For the fourth consecutive year the St Mary’s Saints and Wanderers Eagles will contest the NTFL Grand Final. It will be the fifth time the two have played off in the big dance since the introduction of the Premier League for the 2010/11 season, and the sixth time in the past ten seasons, meeting also in the 2008/09 decider. They have been, without doubt, the best performed teams of the past decade.
But for all that longer term data, the gulf between the two on paper for the 2016/17 season is enormous. Rarely can a favourite be so clear cut based purely on results to date. St Mary’s have enjoyed a phenomenal season, whilst Wanderers have won critical matches to earn their place without ever looking capable of downing the Saints.
After having finished their 2016/17 season with the Palmerston Magpies, former Essendon players, Courtenay Dempsey and Alwyn Davey, have answered the call to assist the Cairns City Lions in the AFL Cairns competition. Both will line up for the Lions this weekend in the Lions’ round one fixture.
For Dempsey, the chance to play again in the AFL Cairns competition is a homecoming. A Cairns boy, born in Mt Isa and growing up in Cairns’ southern suburbs, Courtenay played junior football with the Cairns Hawks. Dempsey’s precocious talents were identified early on and his pathway took him via the Kenmore Bears club in Brisbane before being drafted by Essendon in 2005 where he went on to play 133 AFL games as a Bomber.
Despite the dubious reference to a Seinfeld episode, the Cairns Stingers AFL Masters team certainly were masters of Watson’s Oval in Cairns today. Hosting a North Queensland carnival today, attended by players from the Cairns based team as well as players from arch-rivals Townsville, Whitsundays, Charters Towers, Port Douglas and even from Mt Isa, the Stingers held aloft the trophy at the end of a fun day for the more “elderly” or maybe “slightly age challenged” members of the playing fraternity across North Queensland.
Frankly, these guys put others to shame. With the threat of tropical downpours, and humidity you could probably swim in, the Masters players defied conditions and played some good, hard footy.
A tropical low to the north-east of Darwin has seen the postponement of the remaining NTFL games scheduled for this weekend. Prior to the rain and cyclone warning, the Nightcliff Tigers 3 13 31 had defeated the Southern District Crocs 2 7 19 in very wet conditions. But the second semi-final between St Mary’s and Wanderers, as well as other divisions across the weekend will be rescheduled, throwing the NTFL finals series into disarray.
The AFLNT released the following statement in response to the warning of the potential cyclone.
TIO NTFL Games Postponed
AFL Northern Territory wishes to advise the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a cyclone warning and therefore the following games have been postponed:
The North Queensland city of Mackay finally got to host its highly anticipated AFL match, almost a year after having had a scheduled match between St Kilda and Brisbane washed out. Instead, Harrup Park, Mackay’s AFL centrepiece, was bathed in sunshine and warm, tropical conditions to see the Gold Coast Suns take on the Essendon Bombers.
Local organisers would have been thrilled to bits to see a healthy crowd pour through the gates (official attendance not yet released) and get behind the game – an important clash in terms of keeping football of the highest level in northern parts of Queensland as well as helping grow the game at grassroots level through local clubs, schools and even just a kick in the park.
To recognise and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin during World War Two, the AFLNT dedicated the final round of the NTFL season to the memory of one of the blackest days in Australian history. Accordingly, all teams involved in matches this weekend played in the spirit of the people of Darwin in the wake of the event in 1942 – tough, resilient and uncompromising.
It was a round of upsets, or near upsets, as the lowly, seemingly undermanned teams fought the odds to bring down opponents that many thought they couldn’t.
Week 1 of the JLT series begins tonight at Etihad Stadium. The teams are in. Sure there are a bunch of new draft picks and traded players that will debut with clubs, Essendon will see the return of a bunch of their players suspended under the WADA code and some are just back in the team for the first time in a while for various reasons.
But you can read about all that anywhere. We will look across the teams for week 1 with an international view.
Collingwood v Essendon Etihad Stadium, Thursday February 16 at 7.40pm AEDT
Collingwood now officially enter the post Travis Cloke era. American Mason Cox has become a key forward (and a handy ruck option) for the Magpies and will look to cement himself with as many goals as possible in his second season at AFL level. Being number one draft pick Andrew McGrath will be in the sights of every footy spectator this weekend, and he will have some extra keen eyes watching him from the home of his birth, Canada. His origin story has been well documented in the past six months and we will be watching his debut for the Bombers too.
Casey Fields at Cranbourne was the venue for 2 time AFL International Cup team of the tournament member Irish lady Laura (Corrigan) Duryea to make her professional footy debut. Representing Melbourne, she played the day at full back matching up on the very dangerous English born Sabrina Frederick-Traub.
Frederick-Traub is one of the Lions two marquee players - recruited from Perth - and at age 20 is a rising star of womens footy. Laura has settled in Australia now - making a career as a primary school teacher - that's where my family first came across her in our twin boys prep year. Laura then was relatively new to Australia and familiarising herself with our domestic code of football - now at age 33 she is a footy veteran - although the kicking style still gives a nod back to the Gaelic origins. Each an example of a less common pathway to a new and unexpected destination - playing on each other in the AFLW.
After the fanfare and excitement of the lock out at Princes Park on Friday night followed by strong attendances in Adelaide and out at Whitten Oval at Footscray - the roughly 6,500 attendees at Casey Fields raised the overall attendance for the weekend to 50,000. Granted there was free entry however that doesn't undersell the commitment of time and effort for people to attend and display their support for the AFLW. Alas the weather gods weren't so kind on Sunday afternoon as firstly the wind was blowing to the southern end and as the 1st quarter progressed the heavens opened. Before half time the lightning had driven the players and umpires from the ground - and many of the exposed fans beat a hasty retreat - thus thinning out the crowd for when play resumed.
In the season which has already seen NTFL clubs, Wanderers and waratah, celebrate their respective 100th years, the Darwin Buffaloes will celebrate this weekend – the club having come into existence in 1917. The following press release from the AFLNT details the remarkable Darwin Buffaloes achievement.
This week, in Round 16 of the 2016/17 TIO NTFL season the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club celebrates its 100 year anniversary when it takes on another founding club in the Wanderers, at TIO Stadium at 2.00pm on Saturday.
Festivities for the weekend include a special pre-game ceremony and centenary ball and subsequent naming of the Darwin Buffaloes team of the century on Saturday night.
We are pleased to confirm the the AFL Women's matches will be streamed live and free around the world. Locally in Australia a number of the matches will be shown live on Channel 7 and the rest of the matches streamed live.
The AFL today told us "Fans can watch AFLW matches live via WATCHAFL, the AFL’s international OTT streaming service and also follow all the action on afl.com.au. Fans will need to log on, but the service is free of charge."