International footy fans often feel deprived of seeing quality football footage. One website worth keeping your eye on is the BigpondTV site. It has wrap ups of games each week, but in particular as an Adelaide fan my attention was drawn by a highlights package dedicated to the Crows' retiring skipper Mark Ricciuto. The decorated captain played in over 300 games, was All-Australian an amazing eight times, played in one premiership (in 1998, having missed the 1997 flag through injury), won three Malcolm Blight medals as Adelaide's club champion and shared the 2003 Brownlow Medal with Nathan Buckley and Adam Goodes. Missing most of this year through injury, Roo has decided that 2007 will be his last season, ending his career at age 32. Other champions expected to finish this year are Essendon's James Hird, Collingwood's Nathan Buckley and North Melbourne's Glen Archer, though the latter two are yet to confirm a decision either way. Carlton's Greek (and Italian) Adonis, Anthony Koutoufides, has already played his last game, succumbing to a hip injury which has cut his last season short.
Ricciuto's greatest asset was perhaps his leadership and ability to maintain a very high standard over so many years - something which has made the last two seasons of injuries all the more frustrating. Of particular interest in the video is the degree to which it unintentionally demonstrates how much the game has changed in recent years. A lot of the spectacular big hits and strong body marks that were often a feature of his game just a few years ago are now outlawed. It seems we won't ever see the likes of him again.
The 1970s - when the Victorian Football League was at best semi-pro, goal umpires donned their long white coats, players wore tight shorts, sported moustaches, and science and footy certainly didn't mix. Warriors without Weapons is a video from 1979 following the pre-season and opening game of the North Melbourne Football Club (before they were pushing the Kangaroos brand and looking headed for Queensland). It can be freely viewed on the ABC website and features some words of wisdom from Aussie Rules legend Ron Barassi - interesting to hear him talk about society becoming softer, something people continue to lament 30 years later. His speech to the players during the match sounds a little dated now - AFL coaches tend to be a little more eloquent in addressing their team, but of course the video has to be viewed in the context of the era in which it was filmed.
This weekend sees two of Europe's strongest Australian Football clubs go head to head across an amazing three grand finals in the dramatic conclusion to the UK regular season. The dominant West London club fields the Wildcats in the BARFL Premiership, Shepherds Bush Raiders in the Conference, and Ealing Emus in the Social League. All three teams made it through to the big one, where they'll be up against Wandsworth's three sides in the Wandsworth Demons, Clapham Demons and South London. Around 1000 fans reportedly turned out for the preliminary final matches, and many more are on the cards for this Saturday.
Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles today against Baltimore Ravens in a preseason game Saverio Rocca went up against incumbent punter Dirk Johnson. Rocca did not have good punts with his first two kicks, but followed up with some big punts after that. He was also the holder for the Eagles' successful field goal attempt.
After a gruelling training camp going head to head, and punt for punt with Johnston there was no clear leader for the position going into this game. But it appears that with Rocca proving that he can hit the big punts under serious match conditions facing the rush, his nose may be just in front for the job. Johnson averaged 43.7 yards with a 41 yard net on his three punts. Sav notched up 48.3 yard gross average and a 39.5 yard net average on his four punts.
And the former Kangaroo forward has made the ESPN highlights packages already. Rocca took a big hit following one of his punts but was quickly up on his knees to see just how far his punt went and was shortly after seen laughing about the hit on the sidelines.
The Eagles have three more preseason games in which Rocca will have the chance to further push his case to become the third Australian punting in the NFL this season along with Matt McBriar and Ben Graham. For the record the Ravens crushed the Eagles 29-3.
The Northern Territory has long had a strong Australian Football culture, although Rugby League has also had solid support there too. Many great stars of Aussie Rules have hailed from Australia's north, in particular many of the top indigenous players. They've often made their way into the state leagues of South Australia (SANFL) and Western Australia (WAFL), before being drafted into the AFL. Prior to the AFL, some did become stars in the VFL, but many didn't make that journey, content to stay in the SANFL or WAFL, which partly explains why indigenous player numbers have increased so dramatically as a percentage of the AFL when compared with the old VFL days. Since Territorians make such a strong contribution to the game there are often calls for an NT team in the AFL one day. This seems a distant dream given economic and population realities, but the logical first step would be to show that a representative club playing in either the SANFL or WAFL is viable. Plans for that have been in the works for several years but the big leap appears to be drawing nearer. There is also talk of Queensland, Tasmanian and NSW moves.
In the latest poll of who's who in USFooty, the San Diego Lions are still rated the number one club stateside, recently defeating the powerhouse Denver Bulldogs in Denver. Baltimore-DC, Chicago United and the Atlanta Kookaburras have all climbed the rankings after recent matches and the Minnesota Freeze have cracked the top 10 for the first time, while the Golden Gate Roos and Milwaukee Bombers have taken a slide. Read on for the full results.
The Reading Kangaroos are a well-established, fairly well travelled UK footy club. Based 40 miles West of London, England, the club has enjoyed success in the BARFL regional league (2 Grand Final wins), the Nordic Sheep Station Cup (3 wins) and has played in Denmark, Sweden, France and the US. This year, the club made the step up to the London Conference, a 16-a-side competition with a 14 Aussie/2 EU player split. Being outside the capital, it’s tough for regional clubs to field anywhere near that number, but it does enable more British players to play against, and learn from, their more experienced Antipodean cousins.
This report from Reading Roos President Adam Bennett.
Tonga has re-advertised its Development Officer position. It offers a unique opportunity to experience life in the Pacific whilst supporting football and helping Tonga prepare for its first International Cup. The successful applicant will work closely with TAFA staff and assist them in implementing a variety of new initiatives, such as programs for women and those with disabilities.
Applicants need to be familiar with Australian football in either a playing or coaching capacity. They need to be motivated, sensitive to differences in culture and competent with computers and the internet. They should also have some skills in sports administration.
The position is for twelve months and begins in March '08. More information can be found here on the TAFA website.
About five months ago Mick Hassett and Marty Staples got together for a kick of the footy in Vientiane, capital of Laos. Since then, the "Lao Elephants" have grown to around 10-15 regular participants at weekly training sessions, with players from Laos, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Norway and the UK.
Armed with plans for a pink jumper featuring a grey elephant logo (an idea which some say may rival Sweden's Landskrona Bulldozers strip for original design), the Elephants are planning their debut international match against neighbours the Vietnam Swans later this year. The Swans played host to a few of the Elephants earlier this year, with seven Laos players joining the Vietnam team for last month's Asian Championships.
Regular readers will recall that the Manchester Mosquitoes were set to host the 2007 Brit Cup, the annual event for British and other EU players to compete purely against each other, but due to flooding the tournament was transferred to London. Kat Conner, the Mozzies' President, explained at the time that the club lost money over the loss of the event after they had gone to great lengths to ensure facilities were in place. Other clubs understand the effort that goes into such preparations and shared Manchester's disappointment. At the time Manchester and at least one other group expressed a hope that something could be arranged later in the season, and this is it.
The club is hosting a carnival from 12 noon on 8th September in Manchester at Turn Moss. Conner explained that the carnival is open to all Aussie Rules team from across the country (and no doubt any from further afield), with entries needed by COB 24th August. So far they have teams from Wales, Scotland, Reading, the British Bulldogs national squad and of course the Mozzies themselves. "It's a 12 a side comp with teams of 18 (6 on the bench), max 8 Aussies per team".
More information will appear on www.manchesteraussierules.com in the next few weeks. Note also that in our Brit Cup story we reported some suggested improvements to the tournament from Wales' Bryce Stone, and said we'd bring you a full report later. Bryce has decided that although those suggestions were meant to be constructive it's probably best to keep them out of the public arena and we will respect that decision.
G'day. Just thought I would make my first post / story. I know I am not overseas, so this is from Australia. I'd like to chat about my local Auskick clinic in Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne.
The historic weekend at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver BC saw the US Freedom take on the Canadian Eagles in what we think is a first for footy - a women's Australian Football international. The weekend actually saw two games between the squads with the Freedom easily taking both matches. Saturday's 2 x 20min game saw the Freedom win 7.7 (49) to 0.0 (0), while Sunday's 4x15min game saw the Freedom go 14.13 (97) to 0.0 (0). For one of the founders of US Women's footy, Kathryn Hogg, it was a great weekend. "It was a big milestone for US Women's footy and for all women's footy in North America. One thing that I am proud of is that with our small pool of players, we were able to get 23 women to commit to playing. Three of them were unable to make the trip due to injuries - Denielle David from Milwaukee, Pernille Christensen from Atlanta, and Karla Mascerena-Pack from Arizona".
Story is now updated with interview with Canada's women's coach Jake Anson.