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."
The 2016/17 NTFL season is getting very close to the pointy end as teams now jostle for their finals positions, or at least their best possible finishes. Interestingly, the top two teams are already decided, as are the two bottom teams – though not their actual finishing positions. Most of the interest, however, will centre on the final positions of the middle four teams.
The Top Two – Nightcliff still sits atop the ladder with 14 wins for the season. They have only lost one game – to St Mary’s – and play two of the bottom teams in the final two rounds. That sets up a wonderful match next round when they again meet the Saints. The winner of that match will almost certainly go on to claim the minor premiership. Saints have the harder run home (against Tigers, Crocs and Waratah – all likely finalists) but have proved they have the ability to beat all of those opponents.
Rick Hanlon is an iconic name when it comes to the development of the game of Australian Rules football in Cairns and throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait islands. His influence has been felt far and wide, and many young men and women have benefitted from his vision, energy and determination. The following article from AFLQ (AFL Queensland) looks at Rick’s background and the amazing body of work which preceded the award over many years.
Cape York Regional Manager Rick Hanlon has been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal in today’s Australia Day honours for his services to Australian Rules Football.
Following a successful Australian Football career in Tasmania, Mr Hanlon moved to Cairns in 1998 as the AFL’s North Queensland Regional Manager before shifting his focus to the Cape York region.
This weekend sees an historic occasion for football in the Northern Territory when two of the founding clubs clash to celebrate 100 years of footy in the NT. The following media release from the AFLNT details the event and its significance.
AFLNT Media Release
This week, in Round 15 of the 2016/17 TIO NTFL season the Wanderers Football Club and Waratah Football Club both celebrate their 100 year anniversary in a historic ‘Foundation Cup’ clash at Gardens Oval at 4.00pm on Thursday.
Other planned festivities for the week include a centenary ball and the naming of respective teams of the century on Friday for Waratah and Saturday for Wanderers.
The North Queensland city of Mackay sits on the cusp of a day of redemption. Last season the hopes of the local community were dashed by Mother Nature when a week long deluge of rain washed out their scheduled match at Harrup Park, the epicentre of Australian Rules football in Mackay.
Locals were disappointed when the unceasing downpours washed out the highly anticipated pre-season AFL match between St Kilda – featuring local hero, David Armitage – and the Brisbane Lions.
But this year the tropical city could be on the verge of one of the most exciting and important games of the pre-season. In a little over a month’s time, the Gold Coast Suns will take on the Essendon Bombers in a match where both teams have much at stake, even if it is the JLT Community Series rather than a premiership season match. Mackay effectively replaced Townsville as the northern Queensland centre for pre-season matches, but got off to a very wet and soggy start.