Martin Clarke’s rapid rise to senior AFL ranks continues at an unprecedented rate as far as Irish imports are concerned. Collingwood yesterday confirmed on their website that the 19 year old rookie has been promoted from the rookie list to the senior list.
It is thought that he will not play this week against Fremantle, but now he is on the senior list can be selected at anytime. He continues to work closely with Nathan Buckley and was working on fast leading and kicking drills with him while the media’s eyes were on Buckley at training yesterday, as Buckley continues to edge closer to his own senior debut for the year (returning from injury). It may turn out that they run out together the following weekend for the Queen’s Birthday clash on June 11th.
The short history of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI) is an interesting one with a mixture of extreme highs but also a few low points in what is a unique country for Aussie Rules. On the upside the national side went several years undefeated and claimed the inaugural International Cup back in 2002, and remained very competitive to finish fourth in 2005. The number of clubs also grew quickly from the first beginnings around the turn of the century, but the numbers have ebbed and flowed in the country which has both the advantages and disadvantages of the similarity between Australian and Gaelic Football. With the 2007 season getting underway with five clubs we chat to new ARFLI President Ciarán O' Hara about where he intends focussing the League's efforts.
World Footy News has covered the journey of Irish import Martin Clarke since his transition was first rumoured last year. It was today speculated in a Real Footy article that he could become the fastest of the Gaelic converts to a senior list and to a fully fledged AFL match.
The Scottish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL), in partnership with Culture and Sport
Glasgow, Community Club Programme is to launch Scotland's first junior Aussie Rules football
program in Glasgow in June 2007 and to be run throughout the summer. The program will introduce
the game through free-to-attend Glasgow youth clinics held at Bellahouston Park on a weekly basis,
with the SARFL providing free coaching and tuition.
The Italian team of the century will be announced soon. The initiative sees the great players of the VFL/AFL of recent Italian heritage being selected from to produce the best Italian footy side. The team will be announced at a dinner at Crown Casino on Thursday 31 May 2007. Proceeds from the dinner go to the Victorian Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. More details follow.
To be eligible for the team, a player had to have played at least one VFL/AFL senior game and been either born in Italy or had at least one parent or grandparent born there. From the wider Australian point of view the VFL/AFL criteria is a little disappointing, as before the AFL era there would have been many great players with Italian background playing in the other major leagues around Australia, so it's a little Melbourne-centric. Other than that, it's a fun initiative and it would be great to see some of the influential people involved turn their attention afterwards to seeding the great Australian game back in their ancestral home, where Italy appears to be a notable absentee amongst the ever growing number of European nations with grass-roots Aussie Rules sides (there was some development in Italy but this appears to have lapsed - let's hope not).
Italian Team of Century nominees: Steve Alessio, Mark Arceri, Ron Barassi snr (deceased), Adrian Battiston, John Benetti, Mario Bortolotto, Scott Camporeale, Domenic Cassisi, Vin Catoggio, Frank Curcio (deceased), Nick Dal Santo, Ron De Iulio, Paul DiMattina, Robert DiPierdomenico, Alec Epis, Brendan Fevola, Silvio Foschini, Cyril Gambetta (deceased), Daniel Giansiracusa, Len Incigneri (deceased), Alan Johnson, John Kennedy jnr, Anthony Koutoufides, Andrew Leoncelli, Tony Liberatore, Paul Licuria, Stan Magro, Gary Malarkey, Albert Mantello, Gerald Marchesi (deceased), Alan Martello, Peter Matera, Phillip Matera, Mark Mercuri, Joe Misiti, Tony Ongarello, Peter Pianto, Tony Polinelli, Simon Prestigiacomo, Adam Ramanauskas, Peter Riccardi, Mark Ricciuto, Guy Rigoni, Anthony Rocca, Saverio Rocca, Peter Russo, Laurie Serafini, Sergio Silvagni, Stephen Silvagni, Ian Stewart.
Edinburgh has won the 2007 Haggis Cup, restoring Scottish pride after Ireland's Dublin Demons had a successful raid across the Irish Sea in 2006. Edinburgh also repelled a second Irish raider, the Dublin Swans, who merged with the Brussels team due to travel problems. Hosts Glasgow were also in the mix, and North London, fielding many non-Australians, were brave grand finalists. In surprisingly warm weather the combined Edinburgh team knocked over all-comers, going through undefeated. The following report is courtesy of the Scottish Australian Rules Football League's Eddie McAvinchey. No word yet on whether the vanquished were forced to eat haggis as punishment.
Recently we reported on the first game played by the Karlstad Dragons against Gothenburg. Further north and east, two more clubs are starting up in Sweden - one based around Australian students in Uppsala and a mainly Swedish team dubbed the Diggers in the city of Falun. Both sides recently played practise matches against opposition from Stockholm, Uppsala going down 55-22 to SAFF metro club Bromma on April 21st and Falun losing 190-67 to the Stockholm Dynamite last weekend.
The Lliga de Futbol Australia de Catalunya kicked off its 2007 season on April 22nd with a match between the Barcelona Stars and Belfry Valls, Valls running out fairly comfortable winners. This was then followed on May 5th by a much closer encounter, with Valls hanging on for an 8-point win. The league has dropped to two teams for this year's season as Lleida and Tarragona have gone into recess until 2008, but on a positive note is looking forward to some international competition this year, including taking part in the EU Cup in Hamburg in September. The LFAC also recently relaunched its new website at lfac.cat.
The Karlstad Dragons made their first appearance on the weekend, taking on the Gothenburg Beserkers in a friendly in Gothenburg. Although the Dragons went down 134-61, the Beserkers are reportedly a much stronger side than previous seasons, making the game a fairly promising start for Karlstad. The South Sweden Saints and Port Malmo Maulers have both kicked off their DAFL Premier League seasons, although they are both still seeking their first win. In the Swedish capital, the three-team city league coordinated by the Stockholm Dynamite has also begun its season.
The Finnish AFL may soon have its second club take the field, with the formation of the Tampere Kestrels. Around 170km from Helsinki, Tampere is Finland's third-largest city overall and the largest outside the Helsinki metropolitan area.
With a controversial summer behind it, the British footy season is about to begin in earnest with the new Aussie Rules UK seniors competition opening up with the Southern and Wales leagues on April 28th and the Northern league on May 5th, with the BARFL's first 2007 match also on April 28th (not confirmed) but the rest starting on May 5th. After a frenzy of meetings, emails and phone calls, the two separate leagues appear to have settled into their final configurations for 2007. We untangle the complicated web of which clubs ended up where and how the year is scheduled to unfold, and reveal that there is a glimmer of hope of the two sides working together in future.