Wildcats maintain stranglehold on UK footy
Sunday, August 26 2007 @ 01:23 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The West London Wildcats have again crushed their rivals to win two of the three senior Grand Finals in the finale to the British Australian Rules Football League's 2007 season. The Wildcats were home by 90 points over the Wandsworth Demons in the Premiership League after their second side, the Sheperds Bush Raiders (pictured at left), knocked over Wandsworth's second team, the Clapham Demons, by 46 points in the Conference League final. It wasn't all doom and gloom for Wandsworth, as their South London squad savoured victory by 31 points against the Wildcats' third side, the Ealing Emus, to end the inaugural Social League season.
Grand Final day for the BARFL was Saturday 18th August and got underway with light rain which kept the crowd below the numbers hoped for, but over the day around 1500 patrons showed up. First up was was the Social League decider, and it was a good start for Wandsworth with their South London Demons too good for the Ealing Emus despite the latter losing only one match during the regular season. The 31 point win to the Dees would prove to be the tightest match of the day.
South London Demons 0.1 1.2 3.2 5.11 (41)
Ealing Emus 0.2 0.3 0.3 1.4 (10)
South London Demons - Matesy, Hollers 2, Birdman
Ealing Emus - not supplied
South London Demons - Conrad, Pos, Saundo, Speersy, Dicko
Ealing Emus - not supplied
The middle game of the day saw the Shepherds Bush Raiders continue their run of winning every Conference flag since the division began. There was none better than former Noble Park (in Victoria) premiership player Paul Donahoo who was playing captain and coach of the Raiders as they steamed to victory, reversing their semi-final loss to Clapham two weeks earlier. There was nothing in it at half-time but as they say in the classics, the third quarter is the premiership quarter, and so it proved as the Raiders booted four unanswered goals to open a match-winning lead in what was described as an extremely physical game between the intense rivals.
Shepherds Bush Raiders 1.4 2.6 6.11 10.13 (73)
Clapham Demons 2.1 3.1 3.2 4.2 (26)
Sheperds Bush Raiders - Clint Johnson 3, Stephen Glenn 2, Peter Van Blommestein, Travis Stephens, David McMurdo, Josh Ancrum, Adam Baker 1
Clapham Demons - Fergus, Ben L, Matty S, Phil
Sheperds Bush Raiders - Paul Donahoo, Josh Ancrum, Stephen Glenn, Nathan Costley, Travis Stephens, David McMurdo, Adam Baker, Jono Watson
Clapham Demons - Meat, Matt S, Crowey, Allo, Cutter
Finally to the Premiership division, the BARFL's most highly prized flag. The rules are such that clubs must field at least 50% EU players in this league, so a club's ability to recruit and develop these players has a crucial role in the outcome, with English and Irish filling most of the spots. The Cats won the coin toss and kicked with a four goal breeze and quickly escaped to a commanding six goal lead at quarter time. The big question was whether the Demons could steady and make similar use of the wind in the second quarter, but the answer was a resounding no as the Wildcats actually stretched the margin by adding four goals to one, effectively killing the contest. Former Ballarat boy and joint captain Damian 'Nutta' Stewart dominated in the centre for West London to win the Keith Burley medal for best on ground, and other powerful performances came from Justin ‘Maca’ McCallion, co-captain Xavier 'Big X' McKinnon, Jeremy ‘Jip’ Quick and Mick Oldfield. Wandsworth were never really in the hunt and must have known the challenge would be huge given their big loss to the Cats earlier in the finals. The final margin of 90 points was a bitter way to end what was generally an excellent season. The end of season trip to Spain immediately afterwards will go some way to easing the pain.
West London Wildcats 6.2 10.5 13.12 16.15 (111)
Wandsworth Demons 0.1 1.2 2.3 3.3 (21)
West London Wildcats - Damian Stewart, Justin McCallion, Josh Bartel 2, Tommy Wigley, Chris Peel, Kenneth Ewen-Chappell, Barry Malone, Ciaran Merrigan, Andrew Petrie 1
Wandsworth Demons - Coops, Ben J, Coombesy
West London Wildcats - Damian Stewart, Justin McCallion, Xavier McKinnon, Jeremy Quick, Mick Oldfield, Tommy Wigley, Ben McNamara, Donal Mullen, Connor Beirne
Wandsworth Demons - Hoju, Sparkles, Tuddy, Aussie, Coombesy
Readers could be forgiven for thinking the three BARFL leagues must be quite small given the same two clubs matched up in the three grand finals this year. In fact there are 18 teams across the three divisions, with this year's match-ups just reflecting the strength of the Wildcats and the Demons. We could suggest West London's success in 2007 is a good omen for their sister club, the AFL's Geelong Cats, but then the Wildcats provide a good omen every year - this was their 4th straight win in the Premiership and incredible 7th straight for Sheperds Bush in the Conference.
Next on the UK footy agenda are internationals for the British Bulldogs as they continue to build for the 2008 International Cup, whilst rivals ARUK send their own England side to the EU Cup in Germany. There's also the intriguing possibility of an inter-league clash - more on that later.
West London Wildcats celebrate 4 in-a-row.