In recent years footy has continued to gather momentum in Russia. Due in no small part to the growth in St Petersburg, Moscow is also growing. Not only are there now three teams to compete in the next St Petersburg Cup next weekend, the national team had a terrific Euro Cup – their best yet.
Despite losing all of their pool games, the Russian Bears caught fire in the finals. They downed both Israel and Czech Republic in the finals matches before going down in a tough game to Scotland to finish in overall 10th places – a wonderful achievement.
That performance may not have happened if not for the improvement in competitions, recruitment and overall development of the game across the two Russian cities.
After the completion of Round 7 in the AFLG competition, the Hamburg Dockers sit comfortably in the penthouse. It would take some sort of minor miracle for them to NOT win the minor premiership with just two matches to play and they are two games and percentage clear in first place.
The view from there is awesome. In the not too blurry distance is the chance at back-to-back premierships. On the lower floors, the other teams jostle for their final finishing places. The top four is decided, if not the order. Fifth place (Dresden Wolves) is a lock. They will finish fifth almost regardless of what happens from here. The only real change is if the Zuffenhausen Giants can win a game and leapfrog the Rheinland Lions to get off the bottom of the ladder, or, if you like, the basement.
With just six rounds left of the AFL season, then finals, the time for trade, drafts and all other recruiting is fast approaching. Marc McGowan from the www.afl.com.au website reports on another battle looming as Essendon and Richmond lead the charge to access some exciting Irish talent.
Essendon and Richmond are in a two-way race for the pick of this year's Irish crop.
Ross McQuillan has emerged as the most coveted Irishman from the 2018 AFL Europe Combine, and joined countrymen Ronan Devereux, Peadar Mogan and Luke Towey in trialling with clubs in April.
The 20-year-old is a good athlete, clocked a blistering 2.77sec in winning the 20m sprint at the combine, thrives on physicality and is already showing promise with his kicking on both sides.
In 2017, AFL Scotland’s newest team – the West Lothian Eagles – played a full season of development games against all other league teams. Not for points, but to develop their skills and plans against their future rivals. Last year was their first season as a fully integrated team and they enjoyed a winless but competitive season.
This season they have waited, developed and learned further and finally broken through for their first win as a fully-fledged AFL Scotland team – downing the Kingdom Kangaroos by 30 points. The excitement was palpable, even on the club’s Facebook page.
“What a day for the club. Our first ever league victory.”
“It's been a tough year so far being on the wrong side of a few thumpings from teams at the level we aspire to be. A couple of narrow defeats as well which sometimes can hurt more.”
The following article from Josh Roche at www.afl.com.au looks a little deeper at the lead-up to the recent Euro Cup played in Norrtälje, Sweden. People involved appreciate how much work goes into staging an event of this size and scale. But this story highlights to what lengths some people have gone to in ensuring everything needed was found.
“No goalposts - No problem, our captain is a lumberjack”. Four footy ovals, no goalposts, one Swedish lumberjack. Game on.
AFL Europe held its annual nine-a-side tournament in Norrtälje, Sweden last weekend, and a couple of weeks out, four of the ovals were missing goalposts.
Enter Buster Sund, the Swedish Elks captain and a handy axeman off the field (he also hunts moose in his spare time, because Sweden).
Marc McGowan from www.afl.com.au reports here on the measures being employed by AFL clubs to keep the performances of prospective Irish AFL recruits under tabs. With players like Zac Tuohy, Conor McKenna and Pearce Hanley well established on AFL club lists, and many others in the earlier stages of their careers, Irish recruiting is becoming a far more scientific and targeted enterprise.
AFL SCOUTS in Australia are remotely watching Irish prospects train as international recruiting becomes increasingly sophisticated.
The preference is for them to use Gaelic footballs in 'small-sided' games, which involve four players against four, with recruiters most interested in everything but how they kick a Sherrin.
Ex-Magpie Marty Clarke, who accepted a part-time role with the AFL last year, spearheads Ireland's development program, which sees about 30 young Gaelic footballers meet monthly.
With just one round to be played before the AFL London finals series begins, teams are doing their final jostling. Whilst the Men’s Conference division is still up in the air with multiple teams sharing realistic flag hopes, the Men’s Premier and Women’s Premier divisions see one team each that sits ahead of the rest.
The weekend was again special as “Pride Round” with AFL London stating on their Facebook page that “AFL London and its teams are excited for this week's Pride Round. Ensuring we're a league inclusive and welcoming of all people is very important to us.”
The matches coincided with the Pride in London parade, described by the Pride in London organisers as “Celebration, diversity, activism, a demonstration — whatever it means to you, Pride in London is back and set to be our biggest yet. Lesbian, trans, genderqueer or otherwise; wherever you identify, Pride in London is about the people, for the people. This year we’re celebrating 50 years since the birth of the modern LGBT+ rights movement.” Players from all clubs and AFL London joined the parade as a showing of solidarity and support.
It has taken 10 years, but what a wonderful anniversary present for the Wolverhampton Wolverines. After 10 years in the AFLCNE competition, the league’s most southern club (with the Birmingham Bears on hiatus) has made it to the big dance.
It is a wonderful achievement for a club that has probably had more ups than downs along the journey without ever tasting the ultimate successes – just a darned good consistent club.
They will take on the behemoth, the Manchester Mozzies, in the Grand Final to be played at Huddersfield on 20th July. The Mozzies have come through another season undefeated and it appears a very tough task to prevent them winning an amazing sixth straight flag.
Plenty has been happening across the playing fields across Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Both the Swedish (men’s 5th place and women’s 4th place overall) and Finnish (men’s 14th place overall) teams have also been to the Euro Cup, adding to the busyness. But following is an overview of leagues across Scandinavia.
Round 1 of the FAFL competition took place in Helsinki during June. It featured the three FAFL teams plaing their round robin format as well as two matches involving the visiting St Petersburg Cats from Russia. The FAFL United team was made up from players across all three Finnish teams, taking on the Cats. The final game of the day was a huge hitout with the Finland Icebreakers team taking on the Cats as a practice match ahead of the Euro Cup.
At the end of Round 5 in the AFL Ireland Men’s competition, the Belfast Redbacks have kept their undefeated run going, whilst the Galway Magpies now seem very likely to be grand final-bound with another win to put them in clear second position a game ahead of the Leeside Lions.
Weekend results saw the Belfast Redbacks too good for the Leeside Lions down in Cork. The final result was a 40-point margin. Whilst the margin was handy for the Redbacks, it isn’t vital. However, the margin further dented the Lions percentage when they need every possible advantage to stay with the Magpies, though the two would still meet in the semi-final. The Redbacks won 88 to 48.
The Galway Magpies won their third match for the season, giving the South Dublin Swans a belting to the tune of 71 points. The win puts the Magpies in outright second position with just one round to play before finals. The final score saw the Magpies down the Swans 111 to 40.