The thing with four team competitions – and only a small amount of rounds – is that seasons can be defined quite early. The AFL Middle East competition goes into that mode with Round 3 today, marking the halfway point of the 2018/19 season. If the favourites for each match wins, it will be difficult to see major changes prior to finals.
However, conversely, the beauty of such competitions is that favourites don’t always win. In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi tomorrow, underdogs have the chance to turn the completion on its head.
Last round, the Abu Dhabi Falcons were desperately unlucky to lose to top team, the Dubai Dragons. Outplayed early, the Falcons rattled home to lose to the reigning champions by just two points, raising the issue of what might have been with four quarters of footy. At home again this round, the Falcons have the chance to show what could be when they take on the Multiplex Bulls. The Bulls will start favourites after their last start win against the Dingoes, but the Falcons will be primed to play four quarters and steam a win.
There are many doubters and naysayers about Australian Football outside of Australia. That's a given. Most people I speak to have little idea of what is going on in New Zealand and glibly suggest all AFL ventures there to be a waste of time. However, 2 months back, Mitch Powell and Louis Herman-Watt in their edition number 28 of their 'Stoked Podcast' via the NZHerald had the task of reviewing the sporting week.
Mitch Powell watched and reviewed the AFL Grand Final and had the following very interesting revelations to make:
Over the past five years, the Manchester Mozzies have dominated the AFLCNE competition with five consecutive premierships. Yet, in that time they had not won the silverware for their end of season tournament – the Movember Cup. However, that all changed on November 25th when the Mozzies outlasted the Wandsworth Demons from London by a goal. In the women’s draw, the Nottingham Scorpions downed the Birmingham University united team.
The Movember Cup has been played since 2011 in honour of former Manchester Mozzies premiership player Nathan Blakely. Blakely played in the Mozzies maiden premiership in 2010, but passed away the following year. The Nathan Blakely Memorial Cup (Movember Cup) has been played in all but one year since with the aim of raising money for cancer. This year, more than 1000 pounds was raised on the day through donations and other fund-raising.
A few weeks ago, the Palmerston Magpies were riding a wave of optimism. On the back of consecutive wins, the Magpies sat with three wins and three losses and a place in the top five. Since then, however, their fortunes have dipped markedly, and their 111-point hiding today to the Southern Districts Crocs has been the worst of three consecutive losses which have derailed their season.
The Crocs were awesome and relentless. A fifteen goal first half decided the game, putting the Magpies out of winning contention and setting up a dangerous second half for the ‘Pies. The second half wasn’t as damaging, and could have been better for Palmerston had they kicked straight. But one goal and twelve behinds for the second half killed off any reasonable hope of a fightback.
The second round of the National University League was played out yesterday at Oxford University, and the locals made every post a winner to head the league’s ladder after two completed rounds. The round featured the Universities Of South Wales teams for the first time, whilst the Birmingham University had the bye.
Arch rivals, Cambridge University, had a grand day out to win both men’s and women’s matches and go to the top of the women’s division ladder.
The following results and story are from the National University League Facebook page:
Round 2 Recap:
Oxford made it two wins from two on home soil to move to the top of the Men's Division. Cambridge got their first win of the NUL season as the Universities of South Wales made their debut in the competition.
In one of the tensest matches of the CNFA season to date, the Paris Cockatoos have outlasted a gallant ALFA Lions after a thrilling match in Lyon. In a game that could have gone to either team, it was the Cockatoos that came from behind to steal the match.
The Lions got the better of a tight opening quarter, holding on to a three point quarter-time lead. They were able to extend that lead to a handy 15 points at the main break and would have to just hold back the tide.
However, the Cockatoos were not done with and produced a strong third quarter to grab the lead – only just – and put the pressure squarely back on the Lions. Whilst the Cockatoos lead was only five points, it was the momentum shift that spoke the loudest with effectively a five goal to one quarter being the drive for a big last quarter.
In one of the widest nets for players across Great Britain, with the inclusion of players from the Australian Rules Football National University League, the GB Bulldogs initial training squad has been released. Featuring 53 players from 17 clubs and 6 leagues (including one player from the London GAA), the squad will come together over coming months to train with a final squad to be announced next year for the AFL Europe Championship and beyond.
The squad features players from the SARFL (Scotland), WARFL (Wales), AFL London, AFLCNE (Australian Football League Central & Northern England), National University League and London CAA. Below are the players selected:
Ireland’s West Clare Waves have completed a remarkable year to ensconce themselves as possibly the best women’s football team in Europe – and possibly the best outside of Australia – by winning the 2018 Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership. In a relatively short time, the Waves have grown from a group of women interested in playing the game to a powerhouse setting new benchmarks for other women to follow.
This report from the West Clare Waves’ Facebook page looks at their triumph and also recaps a short but decorated journey since last year.
Premiership Champions -
“What a day in Islandbridge, Dublin yesterday as West Clare Waves won the first ever Grand Final of the Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women's Premiership in association with the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce and The Australian Embassy.”
France is about to become one of the premier women’s football nations in Europe with the announcement of the 2019 Coupe Gallia tournament in Paris next March. With women’s football growing quickly and in large numbers across Europe, the CNFA (the French governing body for Australian football) has taken the initiative to grow the women’s game further.
The following media advice from the Paris Cocks Footy Facebook page states:
“The Paris Cockerelles are delighted to announce that they will be hosting the 2019 Coupe Gallia on March 9th. This is the first 100% all female tournament in Europe for Australian Rules football.”
“Created by the French Australian Rules Football association (CNFA) in 2017, the purpose is to be inclusive, to showcase the skills of female players and to give women more opportunities to play this great game that we love. The tournament takes place the day after International Women’s day. All female clubs are welcome.
After a start to the season they would happily forget, Wanderers pulled off the upset of Round 8 when they defeated the Darwin Buffaloes at TIO Stadium. Going into the match, Wanderers had just one win whilst the Buffaloes sat within the top three. But Wanderers ignored that to record a memorable win. Across the weekend, the Tigers downed the Magpies, the Bombers were too good for Waratah and the Crocs defeated St Mary’s.
Wanderers got away to the ideal start, gaining a 15-point advantage by the first change and instilling belief into their players and fans. It was the platform for a huge second quarter where they dominated the Buffaloes across the ground to rattle on another six goals and hold a big 41-point half time lead. The Buffaloes were always going to fight back, and they turned on a five goal to two third quarter, but still trailed by 22 points. The game was winnable, but Wanderers smelled blood and held back the tide to hold on by 10 points in a huge game for the club.
It has to be said that the Bordeaux Bombers have always played to their best when at home. This has always made them a formidable opponent for all visiting teams. Nevertheless, when the reigning premiers go down to the Bombers, it is a significant event, and a significant upset.
It can always be argued that road trips are always at the mercy of how many of a squad (and who) can make the journey. But that problem occurs for all teams across the season – games still have to be won on the day, and that is what the Bordeaux Bombers did. They played a brand of football which saw their nine players better than their opposition across four quarters.
Bordeaux got away to a good start and by half time had already moved out to a 25-point lead. Not an unassailable lead – especially for a team stocked with as much talent and the Cockerels – but it did mean that the Paris team had to outscore the Bombers by more than four goals in the second half, and that would prove a tough ask for any team.
Charlie Hall found a nugget of gold in a creek near the site of a town that now bears his name in the Kimberley region of Western Australia’s far north. Further east, but still in the far north, Cairns became a port that would, in part, service the gold discoveries on the Hodgkinson River goldfields and later across the Tablelands. In both locations, gold discoveries led directly to their settlement and development.
By the 2010’s, a different kind of AFL gold is being discovered and sought by AFL clubs and this season’s national draft brought that notion clearly into focus as both locations provided clubs with yet more young talent.
By road, Cairns is around 3000 kilometres from the footballing Mecca of Melbourne. Halls Creek is even further away – about 4300 kilometres by road. Neither is in the backyard of Melbourne, nor any other state capital. Yet by way of recruiters, scouts, word of mouth and social media – word gets around about precociously talented kids. Many leave home for the cities to either further educations or improve their chances to play big time footy. It’s working.