In March this year we ran a poll on which team would be AFL premiers in 2006. The favourites were West Coast (15%), followed by St Kilda (10%), the Kangaroos (9%), then Sydney and Adelaide (both just under 9%). Not bad tipping, with 3 of the 5 making the second last week of the season - surely the Kangaroos votes were just optimistic fans being hopeful? The upset was Fremantle, with just 4% of the votes.
Now let's see how well our readers predict the winner now it's down to just two teams.
After another big year in which the AFL secured a record TV rights deal, crowds have been the second best on record and teams from across the nation featured in the final eight, it all comes down to Saturday 30th September - AFL Grand Final Day. In a repeat of last year's heart stopper, the Sydney Swans again take on the West Coast Eagles, the minor premier.
Editor: The number of AFL clubs based in Melbourne has long been debated, and indeed there is little opposition to the view that if the VFL had not embraced the national concept, bringing in license fees and extra TV audiences from other states, often with over a century of footy tradition of their own, then many clubs would not have survived. But can they continue to support so many teams, some of which rely on an uneven distribution of funds to stay afloat? The AFL's recent funding announcements make it clear they wish to maintain the 16 clubs. This is a highly emotive topic that is not directly related to international development (though there are some linkages), and is an area WFN has deliberately steered away from. However our intrepid new reporter Ash has now launched headlong into the debate with some controversial views of his own.
In part two of our long range look at the 2008 International Cup we consider which countries might attend for the first time. We also review previous standings and have a stab in the dark at possible finishing order at the next Cup.
It's been an up and down month for resurgent Denmark on the international front recently. A thumping win for the senior team against Germany has been followed by a major surprise in their junior loss to England's Dragonslayers last weekend.
In a story several weeks ago in Western Australia's Sunday Times it was reported that the AFL will look at staging a match, possibly a NAB Cup game, in South Africa in the next two seasons. This will be another significant step in their commitment to the game in that country. The story also mentions previously reported plans to spread the game into Western Cape, and suggests Natal for the first time (actually called Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa).
Brian Dixon is about to begin an ambitious new Aussie Rules crusade across the world. The former Melbourne Football Club champion and founder of the well known Life. Be in it. campaign in Australia has been a driving force in getting footy in South Africa recognised and supported. South Africa remains his number one focus but through his other sporting contacts he has begun exploring options in China, Argentina, India, the Philippines and Cuba. WFN had a chat to Dixon about his work and any useful contacts we could provide.
WFN is run by volunteers to aid the development of international footy. Unfortunately we are struggling to cope with technical issues that have dogged the site for several months. This is significantly detracting from the time that can be spent on articles and some of the behind the scenes assistance we provide to the footy community. WFN has reached a crucial point where it will be difficult to move forward without help. We therefore are looking for a volunteer to assist with the technical side of running the site. Areas of particular need are basic skills in PHP, cPanel and Geeklog. There aren't major demands on time, but our volunteer writers do not have the additional time to become familiar with these areas, so someone competent with any or all of those features would be most welcome. The time commitment would really only be a few hours per month. Please contact us by clicking on my name at the start of this article, and help us continue to keep WFN running.
Former AFL player Ben Graham is just beginning his second year in the NFL, playing American football. Remarkably on September 6, at a Captain's Day function held by his club, the New York Jets, he was named as one of their six captains for the upcoming season.
This opinion piece expands the argument that I made in a letter to The Age and an earlier piece (Show Me the Money!). It is not that I think the AFL should stop funding Queensland and start funding the USA with the money it saves. I actually believe the development of footy in Queensland should be a top AFL priority. What I'm saying is if it's worthwhile for the AFL to spend $10m (Australian) in Queensland then surely it's worthwhile to spend $0.5m in the US.
The 7th Annual Asian Championships of Australian Football, held on the 26th of August at Cibubur, just outside of Jakarta, have been hailed a great success by all involved and once again raised the bar on the standard of footy played.
As promised, the tournament produced high quality footy and evenly matched teams with the Singapore Wombats the standouts and eventual Grand Final winners, downing the Bali Geckos in a rematch of last year's Asian Champs Grand Final, 9.5.59 to 3.8.26 - Read on for Grand Final and Ladder results.
The 2008 International Cup is just two years away, assuming it will again be held in August. This may seem like a long time but for each country planning on attending their thoughts should already have turned to raising the necessary funds and providing their squads with a quality schedule that will see them playing well come the big tournament. It remains to be seen which nations will show and whether the AFL will be able to significantly subsidise travel, but the hard-working volunteers across the various leagues will no doubt be doing their sums on the basis that they will have to foot the whole bill. We talk to some of the likely attendees, discuss their early preparations, and perhaps foolishly make some early predictions.