In recent years, write-ups about the run of Manchester premierships has always had a thinly veiled subtext that suggested that they might be reaching the end of their run of success. Well, if that’s true, it hasn’t happened yet. On the weekend, the Manchester Mozzies claimed their sixth successive AFLCNE premiership.
If they weren’t already in rarefied air worldwide after five flags, six in a row takes them to an even higher place.
The Mozzies downed a gallant Wolverhampton Wolverines team – themselves playing in their maiden grand-final. Despite the best that the Wolverines could throw, the Mozzies won comfortably by 52 points. According to the club, however, the game was much closer than the scoreboard suggested.
With Irish footballers making more and more of an impact on our game of Aussie Rules football, it stands to reason that maybe the cross-pollination of skills might go both ways. It is expected that the Irish players learn and develop the necessary skills to play the game. But Essendon's Conor McKenna might well have introduced a new skills to the game, familiar to fellow Irish players, but possibly a skill of the future that others may employ.
The "solo" in this clip, performed by McKenna on Friday night in Adelaide as the Bombers downed the Adelaide Crows, brought the football world to their collective feet.
The Northern Tigers have taken out the St Petersburg Cup in Russian this weekend, outlasting both the Moscow Bears and the Baltic Hawks. The opening two matches featured the Baltic Hawks playing both the Tigers and the Bears before the final match that featured the intercity rivalry – St Petersburg up against Moscow.
The first match saw the Hawks take on the Bears. The Baltic team held a narrow three point lead at half time. Things were still tight in the second half but the Hawks held on to win by seven points. Martin Sorokhan kicked two goals for the Hawks, whilst Daniel Demain and Brad Lougheed kicked two apiece for the Bears.
The SARFL match of the round this weekend featuring the Tyne Tees Tigers and Kingdom Kangaroos has resulted in a draw at the Tigers’ home ground in Newcastle.
It was a tight match all day in Newcastle, with little separating the teams at each break. The Tigers got away to a four point break by the first change, but by half time the Kangaroos had bounced back to hold a five point lead. It would all come down to whichever team could take advantage of the second half.
A three goal third quarter from the Tigers saw them go into the final break with an eight point buffer, but the Kangaroos were made of stern stuff and would fight back.
In recent years footy has continued to gather momentum in Russia. Due in no small part to the growth in St Petersburg, Moscow is also growing. Not only are there now three teams to compete in the next St Petersburg Cup next weekend, the national team had a terrific Euro Cup – their best yet.
Despite losing all of their pool games, the Russian Bears caught fire in the finals. They downed both Israel and Czech Republic in the finals matches before going down in a tough game to Scotland to finish in overall 10th places – a wonderful achievement.
That performance may not have happened if not for the improvement in competitions, recruitment and overall development of the game across the two Russian cities.
After the completion of Round 7 in the AFLG competition, the Hamburg Dockers sit comfortably in the penthouse. It would take some sort of minor miracle for them to NOT win the minor premiership with just two matches to play and they are two games and percentage clear in first place.
The view from there is awesome. In the not too blurry distance is the chance at back-to-back premierships. On the lower floors, the other teams jostle for their final finishing places. The top four is decided, if not the order. Fifth place (Dresden Wolves) is a lock. They will finish fifth almost regardless of what happens from here. The only real change is if the Zuffenhausen Giants can win a game and leapfrog the Rheinland Lions to get off the bottom of the ladder, or, if you like, the basement.
It is wrong to say that the influx of players from African countries is an “experiment” in the same way that the influx of Irish is sometimes referred to as the “Irish Experiment”. It certainly isn’t. The increase in players of African descent is a result of Australian Rules football embracing the changing nature of our population and more players with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds will continue to grow.
That said, it is very interesting to see what is occurring with players in the AFL/VFL environment who come from Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other African nations. For the purpose of this story, players who were born in Australia but parents were born in their African country of origin are included – but not an exhaustive list.
There is s small but growing thread of evidence to say that players from African nations could become the archetypal ruckman of the future. Here is some proof.
With just six rounds left of the AFL season, then finals, the time for trade, drafts and all other recruiting is fast approaching. Marc McGowan from the www.afl.com.au website reports on another battle looming as Essendon and Richmond lead the charge to access some exciting Irish talent.
Essendon and Richmond are in a two-way race for the pick of this year's Irish crop.
Ross McQuillan has emerged as the most coveted Irishman from the 2018 AFL Europe Combine, and joined countrymen Ronan Devereux, Peadar Mogan and Luke Towey in trialling with clubs in April.
The 20-year-old is a good athlete, clocked a blistering 2.77sec in winning the 20m sprint at the combine, thrives on physicality and is already showing promise with his kicking on both sides.
In 2017, AFL Scotland’s newest team – the West Lothian Eagles – played a full season of development games against all other league teams. Not for points, but to develop their skills and plans against their future rivals. Last year was their first season as a fully integrated team and they enjoyed a winless but competitive season.
This season they have waited, developed and learned further and finally broken through for their first win as a fully-fledged AFL Scotland team – downing the Kingdom Kangaroos by 30 points. The excitement was palpable, even on the club’s Facebook page.
“What a day for the club. Our first ever league victory.”
“It's been a tough year so far being on the wrong side of a few thumpings from teams at the level we aspire to be. A couple of narrow defeats as well which sometimes can hurt more.”
Earlier this year World Footy News released a story looking at how the northern city would cope, in a footy sense, having lost their annual AFL match which they had held since 2011. Over that time, eight matches were played at Cazalys Stadium featuring the Gold Coast Suns, Richmond, Western Bulldogs and most recently North Melbourne.
This was in addition to a VFL match between the Suns and Bendigo Bombers in 2010 and pre-season cup matches stretching back to the turn of the century.
Our story featured interviews with past players from VFL/AFL days who either played, coached or officiated in Cairns – former Blue and Bulldog, Max O’Halloran, Collingwood great Ronnie Wearmouth, recent Essendon player Courtenay Dempsey and current Suns’ star Jack Bowes. (See Cairns Footy Still A Shining Light)
The following article from Josh Roche at www.afl.com.au looks a little deeper at the lead-up to the recent Euro Cup played in Norrtälje, Sweden. People involved appreciate how much work goes into staging an event of this size and scale. But this story highlights to what lengths some people have gone to in ensuring everything needed was found.
“No goalposts - No problem, our captain is a lumberjack”. Four footy ovals, no goalposts, one Swedish lumberjack. Game on.
AFL Europe held its annual nine-a-side tournament in Norrtälje, Sweden last weekend, and a couple of weeks out, four of the ovals were missing goalposts.
Enter Buster Sund, the Swedish Elks captain and a handy axeman off the field (he also hunts moose in his spare time, because Sweden).
Marc McGowan from www.afl.com.au reports here on the measures being employed by AFL clubs to keep the performances of prospective Irish AFL recruits under tabs. With players like Zac Tuohy, Conor McKenna and Pearce Hanley well established on AFL club lists, and many others in the earlier stages of their careers, Irish recruiting is becoming a far more scientific and targeted enterprise.
AFL SCOUTS in Australia are remotely watching Irish prospects train as international recruiting becomes increasingly sophisticated.
The preference is for them to use Gaelic footballs in 'small-sided' games, which involve four players against four, with recruiters most interested in everything but how they kick a Sherrin.
Ex-Magpie Marty Clarke, who accepted a part-time role with the AFL last year, spearheads Ireland's development program, which sees about 30 young Gaelic footballers meet monthly.