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.
Not only did the Swedish city of Norrtälje just host an excellent Euro Cup for the cream of European footy, but the club from that city – the Norrtälje Dockers – sits in a two way shootout with the Södermalm Blues to take the 2019 SAFF premiership.
At the midway point of the season, the Dockers sit on top of the ladder, percentage ahead of the Blues though with a game up their sleeve pending rescheduling of a previous round match.
The Dockers and Blues have dominated the competition this season and there is little to suggest that the status quo will change ahead of finals in September. The Årsta Swans have struggled on field this season against the top two teams. The Solna Axemen have struggled to get teams on the field in one of their toughest seasons.
The 2019 Euro Cup saw 16 national teams travel to Norrtajle, Sweden for Europe’s major 9-a-side competition. Under clear blue skies, 68 matches took place across five different pitches to crown the 2019 Euro Cup winners.
With over 350 players as well as coaches, team staff, volunteers, umpires, family and friends, the Norrtajlie Sportcentrum was packed out by the AFL Europe community with a great turnout from the locals.
It all came down to the two Grand Finals which saw England and Ireland go head to head in both the men’s and women’s finals.
With the Danish footy season in a small mid-season recess, there is time to review what had happened in the DAFL in 2019 and what might yet happen. Leading the discussion is a revitalised Odense Lions team already on track for finals and potentially their most successful season yet.
With seven rounds down and just six to go, some patterns are already appearing. The Farum Cats hold top sport with four wins, holding off the Port Malmo Maulers and Odense Lions on three wins apiece. The Copenhagen Giants are in the top four ahead of the so far winless Aalborg Kangaroos.
The Cats are undefeated and face the prospect of keeping things that way, having asserted their dominance with big wins against their nearest rivals – the Maulers and Lions.
With just four rounds remaining in Germany’s AFLG competition, it is becoming glaringly apparent that last year’ premiers the Hamburg Dockers are primed to hold the title in 2019. Two games clear at the top of the ladder and undefeated, the Dockers appear to have all challengers covered.
With three games left – two against the Berlin Crocs and one against the Frankfurt Redbacks – it seems likely that only a huge upset from here will see them lose a game before the finals. The Dockers have downed each so far this season, though not by big margins.
The Frankfurt Redbacks held the lead for most of their match against the Dockers in Round 5 before being run down in the final quarter. Similarly, the Berlin Crocs kept the game tied up to half time before the Dockers grabbed the ascendency later in the game. Both teams have fought hard, but in the end, the Dockers had their measure.
After one of the most exciting finishes to a CNFA season, with four teams locked together on wins, then two memorable semi-finals, grand final day ended up being an anti-climax. With poor weather washing out the big match between the Paris Cockerels and the Stade Toulousain A teams in Lyon, the league awaits a rescheduled date – likely now in September.
The month of June saw the combatants arrive at finals time locked in a near photo-finish. The ALFA Lions took the minor premiership by percentage from both the Paros Cockerels and the Paris Cockatoos. Just ten percent separated first from third, each team with five wins for the season. After a rattling finish to the season, Stade Toulousain A also finshed with five wins and the best percentage of all teams. They missed top spot, however, due to a forfeit earlier in the season.
Probably not what Paul McCartney meant when he wrote this song back in the late 1960’s, but the title certainly fits the journey for the Tyne Tees Tigers, now in their second full season as a part of the AFL Scotland landscape.
Currently, the Tigers sit just behind the reigning premiers, the Edinburgh Bloods in second place on the SARFL ladder. Four wins from five starts this season has been by far the best performance for the Newcastle-based team since their inception back in back in 2012. They spent two years playing social matches before gaining full membership status in the AFLCNE for the 2014 season.
Like most clubs, the early days featured some horrendous hidings, interspersed with some exciting wins – enough wins to keep belief and set a longer-term course.
The 2019 Euro Cup, held in Norrtalje, Sweden on the weekend, crowned the England Dragonslayers as the men’s champions and once again the Irish Banshees as women’s champions. The tournament is the showcase of European Aussie Rules, and the standard of matches across the day upheld that status.
For the Dragonslayers, this was their fifth Euro Cup win after back to back titles in Prague (2008) and Samobor (2009, Croatia), Bordeaux in 2013 and 2017. This was also the fourth title for the Irish Banshees, including a back-to-back performance after winning last year in Cork.
The men’s draw saw the traditional powerbrokers – England, Ireland, Croatia and Germany – joined by France, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and host nation Sweden. But the most compelling aspect of the draw was the growing number of developing nations with Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Israel each sending teams.