The following article from Fox Footy at their www.foxsports.com.au website looks at the naming of Essendon and AFL legend, Michael Long as the 2018 Northern Territorian of the year. As well as being an icon of the game for his achievements on and off the field, Long remains an inspiration to generations of people inside and outside of sport.
ESSENDON champion Michael Long has been named Northern Territorian of the Year in recognition of his work as an indigenous community leader.
Darwin-born Long has been described as a football icon who made a stand against racism during his career, and an advocate for reconciliation.
The Michael Long Learning and Leadership centre in Darwin provides accommodation, education, football and other sporting and corporate facilities.
The centre aims to give young indigenous Territorians the same opportunities as their non-indigenous peers.
The clouds drifted in from Hinchinbrook Island. The players drifted in from Cairns, Townsville and the Whitsundays. The clouds made far less noise about it. A variety of bodies in various states of disrepair had descended like arthritic locusts on beautiful Cardwell – midway between Cairns and Townsville. The purpose – to compete for the AFL Masters Cardwell Cup for the naming rights as the best Masters’ team in North Queensland.
Whilst the breeze brought with it the clouds and occasional shower, the players brought mainly beer and some ill-fitting footy shorts from bygone eras (their playing days). The converted rugby league ground was as hard as the rocks in the nearby Cardwell Range. The grass playing surface was a cross between vegetation and piano wire.
Round 5 of the NTFL 2018/19 season continued to throw up interesting and sometimes unexpected results which keep alive finals hopes for most teams and further confuse followers of the game. St Mary’s and Palmerston both enjoyed valuable wins whilst early finals hopefuls, Waratah and Darwin Buffaloes, stumbled.
With no Premier League matches played at TIO Stadium this weekend, the opening match saw Waratah host the desperate St Marys. On form, and home ground advantage, Waratah should have won. But life doesn’t work that way. In a tight match up until the final change – less than two goals separating the teams until then – St Mary’s pumped the gas in the final term to kick four goals to one and hand Waratah a stinging defeat.
With the release of the AFL’s 2019 premiership season draw due tomorrow, some important pieces of the puzzle have already been announced. High amongst those is the decision to grant Townsville, in North Queensland, their first AFL match for premiership points. The city will see the Gold Coast Suns meet St Kilda at Riverway Stadium in their Round 13 clash.
It makes a bitter sweet situation for North Queensland. Whilst Townsville has earned the right to host a match after years of doing their “apprenticeship” with NAB Challenge and JLT pre-season matches, it does replace Cairns which has hosted matches at Cazalys Stadium since 2011. The sweetener for the north is that Mackay will again hold a JLT series match at Great Barrier Reef Arena on March 3rd when the Gold Coast Suns meet the Western Bulldogs.
Townsville crowds have already proved to be enthusiastic fans of matches played in the city – right down to pre-match activities and community support. The chance to host a premiership match of such high stakes should see Townsville support this event vocally and at the turnstiles.
Two games separate the top four from the bottom four teams after Round 4 of the NTFL season in Darwin last weekend. The Nightcliff Tigers, Southern Districts Crocs and Darwin Buffaloes each enjoyed big wins, whilst Waratah were too good in the end for a plucky Wanderers team.
A big seven-goal opening term by the Tigers set the tone for their clash against the Bombers at Tiwi Oval. From there, the Tigers extended their lead all day – except for a brief Bomber resurgence in the third term. Aided by a big 10-goal haul from Trent Melville, the Tigers ran out 47-point winners in front of the Tiwi crowd. Dion Munkara kicked five goals for the home team.
Waratah kept their season momentum going with a four goal win over Wanderers. Not much separated the teams all day, but Waratah were able to kick goals at crucial times to keep expanding their lead by degrees. The win sees Waratah with three victories from four starts and in a good position to consolidate their place in the top five. Former New York Magpie ruckman, Alex Aurrichio, played his fourth game for the club since arriving from the Northern Blues, kicking a goal.
Waratah have come from behind to snatch a thrilling win against the Nightcliff Tigers in the Round 3 action of the NTFL. Their win finished off a big round of footy in Darwin with St Mary’s snaring their first win of the season, Southern Districts Crocs holding off a gallant Tiwi Bombers and the Darwin Buffaloes too good for the Palmerston Magpies.
In the Sunday match, however, the Tigers led Waratah almost all day. Going into the match, Nightcliff were slight favourites after an undefeated start to the season. All was on track until three-quarter time with the Tigers still 20 points ahead. But Waratah came out onto the field full of fire and closed the gap. Waratah were down by less than a goal with less than five minutes to play, but a crumbed goal in the goal-square put Waratah ahead. Only moments later, Waratah kicked another to seal the game, and their second win of the season.
Last weekend’s NTFL matches tossed up four big wins for Round 2, with the Darwin Buffaloes, Southern Districts Crocs, Waratah and Nightcliff on the winners list and each building early percentage buffers. At the other end of the scale, both St Mary’s and the Tiwi Bombers lost their second matches of the season and have already put themselves under pressure.
The Darwin Buffaloes kicked seven final quarter goals to one against Wanderers to run away with their match at TIO Stadium. Trailing by the first change, the Buffaloes fought back to lead by two goals at the main break. That momentum carried into the second half as the Buffaloes charged away to a strong 52-point victory. Star recruit – former North Melbourne and Port Adelaide player, Lindsay Thomas - kicked three goals for the Buffaloes.
And now for something completely different....Footy has long inspired song writers to try and capture the games essence and put it to words accompanied by an appropriate tune. None bigger than the likes of Up There Cazaly and One Day in September.
Adam Western contacted us this week to share his take on the footy anthem. His song had it's humble beginnings "in the garage of the drummers house(as all good songs do)."
"We had been at the local football in Albany that day (coastal town on the south coast of Western Australia) and the umpires had been particularly disappointing ,we were jamming away making up lyrics about the game and came up with the song Holding The ball".
"We think it has a chance of becoming the seminal anthem for our game , as the term "holding the Ball" or just simply "ball" is surely the most commonly used term a spectator uses whilst watching our great game.Think about it when you watch the game, It really is the catch cry of the game" Western told us.
Rumour has it that the West Coast Eagles Josh Kennedy and Jarrod Schofield are listed among high profile fans of the song.
The new NTFL season got under way this weekend with a set of relatively close games. Southern Districts Crocs got their flag defence off to a solid start, whilst last season’s wooden-spooners, the Palmerston Magpies, grabbed a huge first round win. The Nightcliff Tigers and Wanderers also got the season off to a flyer with first up wins.
Darwin’s TIO Stadium played host to a triple-header to kick off the season, whilst the Palmerston Magpies played host to Waratah at Asbuild Oval.
In a perfect start to their season, the Palmerston Magpies held on in a low scoring match. Bounding out of the blocks with a four goal to nil opening quarter, the Magpies had Waratah under pressure from the outset. Despite a second quarter comeback by Waratah, the Magpies still held sway at the main break. The second half was more even, but Waratah just couldn’t bridge the gap, despite keeping the Magpies goalless in the final quarter. Palmerston held on to win by three goals.
Marc McGowan from the www.afl.com.au website reports on the decision by the AFLNT to explore the potential of being host to an AFL team. Whilst Tasmania is the logical and emotional next step for a club to be developed or relocated, the Northern Territory is a passionate home to the NTFL, the Northern Thunder in the NEAFL and a continual pipeline of amazing talent.
THE NORTHERN Territory is preparing to explore whether it could realistically be home to an AFL club.
AFLNT chief executive Stuart Totham and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner met with AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan in Melbourne this week to discuss the plan.
The Territory has produced a number of great AFL footballers, including Norm Smith medallists Andrew McLeod, Michael Long, Maurice Rioli and Cyril 'Junior Boy' Rioli, and Nathan Buckley.