With the 2014 AFL Rookie Draft complete, the final list has a predicted yet pleasing smattering of international players. Most of these had already been announced by clubs earlier in the year when they nominated their international recruits or “B List” rookies.
But it places a full stop on these selections when they are seen formally listed on draft day.
The list was kicked off by the West Coast Eagles when they announced Irish recruit, Patrick Brophy, as their Pick 45. He was the first of five Irish players to make their way to club rookie lists in 2014.
I went downstairs this morning to find my cricket bat. I wanted to join the legions of people honouring the passing of Phillip Hughes by putting it outside the front door of our house as a mark of respect to the young man. But I couldn’t find it. I guess at some point we had given it away and I’d forgotten. I cried a little. The only time I’d have picked the bat up for a truly worthwhile reason and it wasn’t there.
Instead I settled for my daughter’s Vigoro bat: a similar game for women with a bat that looks more like a paddle, yet can slice a ball through point with equal effectiveness. It might look odd, but it sits out front representing just as much respect.
Phillip Hughes was not bought up with Australian Rules football. His background was more with cricket and the rugby codes. But there is an inextricable link between cricket and Aussie Rules which goes back to the 1850’s when Aussie Rules was created as a way of keeping cricketers fit during their “off-season”. But apart from that, most sportspeople have an admiration, or at least respect, for all other sports. Elite level players of most sports recognise the levels of skill and commitment of players in other sports.
It’s been an exciting year for GIANTS community clubs around the globe. Nearly 20 clubs across Australia and the world wore the GIANTS colours in 2014.
For a club that’s only been in the AFL for three years this is a fantastic achievement and we want to spread the GIANTS name across the world.
The South East London GIANTS made the AFL London Grand Final for the first time but lost in a close match. The Zaprude GIANTS in Croatia came fourth in the CEAFL league which includes Croatian and Austrian teams while they came third in the Croatian National League.
Earlier this year, Jeremy Cameron’s home club of Dartmoor in south-west Victoria changed their name from the Swans to the GIANTS. It was an instant success with the senior side completing an undefeated season and winning the South West District Football League Grand Final.
In a world where soccer/football is arguably the most followed ball sport globally, where people in North America idolise their NFL or NBA or other ball game heroes and where the various rugby codes across the world draw fanatical support, how is it that Australian Rules football is able to continue to attract new followers. What is it that makes people want to play the game?
Left: Gary Ablett Snr takes a screamer for Geelong (Herald Sun)
During the recent International Cup tournament in Melbourne there were two series of articles written for World Footy News. The “IC14 Vignettes” series and the “Meet The Players” series both touched on the reasons players were drawn to the game. There was a wide variety of answers.
Some looked at their involvement as “exciting” and cited the kicking, handpassing, marking and tackling as the elements of the game that captured their imagination. Others cited the family connections, team spirit, support networks and social aspects as being most important.
The Irish Independent newspaper reported last week that the deal to sign Pearce Hanley’s brother, Cian, will still go ahead. The likelihood is that paperwork will be lodged before the end of this month after in-principal agreements had been put in place back in September.
According to the newspaper, “Mayo minor star Cian Hanley looks set to join his brother Pearce at the Brisbane Lions. The teenager is expected to join the Aussie Rules club as an international rookie despite suffering a serious knee ligament injury in Mayo's All-Ireland minor semi-final defeat to Kerry 11 days ago.”
“Lion’s Football Manager, Dean Warren, said the injury was a setback but did not alter Brisbane’s plans to bring Cian to Australia on an International Rookie contract when the players return from their annual leave.”
The Irish Independent newspaper reports that Kildare product, Sean Hurley, will join the club for the 2015 season. Almost buried under the activity of Free Agency and Trade Week, the news is welcomed by the Dockers’ community.
According to the Independent, “Kildare footballer Sean Hurley is the latest footballer to try his luck Down Under by signing for AFL side Fremantle. Kildare manager Jason Ryan confirmed that the Johnstownbridge player will not be part of the senior panel next season.”
“Hurley made his debut for the Lilywhites in 2011 and participated in the draft combine two years ago. He had a trial with the Dockers at the end of 2013 but is now hoping it will be a case of second time lucky.”
In a huge couple of weeks for the recruiting of Irish footballers, the West Coast Eagles have swooped on 20 year old Paddy Brophy on the final day of Draft Combine testing in Melbourne.
Paddy is from County Kildare in Ireland and has been in Australia to take part in the Combine. He is from a Gaelic Football background, being a Celbridge clubman.
According to the http://afl.com.au website, “Brophy is a dashing defender standing at 189cm and 84kg. His speed and agility stood out at the European AFL Combine held in Dublin this year and he dominated a match against the Australian Under 18s in London in April gathering 26 disposals and five clearances for the European Legion.”
“Brophy spent three days in Perth last week visiting with West Coast ahead of signing as the club's first-ever international rookie.”
Buried amid the free agency news, the fall out from the Grand Final, James Hird and Essendon - the news that Sydney's American Rookie Patrick Mitchell has pulled the pin and heading home is barely earth shattering. However - along with the return of Irishman Tommy Walsh - it does highlight the journey of Mike Pyke and the massive gamble the Swans took across this period last year.
Pyke of course is now an Australian citizen, however, technically we can still claim him as the first Canadian to contest 2 AFL Grand Finals! Of interest was the state of origin breakdown across the 44 players last week as well - 10 of whom emanated from NSW which perhaps again highlights the gamble and investment on growing the game outside of it's strongholds both domestically and internationally.
Can Aussie Bum crack the Spanish market? For the answer to this question and all your queries about doing business in 33 countries check Tim Harcourt's new book Trading Places – the airport economist’s guide to international business at the following link - https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/trading-places/
AFL Commission Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick was an onlooker at the 2014 International Cup (pictured here at the Women's Grand Final with fellow commissioners Linda Dessau and Sam Mostyn) and it's pleasing he took the time to mention it during his AFL Grand Final pre-match address.
The full speech can be read here, and although it was only one sentence, it was good that the IC got a mention, as it shows he's not ashamed to spruik the international development of the game.
"The International Cup won by Papua New Guinea was again a great success, and goes from strength to strength. Our game really has no boundaries."
Fans of growing the women's side of the sport, as we all should be, would also be pleased to read Fitzpatrick say (speaking about women's football although no doubt primarily within Australia):
"Women’s football is on the march, and the AFL is going to support it."