Not only did the Swedish city of Norrtälje just host an excellent Euro Cup for the cream of European footy, but the club from that city – the Norrtälje Dockers – sits in a two way shootout with the Södermalm Blues to take the 2019 SAFF premiership.
At the midway point of the season, the Dockers sit on top of the ladder, percentage ahead of the Blues though with a game up their sleeve pending rescheduling of a previous round match.
The Dockers and Blues have dominated the competition this season and there is little to suggest that the status quo will change ahead of finals in September. The Årsta Swans have struggled on field this season against the top two teams. The Solna Axemen have struggled to get teams on the field in one of their toughest seasons.
Each year football’s highest authorities make changes to rules. This is nothing new, nor is it sinister. Whether it is for safety, aesthetics of the game, improve speed of the game, selling a wholesome package to parents of kids, keeping sponsors happy or…God Forbid!...just plain common sense, rules will always be reviewed and changed.
This is NOT the fault of umpires – though they take most of the heat for doubtful decisions. This is an issue of rules and always has been. It just appears that the levels of frustration amongst fans is now higher than previous years.
But that doesn’t help the purists on the couch, at the game or even on the field when some changes just make no practical sense. To that end, here are some of my most contentious rule changes, either because I don’t personally agree, they are frustrating for spectators or they are simply useless.
The 2019 Euro Cup saw 16 national teams travel to Norrtajle, Sweden for Europe’s major 9-a-side competition. Under clear blue skies, 68 matches took place across five different pitches to crown the 2019 Euro Cup winners.
With over 350 players as well as coaches, team staff, volunteers, umpires, family and friends, the Norrtajlie Sportcentrum was packed out by the AFL Europe community with a great turnout from the locals.
It all came down to the two Grand Finals which saw England and Ireland go head to head in both the men’s and women’s finals.
With the Danish footy season in a small mid-season recess, there is time to review what had happened in the DAFL in 2019 and what might yet happen. Leading the discussion is a revitalised Odense Lions team already on track for finals and potentially their most successful season yet.
With seven rounds down and just six to go, some patterns are already appearing. The Farum Cats hold top sport with four wins, holding off the Port Malmo Maulers and Odense Lions on three wins apiece. The Copenhagen Giants are in the top four ahead of the so far winless Aalborg Kangaroos.
The Cats are undefeated and face the prospect of keeping things that way, having asserted their dominance with big wins against their nearest rivals – the Maulers and Lions.
With just four rounds remaining in Germany’s AFLG competition, it is becoming glaringly apparent that last year’ premiers the Hamburg Dockers are primed to hold the title in 2019. Two games clear at the top of the ladder and undefeated, the Dockers appear to have all challengers covered.
With three games left – two against the Berlin Crocs and one against the Frankfurt Redbacks – it seems likely that only a huge upset from here will see them lose a game before the finals. The Dockers have downed each so far this season, though not by big margins.
The Frankfurt Redbacks held the lead for most of their match against the Dockers in Round 5 before being run down in the final quarter. Similarly, the Berlin Crocs kept the game tied up to half time before the Dockers grabbed the ascendency later in the game. Both teams have fought hard, but in the end, the Dockers had their measure.
After one of the most exciting finishes to a CNFA season, with four teams locked together on wins, then two memorable semi-finals, grand final day ended up being an anti-climax. With poor weather washing out the big match between the Paris Cockerels and the Stade Toulousain A teams in Lyon, the league awaits a rescheduled date – likely now in September.
The month of June saw the combatants arrive at finals time locked in a near photo-finish. The ALFA Lions took the minor premiership by percentage from both the Paros Cockerels and the Paris Cockatoos. Just ten percent separated first from third, each team with five wins for the season. After a rattling finish to the season, Stade Toulousain A also finshed with five wins and the best percentage of all teams. They missed top spot, however, due to a forfeit earlier in the season.
Maybe I grew up in another era. On the other hand, perhaps I just had very good coaches when I was a kid. However, in my junior footy days down in Victoria, kicking with both feet was simply expected by coaches. We were encouraged to use our stronger preferred foot to cover ground and maybe for pinpoint accuracy. Nevertheless, all of my team-mates back then could kick with both feet.
It amazes me, then, that the following article by Callum Twomey at www.afl.com.au raises such an issue. Moreover, the fact that it unearths different types of thinking on the subject at the highest levels is a surprise to me – someone who would use the “Bradmanesque” (hitting a golf ball with a stick thousands of times to improve skills) style training by kicking either foot in the backyard to get better on my unnatural left foot.
Dad told me that if I was ever going to be a good footballer I would have to learn that skill. The most simple premise was that the time wasted trying to manoeuvre onto my preferred foot gave the opposition time to catch me or impact my kick – the opposite foot gave me more options and a full 180 degree arc to use the ball in.
When Majak Daw was rookie-listed by North Melbourne back in 2010, he kicked open the door for other players from African nation backgrounds to follow. Born in Khartoum, Sudan and a refugee to Egypt before travelling with his family to Australia, Majak became the first AFL player of Sudanese origin.
In his wake, others like Aliir Aliir (Kenya to Sydney Swans) and Mabior Chol (South Sudan to Richmond) play senior AFL football now. Others have been and gone, and some still wait in the wings – other players of African nation descent want to follow. However, all owe a debt of gratitude to Majak Daw the trailblazer.
This is what makes his accident last December so profound. When emergency services rescued Majak from the base of the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, with a broken pelvis and hip, it seemed his playing days may be over – at least at the elite level.
Probably not what Paul McCartney meant when he wrote this song back in the late 1960’s, but the title certainly fits the journey for the Tyne Tees Tigers, now in their second full season as a part of the AFL Scotland landscape.
Currently, the Tigers sit just behind the reigning premiers, the Edinburgh Bloods in second place on the SARFL ladder. Four wins from five starts this season has been by far the best performance for the Newcastle-based team since their inception back in back in 2012. They spent two years playing social matches before gaining full membership status in the AFLCNE for the 2014 season.
Like most clubs, the early days featured some horrendous hidings, interspersed with some exciting wins – enough wins to keep belief and set a longer-term course.
The 2019 Euro Cup, held in Norrtalje, Sweden on the weekend, crowned the England Dragonslayers as the men’s champions and once again the Irish Banshees as women’s champions. The tournament is the showcase of European Aussie Rules, and the standard of matches across the day upheld that status.
For the Dragonslayers, this was their fifth Euro Cup win after back to back titles in Prague (2008) and Samobor (2009, Croatia), Bordeaux in 2013 and 2017. This was also the fourth title for the Irish Banshees, including a back-to-back performance after winning last year in Cork.
The men’s draw saw the traditional powerbrokers – England, Ireland, Croatia and Germany – joined by France, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and host nation Sweden. But the most compelling aspect of the draw was the growing number of developing nations with Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Israel each sending teams.
Legendary former Hawthorn superstar, Cyril Rioli, will return to the game in an assistant coaching role for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL). After his seemingly sudden retirement from the highest level of footy during the 2018 season.
Since then there has been wide speculation as to whether Rioli would return to Hawthorn, return to footy in Darwin or simply remain retired and use his experience behind the scenes. The Tiwi Bombers are delighted that Rioli has chosen to link with the club that hails from his home islands – the Tiwi Islands – north of Darwin.
Rioli, who remained on the islands until he was eight years old, moved to Darwin and then by age 14 was boarding at Scotch College in Melbourne until being drafted by Hawthorn in 2008. Since then, a legend grew – four premierships, a Norm Smith medal, three All-Australian selections, 189 games and 275 goals (some the most memorable in AFL history).
The following story by Hamish McLachlan, printed in the NT News this week, highlights the incredibly difficult journey of indigenous footballers, as recently as just 25 years ago.
In fact, in my own position coaching here in Cairns, North Queensland, I can say with certainty that the racism highlighted by former St Kilda star and media personality Gilbert McAdam, still exists amongst sections of communities. This story is important reading for the focus it brings to a topic that is too often treated with lip service, and at worst, ignored.
I was listening to David Letterman and Barack Obama talking about racism recently. Letterman said, “We can define racism. But we can’t explain it”.
The former US President responded with something like, “People come up with all sorts of reasons to try and put themselves over others, but biologically, there is no reality to racism — we made it up — but over time it manifests itself in very concrete ways and becomes a social reality, with very real impacts”.