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Wednesday, December 19 2018 @ 10:46 pm ACDT

Guildford Crows joining Southern England's footy flock

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Continuing the explosive growth of new clubs in England, the Guildford Crows are warming up for the 2010 season, and are on the lookout for friendly matches against other southern clubs to get underway.

Located around halfway between London and England's south coast, Guildford is the traditional centre of County Surrey and is only a few kilometers from the town of Woking, which was home to the old BARFL's Thames Valley Magpies in the early 1990s.

Leading the Crows is Tom Drake, a Briton who discovered Australian rules football while traveling in Australia, joined the Aberdeen Dingoes while studying in Scotland, and went on to represent the Scotland twice in 2009.

Drake says that although he'd heard of Australian rules football, he didn't really know anything about it until traveling in Australia in 2008. "I was introduced to the game by a friend. We went to a few Crows games and a couple of kicks in the park later I was hooked."

"When I started university in Aberdeen I saw a recruitment poster for a local Aussie Rules team starting up. It was great to learn the game from experienced Australians and the fact that most of the players were also beginners made the transition into the team very smooth. That year we went on to win our first trophy and I was proud to represent Scotland on two occassions. These experiences have been great as I think that I can take the positives and things that worked well from Aberdeen and employ them with the Guildford Crows."

"There are clubs in London and clubs on the south coast, but not much in between. As Guildford lies approximately halfway between the two I saw an oppurtunity to found a new club that can receive backing from the local community and also reduce travel."

As to the significance of the Crows moniker, Drake explains that it's actually because a Crow features on Guildford's coat of arms, though the Adelaide connection is a bonus. "It's not significant on the coat nor is it really significant to the town itself - but I am an Adelaide Crows fan and that sealed the deal! I have been in contact with Adelaide Football Club who have placed an article about us on their website which was great for publicity. We've received good wishes from plenty of Crows fans in Australia!"

"Other southern clubs are very keen to get a friendly in sometime this year. I am really impressed with everyones enthusiasm for the game and the advice I have received from other club Presidents. Portsmouth especially were very keen in getting a friendly as soon as possible down at their place. Unfortunately the Crows were not strong enough, not enough players at that point, but I am hoping to have this arranged at a time to suit in the near future."

Drake has around fifteen players at present, although recruitment continues. "There is a small core of players, including a couple of Australians. Their experience and advice that they pass on to the newcomers is greatly appreciated and beneficial for the local lads who are just learning the game."

"The Crows goal for 2010 would be to win a game. This would be a fantastic achievement, as I know that the other southern league teams are very strong and well organised. If we can do this, I'd also like the Crows to host a great day in the summer with a small four team tournament that will provide good facilities, sporting entertainment and of course a few beers after."

Drake says that while the Crows are keen to start playing matches, they most likely won't play a full league fixture until next year. "For 2010, The Crows will be looking for friendly fixtures to get used to the pace and tactics of the game. We can do as much training as we like but we need that vital match experience if we are to succeed. At the present time it would be difficult to field a team week in week out and the last thing I'd want is to let down the other teams. So we will spend our first active year pursuing practice matches to hopefully get our first win."

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Guildford Crows can contact them through their Facebook group.

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