A few concerned readers have contacted us wondering if there are any major concerns behind the current downtime of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland and British Australian Rules Football League websites (you'll be tempted to click on them anyway since they're hyperlinked). WFN has been in contact with the webmasters of both sites and have been assured that these are just the usual website/webhost glitches experienced by many websites and they hope to be back up and running soon.
We may as well take this opportunity to thank Ripefruit for the excellent service they provide us with here at WFN.
One of Australian Football's oldest international leagues, the Danish AFL, has decided to expand its Premier League to six sides for the coming 2007 season. The new club is the Port Malmö Maulers, from the growing Swedish football scene.
In USFooty 2006 was the year of the Lion. The San Diego Lions completed an undefeated season by dispatching perennial champions the Denver Bulldogs at the USFooty National Championship Tournament in Las Vegas on October 8. Their year began well with 11 players (5 Australians and 6 Americans) representing the club in the first ever Australia-Revolution game for G'Day LA Week in early January. With that initial start, the San Diego Lions web page predicted: "2006 will be the Year of the LION". The club went on to defeat the Dallas Magpies and Golden Gate Roos, before winning the first Western Regional Tournament in San Pedro, CA with wins over the Arizona Hawks, the Orange County Bombers and the Denver Bulldogs, defeating Orange County in a home and away series and then hosting and winning the second Western Regional Tournament with wins over Denver, Las Vegas Gamblers, and Orange County. Their home stretch was a win over the Dallas Magpies and then going undefeated at the USFooty National Championship Tournament in Las Vegas with wins over the Golden Gate Roos, the Boston Demons, the Milwaukee Bombers and defeating the Denver Bulldogs 33 to 12 in the National Championship game.
In 2006 the Australian Football League continued to demonstrate its hold on Australia as the dominant football code and winter sport. The year started with the media digesting the news of the record AU$780 million 5-year TV deal. The game also successfully faced the rising challenge of soccer with Australia's surge deep into the soccer World Cup in Germany and unprecedented media coverage. Crowds at AFL matches were virtually the same as in 2005, with home and away matches averaging 35,251 spectators, just 445 per game less than the record set the previous season. Rule changes saw less serious knee injuries to ruckmen and a quickening of the game. There were also promising announcements for funding for footy in South Africa, and a major restructure of the way the AFL approaches international development - more on that in a later article. The Aussie Rules matches culminated in the blockbuster one point win to West Coast in the Grand Final over Sydney. But amongst the successes there have been several issues that will need to be addressed in 2007.
The AFL has confirmed that the 2007 "Once in a Dreamtime" game, to be played in Darwin between Essendon and an Aboriginal All-Stars side, will feature South Africa's under 19s taking on the Qantas AFL Indigenous Youth Team as the curtain-raiser.
The Collingwood Magpies have their own webcast known as CTV, and recently on their free coverage they had an interview with recent Irish signing Martin Clarke and followed their Brazilian born player "Harry" O'Brien back to his roots in Rio.
A recent article in the Auckland press sheds light on one of New Zealand's young up-and-coming players and exposes some of the key difficulties involved in growing junior football participation in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
As the AFL continues its push into South Africa, role models for budding young players can be an important factor. Obviously it will be much more significant when a player groomed in a local competition is drafted into the Australian Football League, but in the meantime AFL South Africa may be able to leverage the recent rookie listing of a young player born in their country.
The figure of a superstar celebrating in Brisbane Lions colours while being worshipped in front of a sell out crowd of 52,000 Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is not your everyday occurence. The Brisbane Lions last week received a welcome promotional boost from rock's bad boy, when Robbie Williams wore a Brisbane Lions jumper for most of the concert as part of his Close Encounters tour. Williams confessed that he is a fan of the club, reportedly staying up late to watch the match of the day from London. During the performance he is reported to have made references to Lions stars Jonathan Brown and other members of the side.
West Perth Falcons Senior player Brett Cousins has returned to Australia after six months with the Milwaukee Bombers. Cousins, a 100-gamer and premiership player for the storied West Perth Falcons helped Milwaukee to their first ever Mid-American Australian Football League (MAAFL) Championship. Brett's stint at Milwaukee is the first stage of a two-way exchange program between the two football clubs. Recently, James and Jared Brunmeier joined West Perth from Wisconsin to play the 2007 season. So far the exchange program has been a great success. According to USFooty and Milwaukee Bombers Founder, Paul "Plugger" O'Keeffe, "I hope to see 30 Brett Cousins playing in the US and 30 Brunmeier brothers playing in Australia each year."
The AFL has released details of changes to its Executive structure and a reallocation of duties as a result of a review following the move of key member Ben Buckley to the top position in Australian soccer. Although the changes may have little affect on the day-to-day outward appearance of the AFL, there was a small snippet of promising information in the re-shuffle.
Two players with an international flavour were added to AFL player lists at the Pre-season and Rookie List drafts conducted this week. PNG born Mal Michael ended his retirement of just a few weeks to be picked up by Essendon, while Irish youngster Martin Clarke (pictured) was added to Collingwood's international rookie list via the rookie draft.