Contributed by: Aaron Richard
This year's International Cup sees two debutant sides squaring off in this Friday's Division 2 Grand Final - the high-flying German Eagles and the uncompromising Croatian Knights.
For both sides, it's been a long time in the making, with over 10 years since the beginnings of domestic footy in Croatia and around 20 years in Germany.
We take a look at the history of the two countries' footy scenes, with some of the stories featuring them on WFN over the years. In Part 2, we look back at some of the stories out of Germany back since the founding of this news site.
2004: In the year our site was founded, the German footy scene had consisted of only two clubs (Frankfurt and Munich) for almost a decade, but growth was starting with new clubs springing up in Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Berlin and a national championship being held. Germany hosted the Central European championships, finishing third behind Belgium and Spain.
2004 Season Review - Australian Football League Germany
Growth for Central Europe
2005: The Frankfurt Redbacks received the "Medal of Honour" from their home city, as recognition for winning the 2004 German championships. A five-team national league season saw. Germany was looking like a new growth area with plenty of potential.
AFL Germany 2005 Draw Released
Frankfurt Redbacks awarded Medal of Honour
A story probably worth a separate mention was a long discussion with German footy pioneer Malte Schudlich, including some of the reasons why the Germans at that point were not planning on heading to the International Cup anytime soon.
Germany - potential powerhouse of European footy?
2006: The Germans made their first foray into full-field international rep footy, competing in a tri-series against Denmark and Sweden. Although they lost to both, the seeds were sown. The AFLG added French club Strasbourg, from just across the border. In the following year 2007, the same tri-series was held, with the Danes against thumping Germany, but the Germans breaking through to defeat Sweden in their first victory in 16-a-side footy. AFLG premiers for 2007 were the Rheinland Lions - notable as both the Lions' first premiership, but also the first AFLG premiership side to consist of a majority of native German players. In this year, the EU Cup also was hosted by Hamburg,
Denmark Wins Inaugural Tri-Nations Series
Strasbourg Black Devils join the AFL Germany for 2006
Germany claim first international victory
Rheinland Lions win their first-ever German premiership
EU Cup preview 2007
2008: The Stuttgart Emus were founded, bringing footy to the south-west of the country. On the international front, the Germans played a small-field test against France. Germany finished third at the EU Cup, held in Prague.
Sweden defeat Germany for EU Cup
France vs Germany coming up, Coupe de France set for July
England defeat Croatia to take out the EU Cup
2009: Germany hosted the Finland Icebreakers for an international clash in Cologne, with the Eagles emerging victorious by 37 points. They also held a 10-a-side match against the Czech Lions in Mitteleschenbach near Nürnberg. In the AFLG, the Rheinland Lions made it three premierships in a row.
Germany defeat Finland in First International Test for 2009
Black Eagles to face the first (almost) all-local Czech Lions in Historic Test
Rheinland Lions go Back-to-Back-to-Back in Germany
2010: With the first full-field European Championships being held in Denmark and southern Sweden, the Germans headed north. The Germans battled hard, but lost to Ireland and Sweden, then to Croatia (the Knights' first ever international victory). Some face was salvaged with a win over Finland in the 7th place playoff.
Germany ready to take on Europe's best
Host Nations secure top 4 finish in EC2010
Croatia upset Germany to score first-ever win
European Championships - Final Round Scores
2011: The Germans travelled to Paris to take on the Coqs in France's first 18-a-side international. The Germans were 64-point victors on the day. In 2012 Kate O'Halloran came onboard with WFN to write another article on the history of footy in Germany.
German Black Eagles squad named for test vs France
France makes 18-a-side debut, but Germans too strong
AFLG growing towards the future
2013: We saw some first steps taken in creating a metro league in the Stuttgart area, the Baden-Württemberg AFL. The German national team came up against Denmark, but were soundly defeated. They regained some pride by defeating France in Berlin later in the year, but in the European Championships ended up finishing in 6th (last) place, losing the 5th place playoff to Croatia.
On the domestic level, the Hamburg Dockers broke through for their first German premiership.
Local footy in Baden-Württemberg - The Newcomers and League Overview
World Rankings - Vikings hammer down Germany
Germany thumps France in warmup for Dublin
Hamburg Dockers break through for maiden German premiership
AFL European Championships - Finals
2014 and 2015 saw consolidation in Germany. Clubs from Ludwigsburg, Freiberg and Dresden joined the competition, with the game slowly spreading to new cities. Hamburg again took out the premiership in 2015.
Hamburg Edges Munich For German Premiership German Footy Gathers Steam in 2016
2016: The Munich Roos regained the title of German premiers, soundly defeating Berlin in the Grand Final. Germany travelled to the European Championships, having its best performance to date - defeating Sweden in the playoff for 3rd.
Munich Kangaroos Take AFL Germany Title
Black Eagles and Swans Soar, Bulldogs Bite - World Rankings post EC16
2017: As I said in the timeline of Croatia's development - here we are!! Germany's track record stretches back decades, so it's maybe surprising we haven't seen them at an IC until now.
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