In a footy world where some leagues have been dominated by particular clubs over long periods of time (think Paris Cockerels, Manchester Mozzies, Dubai Dragons), it is refreshing to see a competition that still sits on a razor’s edge after 17 years. The biggest match in China has been the China Cup between the Beijing Bombers and Shanghai Tigers since 2003.
Last weekend, the Bombers downed the Tigers by a whopping 101 points. It was a surprise result in that the margin was unexpected. However, the result also brought the rivalry even closer as little now separates the two teams over the life of the cup.
Heading into the final match of 2019, the Tigers held a 7 to 6 series lead since 2003. With the Bombers winning last weekend’s match, and the Tigers winning earlier in the year, the wnnner for 2019 is still to be determined. If the result comes down to goal difference over the matches, the 101 point win will see the Bombers crowned 2019 champions and a seven all series tally.
If you thought that the Dubai Dragons’ reign as a power would end with their loss to the Multiplex Bulls in last season’s Grand Final, think again. Rather than ceding their title as the greatest and handing over to a new era of the Bulls, the Dubai Dragons have sent a new message. The past is the past – the future is us.
The eyes of the AFL Middle East world were firmly fixed on Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi for the Round 1 fixtures to kick off the new season. The hosts were up first against the Dubai Dingoes, but the match with the most talking points was second up with the Dubai Dragons tackling the Multiplex Bulls.
In a tight match for the first half, both sides threw their all at each other for scores to be level at the main break. An arm-wrestle between past and present powers was underway for the audience to see. However, a four goal to two third quarter for the Dragons gave them wriggle room and they were able to take that further with another five goals to one in the final term.
Recently established Mongolian Wolves and AFL Japan GO League club, Osaka Dingoes had organised a special match to gain experiences and to enjoy the Australian Rules for both sides.
It was held on Saturday, 19 October 2019 at Izumi Sports Village in the wider Osaka Region. The match was the first competing one for the visitor in their history.
Rain had poured the previous night and occasionally on the game day. The game started at 5.20 pm with wet conditions in a soccer pitch with artificial grasses.
Wolves with experienced players (their average age is 42) and Dingoes with mixed in ages, heights and nationalities played close at first quarter. Both sides attacked and defended, and scored three goals each other. The visitor led by one point at the first break.
Sometimes clubs die. That is an inevitability, just like businesses closing their doors. Economics, geography, changing populations, competition and even climate can conspire to cause clubs to gradually fade away until a humane solution is proposed. Put them down. Occasionally the decision is more dramatic, but more often than not, it is a slow death.
Sometimes clubs call their own end. Other times, the pressure comes from leagues, business connections or other powers calling shots. However, it doesn’t really matter where the call comes from. Once the club is finished, a hole is left behind.
On occasions, communities find ways to fill that hole and move on. Often, however, that hole cannot adequately be plugged and the communities that surround that club suffer.
The rumoured return of Cyril Rioli for the Tiwi Bombers did not eventuate, but the club still enjoyed a successful and exciting weekend with their first win of the season. Maybe the Bombers won’t need Cyril Rioli after all.
After two losses – as it turns out, to the teams now first and second on the ladder - the Bombers set about changing things and hammered on ten first quarter goals as the St Mary’s team looked on in awe. What should have already been a match-winning lead, however, was evaporated over the next two quarters as the Saints rallied strongly and had grabbed a narrow lead by the final change, having rattled on 14 goals of their own after quarter time.
However, the Bombers rallied when they needed it most and kicked five goals to two in a strong finish to defeat St Mary’s by 8 points. The win restored some order for the Bombers, whilst at the same time bring the Saints back to earth after winning their opening two matches.
The new French footy season got under way this weekend with matches in Paris and Toulouse. Whilst two of the results were not surprising, one was down in Toulouse. On paper, the Paris Cockerels, Paris Cockatoos and Bayonne Toreadors were first round winners. However, the games had more to say than that.
The Paris Cockerels were hosting the newcomers, the Antony Blues. It is unlikely that the Blues could find a harder initiation, yet they kept the Cockerels honest all day. The final margin was 40 points, yet that does not do Antony justice.
The Cockerels led by just a point at the first break after both teams kicked five goals. By the half-time break the Cockerels led by twenty points, but still hadn’t shaken the Blues off. Going into the final term, 30 points separated the teams and the Cockerels scrapped to edge further ahead by the final siren.
In another historic first for footy in Asia, the newest footy nation, Mongolia, have already gathered enough talent and numbers to undertake a journey to Japan to play the Osaka Dingoes. The two will be playing this weekend for the prestigious “Canine Cup” in the first of what is hoped will be a long tradition of games.
It is a massive undertaking for the travelling wolves to head as a team to Japan, but there would be a groundswell of confidence that the move will not just be successful in its own right, but open the door to continued growth of the game in Mongolia. The chance to create more international “friendlies” will become more real.
The Chilean champions, the Santiago Saints, have caused an upset of sorts by downing the titleholders – the Bogota Bulldogs – to win this year’s Andes Cup. The match, played for the first time outside of either competing team’s country, was played in Lima, Peru.
The Bogota Bulldogs acknowledged the Saints’ win on their Facebook page. “A huge felicidades to the Santiago Saints AFC for winning their first Andes Cup. We were pumped to field a majority non-Australian team for the first time and to have our Wujeres play with the commitment and passion we’ve come to expect from the doggies. Let’s hope both clubs continue to grow the great game in South America and we make it a little more competitive next time.”
The following article from AFL Europe reviews last week’s European Championships played at Wimbledon, London, for supremacy in the 18-per side format. The Irish Banshees were remarkable, not being scored against in any match, including the grand final. The Bulldogs were also too good for all opposition as they claimed back-to-back titles.
After three days of thrilling football, it all came down to the women’s and men’s Grand Final’s on Saturday afternoon to decide the winners of the 2019 European Championships. In the women’s final, it was the Irish Banshees against the German Eagles, while the men’s draw saw the Danish Vikings battle the Great Britain Bulldogs.
Word seeping out of Darwin suggests that a Hawthorn and, AFL and Northern Territory legend might be making a comeback…if not this weekend, maybe soon after.
Seems an inevitability, but Cyril Rioli might once again weave his magic on the football field when he possibly lines up for the Tiwi Bombers tomorrow in their NTFL Premier League match against St Marys. Only months after being announced as an assistant coach for the Bombers, the club’s winless start to the season has given rise to a possible Rioli revival.
Before his stellar career with Hawthorn, Rioli was a Tiwi Bombers junior. It has been a long journey since then, and is now coming full circle. Rioli is expected to don the #44 jumper for the Bombers
The appearance of the Polish Devils in Norrtälje, Sweden, for this year’s Euro Cup was exciting. That excitement, and a growing sense of permanence, grew further when the team arrived in Tallinn, Estonia to compete in the Baltic Cup.
This newest Polish Australian Football team is shaping as a far more resilient model than previous attempts in Poznan in 2011 (Bisons) and Bydgoszcz in 2015 (Cats) or any other forays. However, when this project is driven by Roger Scott, the man responsible to helping drive the earlier days of footy in Russia, it would be no surprise that he would be seeking big things. Roger is co-founder of AFL Polska as well as head coach of the Devils.