Late last year the AFL Middle East competition welcomed a new team to the league with the BM Bulls becoming the third Dubai based team and a sixth team for the league. Whilst people may have dreamed of great things at the time, most felt the Bulls might need a season or two to get their rhythm and challenge for a flag.
The pre-season competition was played back in October and to the surprise of many the Bulls reached the grand-final against the Dubai Dragons. Beginners luck? Getting ahead of themselves? Playing above their station? Maybe, maybe not.
But this weekend’s final competitive round of matches saw the BM Bulls take on the in-form Dubai Dingoes for a small chance of grabbing a grand final berth. The Bulls not only needed to win, but had to make up a big percentage to do so. But, that is exactly what they managed to do in their debut season.
Not unlike Smaug, the devilishly gold driven dragon from the J.R.R Tolkein novel, The Hobbit, the Dubai Dragons are becoming fiercely protective of their glittering jewels. Whilst other teams slog it out to challenge and steal the loot, not unlike so many dwarves and hobbits, it is the Dragons that, for now, sit above all others.
Undefeated so far this season, the Dubai Dragons have already qualified for their fourth consecutive AFL Middle East grand-final, and are a red-hot chance to make it three glittering trophies in four years – their only hiccup being the loss to the Doha Kangaroos last season.
Matt Burn, President of AFL Middle East, has given a brief rundown on where the 2014/15 season currently sits.
Despite the enormous efforts of the AFL Middle east and the Oman based Clann na hOman GAA and Muscat Magpies AFL, the team has announced it will not formally continue the current season. In a blow to the Middle East competition, the Magpies will bow out and work towards a stronger club for next season and beyond.
The president of AFL Middle East, Matt Burn, released the following statement:
Unfortunately the Muscat Magpies have withdrawn from the 2014/15 season. The Magpies have struggled for numbers since the beginning of the season and sadly the situation has only become worse over the year.
With the local Middle East competition enjoying its festive season break the opportunity to review the season to date presents itself. However, due to the postponement of the two games involving the Muscat Magpies, only four games have been completed to date. The scheduled nine games in 2015, as well as the two rescheduled Magpie games, will now hold the greatest clues to the season.
With that in mind, a very early guide to team's progress and chances has been put together ahead of the recommencement of matches on January 16th in both Abu Dhabi and Muscat.
Dubai Dragons - Started their season with an impressive 57 point win over last season’s premiers, Doha Kangaroos, in Doha. This was an emphatic message that the Dragon’s sought to exorcise their demons from last year. To drive home the point the Dragons then won the traditional local derby against the Dubai Dingoes by 26 points. After the break they play the Muscat Magpies, BM Bulls and Abu Dhabi Falcons. To lose any would be an upset of sorts, so the Dragons are well on the way to another grand-final, barring surprises.
Last weekend saw the long-awaited and much anticipated grand final rematch between last year’s AFL Middle East combatants, the Doha Kangaroos and the Dubai Dragons. A usual with these re-matches the reigning premiers would be keen to restamp their authority on the competition in a bid to set up a shot at back-to back titles. On the other hand, the vanquished from last season’s biggest day would be seeking their own shot at redemption.
The following is an extract from the Dubai Dragon’s club newsletter which gives an insight into one of the year’s biggest games for the Middle East competition. The big day started as a military style operation as a contingent of 35 Dragons (players and support) packed the plane to carry out their plans for a Doha heist. The club can take over the story…
Anyone who watched the Port Adelaide Power team in 2014 was left admiring their impressive ability to run out games. The Power were never dead in the water in any game, as their renowned ability to surge home left their rivals grasping at thin air.
Ask anyone why the club has improved so dramatically in just two years and two factors keep recurring: fitness coach Darren Burgess and their fitness camps to Dubai.
According to the Port Adelaide website “consolidation of the Power’s already strong fitness platform will be the focus of Darren Burgess and his high performance team this summer.
Port Adelaide will begin its preparations for season 2015 in earnest on Monday 17 November, when its 1-4 year playing group hits the track for a three-kilometre time trial. Among that group will be members of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 draft classes.
The newest team in the AFL Middle East competition, the BM Bulls, have added a new entry into their history books by winning their first official premiership match. In just a few short weeks of competition the Bulls have already impressed with their competitiveness, and are now adding victories.
In their outing at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai last week the BM Bulls were too good for their opponents, the Abu Dhabi Falcons. The final score saw a 28 point win to the new kids on the block, with a final score:
The brand new season starts tomorrow for the AFL Middle East, and what a great way to unveil their new 2014/15 product that pitting last year’s premiers against the new boys on the block. After months of waiting the fans and players can finally sink their teeth into the excitement of new battles.
First cab off the rank is the battle in Qatar tomorrow when the Doha Kangaroos, last year’s premiers, have the honour of hosting the brand new BM Bulls team – new to the league this year. Doha deserves the honour of starting off the new season after winning their maiden premiership last season when they toppled an unsuspecting Dubai Dragons in the main event. They also get to make history of a different kind by providing the opposition for the newest club in the league on their maiden voyage in the waters of the season proper.
The BM Bulls have announced their arrival in a big way, having reached the grand final of the Pre-Season Cup last month. Quite a remarkable feat for a club that had not played an official game prior to that event. They will be super keen to prove to all that their efforts that day were no fluke, and can be expected to take it up to the Kangaroos. Whilst some say that teams were not at full strength for the pre-season hit-out, it is still something special that the Bulls made their mark against all teams on the day.
Who would have thought that an eight week old club could reach the grand final of a long established competition in their maiden outingω Well, that’s exactly what happened in Dubai when the BM Bulls, the newest team in the AFL Middle East competition, reached the Grand Final against the Dubai Dragons. It was a highlight of a great day for AFL Middle East, and a carnival which has fans and organisers alike looking forward to a huge season for 2014/15.
Congratulations go to the Dubai Dragons. Keen to make a statement after missing their chance at a third consecutive premiership last year, losing to the Doha Kangaroos, the Dragons went through the event undefeated to add more silverware to their collection.
The new season for AFL Middle East is fast approaching with all clubs currently in pre-season training and making their plans for their assaults on the 2014/15 premiership. Last year the Doha kangaroos bought change and hope to all clubs when they defeated the Dubai Dragons for their maiden flag, and as a result all teams now know that anyone can win.
The new season starts with the Pre-Season Cup to be held in Dubai on Friday October 17th, before Round One kicks off in the first week of November. The season will see five rounds played either side of the Christmas/New Year break, with the Grand Final scheduled for March 20th in Dubai.
Matt Burn, General Manager at AFL Middle East, has provided an overview of all teams in their preparation for the new season.