL NTFL and more, but the connections to a club are still vast.


    In my own case it was easy. Dad was a Bomber fan, therefore I inherited that love. Mind you, that was in competition with a Geelong mum, Collingwood grandfather, quietly Richmond grandmother and peer groups that set out to influence everything from your clothing, taste in music, favourite places to hang out and which team you should support. Nevertheless, I survived all of that and made my dad proud.

    Dad was aided and abetted by one of my aunties who was also a staunch Essendon supporter, and had some hand-made metal bombers, circa-1940’s, which had been kiln painted in red and black. They were truly the coolest things I’d seen and made a visit to my aunty and uncles house very worthwhile.

    Each year, when a team wins a flag, a new legion of fans in born. Mostly younger people just entering the world of supporting a club and heavily influenced by the success of that year’s premiers – provided family or some other influence doesn’t get a foothold.

    The change from the old VFL to AFL had some big supporter changes. Western Australians and Queenslanders (as well as New South Welshman in 1982) went from supporting their local state league club and possibly supporting a VFL club also to having their own teams in the state (Sydney Swans in 1982, West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears in 1987). As time passed, the Adelaide Crows joined in as did Fremantle Dockers, Port Adelaide Power and more recently the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants. It has meant that supporters in four states have two teams each to choose from.

    Yet, I know my cousins in Adelaide were devout Glenelg and Carlton supporters and still are. I guess that privately they probably do follow one of the South Australian AFL clubs, but I never hear it.

    Colours are also a funny thing. My first playing colours were Collingwood’s black and white stripes. This is more accurate that just similar…my club, Clayton, were donated old Collingwood jumpers (complete with matching moths, which had eaten the jumpers in places, leading to the club’s localised nickname – the ‘Holes”).

    Yet that wasn’t enough to sway me from Essendon. However, it was red and black which led me to follow West Adelaide in the SANFL and more recently the Tiwi Bombers in the NTFL. Yet, there are some kids I played at Clayton with who did go on and follow the Magpies because of the colour connection.

    Proximity certainly has an impact. To be close to the headquarters of one of the VFL teams, especially if you fell within their local player catchment, would see a certain tribalism. Many will argue and counter-argue, but Collingwood, Richmond and South Melbourne were three clubs that showed this connection well, as did Carlton and Fitzroy. Essendon did also, but was a fraction further out in the ‘suburbs’ and Geelong had an entire city and surrounding districts that drove the club.

    That connection can now be better seen with the interstate clubs, but still exists in a localised form – just not as noticeably as before. But a wander through the suburbs of Richmond and Footscray over the past two years would open your eyes to just how connected those suburbs are to their premiership winning clubs.

    Many people have personal connections to clubs – either players, officials or someone else connected to the club. But past greats are a huge drawcard. At Essendon, people would upport the Bombers purely on their love of John Coleman. The same happened for “Captain Blood” Jack Dyer at Richmond, any of the Coventry’s at Collingwood and more. Some players transcended the club and would be universally loved. It still happens today. I know of a kid who supported St Kilda purely because of his love for Nick Reiwoldt.

    There are so many ways club connections are made – and the same happens at all levels of the game. But as 2017 draws to a close, maybe you could look back and remember the reasons for your reasons for becoming a part of a footy trib ...

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    The AFL's All Australian team was announced back in September this year.  State of Origin football is in a long hiatus - but theoretical State teams are announced each year - a number of media outlets still name theoretical state teams and the Big Footy Forum has a selection of user submitted teams here for 2017.  They generally take in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia as well as an Allies team (NT, Tasmania, ACT, Queensland and NSW). 

    But what about the rest of the worldω If the Rest of the World were to play against any of the teams above, what is the best team they could musterω  We have determined eligibility for our theoretical world selection along the line of the International Cup eligibility rules and we have named the 2017 World Team (so this does not include foreign born but Australian raised players).

    This year we have named Irishman Zach Tuohy as captain of the 2017 team after his sucessful move to Geelong where he was a key part of the Cat's defence and featuring in finals footy.

    As with the International Cup the coach can be Australian but should have a strong link with international football. This year we have selected David Lake the coach of the PNG Mosquitoes and assistant coach of the Brisbane Lions AFLW team.  Lake led the Mozzies to their second consecutive International Cup title.  

     As well as players now on full AFL lists, International Rookies (Cat B) and International Scholarship players this team includes;

    • Sam Willatt  who was on the list at Sandringham this year but unfortunately didnt play much footy with a knee injury (sorely missed by the GB Bulldogs at IC17),
    • Padraig Lucey who departed Geelong this year and played with Newtown in the Geelong Football Leauge, and also continued to be a dominant force in the Irish team at IC17
    • Alex Aurrichio who departed Carlton and chased further chances in the NEAFL and the SANFL.
    • Chen Shiaoliang who continues to be the face of Australian football in China, based at the Port Adelaide Football Club and debuted with the Port Adelaide Magpies this year. 
    • Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu the American from the Austin Crows judged player of the tournament at IC17.
    • Paul "Ace" Hewago Oea the PNG young gun awarded best on ground in the IC17 Grand Final and following his Under 16 Championships performances for Queensland is now part of the AFL Academy Squad. 
    • Kiwis Will Gregson, Joe Baker-Thomas and Barclay Miller who have all spent time with the Sandringham/St Kilda VFL or TAC Cup setup.

    This team is intended to be an annual announcement, you can see last year's team here

      ...


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    Nat Edwards from the www.afl.com.au website reports on the AFL’s latest bold move to use the new to be revealed AFLX football format as a key weapon in growing Australian Rules football in both China and India in coming years.

    THE LEAGUE will use its new high-octane format, AFLX, to make a significant push into China and India in the future.

    The fast-paced, shortened format will make its debut in February across three separate tournaments starting in Adelaide on February 15 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

    Melbourne will host the second lot of AFLX round-robin matches at Etihad Stadium on February 16, before the game heads to Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

    The game, which is played with 10 players per team, has been adapted to be played on rectangular grounds.

    The ability to play AFLX at soccer and rugby venues will give the League more scope to push the game into non-traditional AFL states such as New South Wales and Queensland, while it also opens the door for the AFL to promote and develop the hybrid game in China and India.

    AFL general manager of China, David Stevenson, told AFL.com.au the League had its sights firmly set on taking AFLX overseas to Asia.

    "Absolutely [that's our goal]. I think there are two reasons for that," he said.

    "One is we're targeting at kids and families, that's our primary audience. That's why we have a shorter format, 10-minute halves, high scoring, lots of active play in that time. It's targeted at young kids, which will work in New South Wales and Queensland, as well as China and India.

    "The second reason is logistically, in those markets (China and India), there are no venues. In China as we found there are not a lot of venues that are oval. In India, it's a little easier as they play a lot of cricket, but in China it's harder.

    "Some part of New South Wales and Queensland there's a lot of rugby and soccer fields, so AFLX could work there too."

    The AFL hasn't yet set a timeline for when it might attempt to introduce AFLX into the Asian market, but it is keen to get participation programs up and running in those regions.

    Australian football isn't a foreign concept in China, with Gold Coast and Port Adelaide playing the first ever game for premiership points in Shanghai in May last year.

    Chinese broadcaster Guangzhou TV also aired regular AFL games during the 2017 home and away season, as well as last year's Grand Final.

    Port Adelaide, in conjunction with the AFL, has also set up football programs at 15 schools in Shanghai.

    India on the other hand is relatively untapped by the AFL, despite having the world's fastest growing economy.

    A report published by the United Nations department of economic and social affairs has predicted India will be the world's most populous country by 2024, overtaking China.

    In June last year, Essendon and Adelaide announced they were forming a strategic partnership to grow the game in India, in the hopes of eventually playing an exhibition match on Indian soil.

    To view the original article from Nat Edwards, go to the AFL’s website at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2018-01-02/x-marks-the-spot-for-asian-expansion

     

     

    Picture Credit: www.afl.com.au ...


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    At half time in the NTFL match between the Tiwi Bombers and St Mary’s there was little to suggest the final outcome. Both teams were locked on 50 points apiece in an arm wrestle where Saints gained the upper hand in the first quarter before the Bombers bounced back with a strong second quarter.

    But that was where the similarities ended. Fourteen goals to four after half time saw the Bombers capitalise on their strong work to finish the first half to blitz Saints and record a valuable 65 point win. The performance has seen the Bombers jump up to sixth on the ladder, just a game outside the top five with plenty of time to secure finals. They sit just half a game behind the shaky Saints and have a steadily improving percentage. With their next two matches being against teams below them on the ladder, the Bombers have a great chance of finishing the season strongly.

    Saints, on the other hand, have to regroup quickly or risk the unthinkable – missing finals. They simply must win their next match against struggling Wanderers before playing the improving Waratah, Buffaloes and Nightcliff – a trio of matches that will define their season.


    The Darwin Buffaloes played a solid three quarters to hold a comfortable three quarter time lead over Wanderers. But the Eagles regrouped and came back hard in the final quarter to go down by just a goal in the end. If it weren’t for some imprecise kicking (five goals from eleven scoring shots in the final quarter) Wanderers may have overrun the Buffaloes, but it wasn’t to be. The win strengthens the Buffaloes finals chances, but consigned Wanderers to second last place on the ladder and in dire need of a change of fortunes to even threaten finals.

    The Southern Districts Crocs were determined to seek revenge over Waratah under leaden skies on Sunday. Waratah upset the Crocs last time they played (the Crocs only defeat so far this season), and the same thing seemed set to occur with Waratah leading at quarter and three quarter time over the ladder leaders. But Crocs unleased a six goal final term and kept Waratah scoreless to snare their eleventh win for the season. Waratah still sit in fourth place on the ladder and are well placed to see finals action, but need to regroup again for next week.

    Nightcliff and Palmerston played out a slogging, grinding affair in the damp conditions on Sunday, with the Tigers holding out a determined Magpies unit – in the end by 28 points in a game where scoring was not easy. Nightcliff were never really allowed to pay their open, expansive game due to the conditions and the Magpie pressure. Nightcliff now hold second place, two games ahead of the Buffaloes but two games behind Crocs. With just six rounds to go, Palmerston are three games behind Wanderers and would have to pray for miracles to avoid this season’s wooden spoon.

    Next weekend will see Wanderers and St Mary’s, both desperate for a change of fortunes, face off whilst the Tiwi Bombers will make a charge at a finals place against Palmerston. Two big clashes see the top four teams locked in big battles with the Darwin Buffaloes (3rd) taking on the Southern Districts Crocs (1st) and Waratah (4th) doing battle with Nightcliff Tigers (2nd). It is sure to be a huge round which will define much of the makeup of the ladder heading into the final five rounds.


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    With the start of the new AFLW season getting closer – the Round One clash between arch rivals, Collingwood and Carlton, on February 2nd – Adam Curley from the www.afl.com.au website reports that the GWS Giants have a new weapon up their sleeve ahead of the new season – Irish legend, Cora Staunton.

    ONE OF Ireland's most decorated athletes, Cora Staunton, is looking forward to being just another Greater Western Sydney player when the NAB AFL Women's season starts in February.

    Staunton is a Gaelic football legend in her country, a dominant forward who just last month was named an All-Star – the equivalent of the AFL's All Australian honour – for a record 11th time. 

    The 36-year-old is a household name in Ireland, having first represented her county Mayo in 1995, aged just 13, and is one of the game's biggest stars, so she told AFL.com.au just days after arriving in Sydney that she's happy to leave the spotlight behind to concentrate on learning her new code.

    "At home, I'm expected to be the top scorer in every game, so this will be different and there'll be less pressure on me," Staunton said.

    "The last two months I've made the news and the papers in Ireland. Every week there's been something about me coming to Australia in the media, but the reaction has been really positive.

    "There's a little bit of a concern [back home] that the best female footballers might start leaving to come out and play here, but I don't think that will be an issue.

    "They always panic about that sort of thing, just like they did when lads like Tadhg Kennelly, Zac Tuohy and Pearce Hanley came over.

    "They don't like to lose their top stars."

    Staunton said Kennelly and Tuohy, along with Sydney defender Colin O'Riordan and a host of other Irishmen, have made her move to Australia more comfortable, and having her brother Brian and his young family living in Sydney will also help her settle in.

    "Most of the Irish boys out here have either called or texted me to offer their support. It's been brilliant," she said.

    "Even the ones who were here but have gone home like [former St Kilda and Swans defender] Tommy Walsh have been in touch with advice."

    Staunton arrived at GWS via last year's NAB AFLW Draft, almost 12 months after bumping into Giants' backline coach and Irishman Nick Walsh while they were in China while promoting Gaelic football.

    Walsh spoke to Staunton about AFLW and asked if she had any interest in trying a new sport. After a brief skills session with the son of now-coach Alan McConnell in London a few weeks later, the Giants were convinced to recruit the veteran forward.

    She fulfilled her county duties in November before jumping on a plane to begin what is sure to be the most challenging time of her sporting career.

    "The opportunity to come over here and try and pick up a whole new game was too hard to turn down," she said.

    "At times I think, ‘What am I doing hereω' but the Irish love a challenge more than anything else.

    "Most of the skills are transferable. It's the shape of the ball and the physicality that are the biggest changes.

    "The rules and the terminology are also a challenge but I've been doing plenty of cramming."

    Staunton might have some learning to do about her adopted code, but McConnell said she was recruited for much more than her playing ability.

    "She's really driven and that’s one of the biggest reasons we wanted her to be here," he said.

    "She'll be a great role model for the rest of our team and bring a lot of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and high training standards to the group.

    "That will no doubt help our group get better fast."

    The original article by Adam Curley can be viewed at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2018-01-07/aflw-irish-footy-legends-new-ball-game

     

     

    Photo Credit: www.afl.com.au ...


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    In a big few weeks for the USAFL currently in the offseason, there has been change at the top and expulsion of Tampa Bay ARFC.

    Steve Grandfield who was elected USAFL President just this past October has resigned the position "due to professional opportunities outside of football".  Following a highly successful National Championships in San Diego and riding a wave of optimism, the league is looking for some stability at the top after previous president Denis Ryan resigned for personal reasons and the position then being filled leading to this year's election by VP East, Mike Sheppard.

    Per the USAFL constitution, if the President role is vacated, the longest serving Vice President fills the role until the next AGM. Sebestian Aguiari who has been the Vice President of the West Region since 2015 with the agreement of the USAFL board will now serve as USAFL President until the next AGM in October.
     
    The USAFL also released the following statement on the group calling themselves Major League Footy based around the Tampa Bay ARFC/ St Petersburg Swans "We are aware of some social media activity regarding Major League Footy (MLF) recently and we want to make sure it is very clear that the USAFL is in no way affiliated with MLF or any of its operations. MLF is a For-Profit organization and its business model is in conflict with the USAFL's Non-Profit status. Subsequently, be advised that the Tampa Bay ARFC / St Petersburg Swans are no longer a USAFL member club."

    The MLF has heavy involvement from AFI the organisation run by Brian Clarke (CEO) and readers will also recognise another familiar name in Miro Gladovic from the "American Footy Star" concept who is the "Director of Pro Player Development".  

    In response MLF released their own statement on their website, to quote the statement in part "Major League Footy is independent of the USAFL, which is the currently-recognized sanctioning body of the sport in the United States.

    The business model of Major League Footy differs from the USAFL’s non-profit model, as it is based on the long-standing norms for American professional and semi-professional sports.

    That business model is fused with an intent to focus only on the format of game-play best suited for American playing facilities, player availability, travel and the like – and is the model the St. Petersburg / Tampa Bay club has operated under since 2014.

    As MLF continues gameplay in its second season this weekend, we remain steadfast in our hope that the American landscape of the greatest team sport in the world will see room for new approaches and efforts to always cooperatively grow our game. Together."

    The full MLF statement can read here. ...


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    Tash Gunawardana recently interviewed Fremantle Dockers midfielder Dana Hooker ahead of the upcoming AFLW season. Hooker was the inaugural best and fairest winner for the Fremantle Dockers AFLW side in 2017. 

     
    When you were a kid, what other sports did you play other than footy?
    I grew up playing a few different sports. I did athletics and played basketball and softball all the way into high school. In early high school I started playing football and then that became my sport of choice when I was about 16.

    What did it feel like to be the first female best and fairest champion at the Fremantle Dockers?
    Winning the inaugural fairest and best was certainly a great achievement that I am proud of. The night itself was something I will not ever forget but overall, to have been apart of this inaugural team at Freo and started building the foundations for the women’s side, that’s pretty special. 
     
    (Image left courtesy Fremantle FC) 
     
    What was it like to play for the Allies in the inaugural AFLW State of Origin?
    Playing for the Allies was a great experience and I enjoyed getting to know the girls from other clubs a bit better. Being exposed to other coaches and support staff from within the women’s league has been great for my personal growth.

    Do you believe the AFLW State of Origin was successful for the AFL or not?
    The way the State of Origin game played out was not obviously ideal and it is a credit to the Victorian girls, who many of them have played together for a number of years. I think it shows the value in knowing and understanding your teammates and how that can impact in a team’s performance. But any exposure is great for the growth of the game.
     
    Have you played any other footy position other than in the midfield?
    I have played predominantly in the midfield as long as I have played footy.
    But when we go back to our state league team in the off season, I will play the occasional game up forward to further develop that area of my game.
     
    As you are one of the joint vice captains of the Fremantle Dockers women’s team, what is it like to be part of the leadership group?
    Being part of the leadership group is a great role to have and being able to assist your team mates to better themselves is rewarding. It is important to have a group set the standards and behaviours for the team and lead by example.
     
    In your opinion, what did the Fremantle AFLW team learn from the inaugural season of the AFLW?
    There was a lot to learn from the inaugural season – starting from the whole team’s preparation prior to the season, building on all the skills and areas required to be an elite athlete and building strong relationships within the team. Having had the experience of some hardships last season, we have all grown as individuals and as a team and it will hold us in good stead moving forward.

    Where do you feel the Fremantle AFLW team can finish on the ladder next season?
    It is hard to know where you will finish on the ladder, particularly being such a new competition. We of course aim to finish top of the ladder, we certainly do not play to come second. But it is most important to us to show growth and resilience from last season and play each game competitively and to the best standard we can.
     
    What is your pre game ritual?
    My pre game ritual is pretty casual. It changes depending on what time we play and if we are at home or interstate, but I try and take some time prior to the game to review my roles and expectations for the game. I also listen to some music whilst going through the preparations and try and keep a bit of a lid on the emotional side of it until close to running out onto the ground.
     
    What do you do in the off season?
    We do not tend to get a clear off season from football as we go back to play in our state league competition after the AFLW. But in the spare time I get, I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends. I love water sports also and have previously been into wakeboarding and now giving kite surfing a bit of a go.
     
     (Image right courtesy AFL) 

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    Tash Gunawardana interviewed former Adelaide United captain Marijana Rajcic who was selected at pick no.32 by the Adelaide Crows in the 2017 AFLW National Draft. Congratulations and good luck to Rajcic in her first season at the Crows this year.

    Why did you swap codes from women’s soccer to women’s Australian Rules football?

    It was something that came out of the blue really. I had not ever really thought about playing AFLW, until my best friend planted the seed in my head. The opportunity presented itself and I thought why not give it a crack. A new environment, new people and a new challenge.

    Do you think there will be other players from the W League who might swap codes like you and play in the AFLW?

    Yes for sure. We already have the likes of Bri Davey, Ellie Brush & of course Jenna McCormick who have made the switch to AFLW. But I know a number of girls who have made the switch and are currently playing SANFLW.  But as AFLW continues to grow, I know girls will see what AFLW has to offer them and make the switch.

     Image above source: thewomensgame.com

    For you, what has been the biggest change from playing women’s soccer to playing women’s Australian Rules football?

    The biggest change would have to be the shape of the ball haha. But also just how much ground there is to cover. The size of the oval compared to a soccer pitch is massive. So having to get more kilometres in my legs has probably been the biggest change.

    How did it feel to be picked at no.32 in the 2017 AFLW draft by the Adelaide Crows? '

    It was a very surreal feeling. It did not really sink in until preseason began. But you could not wipe the smile off my face that day.

    Describe what women’s Australian Rules football means to you?

    I have always loved AFL. I watch AFL every week, just like most people do in Australia. But I guess I never thought I would ever play the game. But I guess for me, it is a second chance. A second chance to play in an elite environment, and be playing a sport at the highest possible level in Australia. Image above source: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images AsiaPac

    Who has been the player or players you have learnt the most from since being at the Adelaide Crows?

    Ooooooooo this is a tough question. There are so many players I could mention that if I started listing them, I am sure it would end up being the whole squad. But I have definitely been absorbing as much information as I can to help me develop and improve as fast as I possibly can.

    What is your biggest sporting achievement thus far?

    Hmmm. This is a tough one. But I cannot go past being chosen as Captain of Adelaide United. It was definitely a proud moment and an honour to lead that group of girls.

    As you were the captain of Adelaide United in the W League, what leadership skills can you bring to the Adelaide Crows?

    My positivity and communication skills.

    How do you prepare for a women’s Australian Rules football match and how do you recover after a women’s Australian Rules football match?

    Well since I have only played a handful of Aussie Rules games, preparing to play is not too different to soccer; but just making sure my muscles are feeling good; I am relaxed and focused & know my job. After a match, Recovery is vital. Ice baths is at the top of the list followed by wearing compression tights.

    What are you most looking forward to in your first season with the Adelaide Crows?

    I'm just looking forward to getting this season underway & playing some football with my family!!!

    Image above courtesy Adelaide Football Club.

      ...


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    The Southern Districts Crocs have all but assured themselves the minor premiership this season, mainly on the back of their 82-point win on the weekend over thee Darwin Buffaloes, but also because the Buffaloes and Tigers dropped important games. As a result, the Crocs are now three games and a huge percentage clear of second placed Nightcliff. They will not lose top spot with just five rounds to go – barring something miraculous.

    The Crocs handed the third-placed Buffaloes a football lesson after quarter time on the back on a nine goal to one second quarter. From there, the Crocs just sauntered to victory – again restricting the Buffaloes scoring opportunities and rebounding effectively. The Buffaloes are still in third place, but with the Saints and Bombers lurking and Waratah looking dangerous, the Buffaloes must again get winning momentum to remain a finals proposition.


    The Tiwi Bombers’ resurgence took another positive step when they trounced the Palmerston Magpies by 80 points. On the back of a big win the previous week against St Mary’s, the Bombers again found scoring options aplenty. An eight goal opening quarter from the Bombers set the pattern for the day, and whilst the Magpies were more spirited throughout the rest of the match, they just couldn’t find the answers to stop the Bombers. Tiwi now sit just half a game outside the top five behind St Mary’s and have a chance to jump them if they can down Wanderers next weekend.

    The Saints managed to find another win to keep the wolves from the door when they held out Wanderers by ten points. After leading by 32 points at the main break, the Green Machine had a battle on their hands in the second half as Wanderers came back hard. However, it wasn’t quite enough to bridge the gap and Saints still hold their place in the top five. Wanderers have now gone seven matches without a win – a draw against the Tiwi Bombers their only points since Round Six in a disappointing season to date – especially after winning four of their opening six games.

    Waratah continued to throw the gauntlet down to all finals aspirants with a tough 13-point win against the Nightcliff Tigers. Little separated the teams all match until Waratah broke away with the final three goals of the match to snatch victory from the mouth of defeat. Whilst they still sit in fourth place, Waratah have now beaten Nightcliff twice and have defeated Crocs. They have the credentials to reach the grand final if they can hold form.

    Next weekend will have ramifications across the ladder, but especially for finals. The top of the table clash will see Crocs and Tigers thrash it out whilst St Mary’s and Waratah will clash (fourth v fifth) in an important battle for both teams. The Tiwi Bombers will want to keep momentum going when they take on Wanderers, whilst the Darwin Buffaloes will need to beat the Palmerston Magpies to restore belief in their faltering finals chances.

    Final Scores:
    St Marys 13 5 83 d Wanderers 11 7 73
    Tiwi Bombers 21 13 139 d Palmerston Magpies 9 5 59
    Southern Districts Crocs 17 12 114 d Darwin Buffaloes 5 2 32
    Waratah 12 6 78 d Nightcliff Tigers 10 5 65


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    Matt Heath from the NT News reports on the incredible community support shown for injured Darwin Buffaloes player, Tai Martin-Page, seriously injured in a match last weekend. It is over a week since the terrible incident that has left Tai facing paralysis, but the Darwin football community and beyond have come together through crowd-funding and well-wishing for Tai [pictured second from right]. Matt Heath’s article states that:  

    THE family of a Territory footballer paralysed from the neck down after a sickening on-field clash in Darwin last weekend has been overwhelmed by the response to a fundraising campaign they have launched to try to get him back on his feet. 

     

    Doctors late Saturday gave Tai Martin-Page the all-clear to shift from Royal Perth ­Hospital’s intensive care unit to a specialised spinal ward where he will begin his rehabilitation under the guidance of renowned spinal surgeon Edward Baddour.

     The 27-year-old has been told a final prognosis on his condition – and whether he will walk again – might be some time away but to expect “a long road ahead” after dislocating vertebrae in two places and damaging his spinal cord in the horrific collision in the opening minutes of the Northern Territory Football League match between his side Darwin Buffaloes and Wanderers at Darwin’s TIO Stadium on Saturday.

    He was flown from Darwin to the Perth hospital for emergency spinal surgery last Sunday, where his brother Jay Martin-Page and family members have joined him. 

    Jay Martin-Page said his brother was “doing fine and showing positive signs” and had been motivated by all the public support from across the country 

    Jay and his partner Rachael Norman set up the public Help Tai Walk Again Go Fund Me page on Friday to help raise funds for medical and treatment bills and travel costs. 

    In just over 24 hours, the page had generated half of the $100,000 goal. 

    “Our family is absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of love, support and generosity with Tai’s Go Fund Me page – it’s truly amazing to see the amount of support and love everybody has for Tai and our family,” Jay said. 

    Donations have included $10,000 from the AFL & NT Thunder. On the Go Fund Me page, the family writes that Martin-Page is regarded by everyone who knows him as a “Mr Positivity” and that they expect he will “rise to the challenge” in the face of the traumatic life-changing event. 

    “Unfortunately the medical costs don’t come cheap, especially spinal care and rehabilitation, which is one of the most expensive in the medical field,” the page says.

    “All money raised will go towards assisting with medical costs and ongoing treatment. Due to Tai not being treated in his home state, it will also help his family with travel and accommodation costs.” 

    Martin-Page shifted from Laura to Darwin at the end of the SA season six months ago “to pursue his dream in football” and play in the summer NTFL competition. 

    He made an instant impression in his first season with the Buffaloes and last week was set to be named as a 2018 signing for the NT Thunder.

    In a mark of his character, Martin-Page has said he harbours no ill feeling to Wanderers player Mitchell Taylor, who will face an NTFL tribunal this week after his case was deferred last week. The Buffaloes made an emotion-filled return to the field yesterday at TIO Stadium. The league’s match review panel has charged Taylor with forceful front-on contact. To make a donation to Tai Martin-Page, visit  https://www.gofundme.com/HelpTaiwalkagain

    Matt’s original story can be found at: http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/ntfl-friends-and-family-rally-around-buffaloes-player-tai-martinpage-after-spinal-injury/news-story/9619254d61e6256502bcf9ca38755edc

     

     Picture Credit: ABC News ...


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    The football scene in the SARFL (Scottish Australian Rules Football league) may be about to change if a bid by the West Lothian Eagles to join the league as a full member team is successful. Club founder, Mikey Allen, has fired off a submission for the club to be the fifth team in the SARFL for the 2018 season.

    The club was founded in 2016 when Mikey identified the potential for another Australian Rules football team. Since that time the Falkirk Silverbacks club has ceased, further opening up the prospects for a new team – located between Edinburgh and Glasgow. If successful, the team would join the Greater Glasgow Giants, Glasgow Sharks, Edinburgh Bloods and Kingdom Kangaroos as part of the national league.

    Since their formation as a team in 2016, the Eagles have played in a couple of “friendlies” against Scotland’s Kingdom Kangaroos and English team, the Tyne Tees Tigers and have been growing their numbers at training sessions. They will be competing this year in the 2018 Haggis Cup, all going to plan. Mikey believes the club is ready for the challenges of competing at the nation’s highest level for clubs.

    Their upcoming submission follows their transition from local team to fully-fledged club in December 2017. Mikey will take the reins as head coach and club secretary whilst Ross Barker will be the club’s inaugural president. Jack Buhagiar, travelling through Scotland recently, dropped in to have a kick. So impressed was he with the development of the club, he is returning permanently to West Lothian to take the reins as team manager.

    Not only would their inclusion be a boost for the club, it would be a huge step forward for AFL Scotland and the SARFL competition. Whilst recently added teams – the Greater Glasgow Giants and Kingdom Kangaroos – have now tasted premiership or grand final success, the demise of teams over recent years (Falkirk, North Lanarkshire and Aberdeen) has slowed the progress of the game. But a successful transition by West Lothian would be a massive endorsement for the game and continue positive growth.

    The Eagles will have to wait for the AFL Scotland AGM on January 21st to see if their submission is accepted, but to date the signs are good and a new chapter of footy in Scotland may be about the be written.

    The original story about the growth of the West Lothian Eagles can be found at: West Lothian Eagles On Scottish Horizon

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