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Cairns To Welcome Reigning AFL Premiers

  • Tuesday, October 25 2016 @ 01:39 pm ACDT
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The tropical Far North Queensland city of Cairns has just received arguably its biggest boost for hosting future AFL Premiership matches with the announcement that it will host its sixth consecutive annual AFL event. Despite falling attendances since 2013 when the Richmond v Gold Coast match drew a crowd of over 11,000 people, the current premiers, Western Bulldogs, will headline the 2017 event – the first time Cairns has played host to a reigning premier.

The match will be part of the Round 18 AFL Premiership fixture and be played again in the original twilight timeslot after opting for an evening event in 2016.
Whilst much of the excitement will surround the “glamour” of having the current premiers in town, the game won’t necessarily be a one horse race with the Gold Coast Suns likely to improve greatly with the inclusion of injured players and experienced recruits. Cairns has fans in both camps. The city has a strong supporter base for the Gold Coast Suns with the team having visited every year since 2010. But the Bulldogs have also won over the city since their first visit in 2014, working closely with the community and showing a keenness to be a part of the burgeoning Cairns AFL scene.

According to the Cairns Post newspaper, Western Bulldogs chief executive Gary Kent is quoted as saying that “we are pleased to return to Cairns for fourth consecutive year, for what has become a much anticipated match in our fixture.”

“Our players, staff and coaches have built a great connection with the Cairns community, and we look forward to strengthening that relationship in 2017. Our fans have shown great support for this match in the past and we hope to see that continue next season.”

The Cairns football community continues to grow, evidenced by new clubs over recent years including the Cape York House junior club, the Eagles, and the entry of local club, Pyramid Power, into the reserve grade competition. The continued promotional and financial benefits, as well as the increased sponsorship opportunities and the mentoring for local clubs provided by both the Bulldogs and the Suns will improve the local game further.

The Cairns Post also quoted AFL Cairns President Gary Young who stated “It’s a testament to those fans locally whose love for the game has influenced the return of top-flight football.”

So far the Western Bulldogs are yet to lose a game in Cairns, winning their encounters in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Suns won their first two matches for premiership points in Cairns in 2011 and 2012 (which featured Karmichael Hunt’s famous “after the siren” winning goal) to boost their local support base. They also defeated the Essendon affiliate team, the Bendigo Bombers, in a VFL match in 2010.

Cairns has produced an enviable list of AFL players in recent years with Courtenay Dempsey (Essendon), Jarrod Harbrow (Gold Coast), Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide) still playing at the highest level. Young Jack Bowes, formerly from the Cairns Saints juniors, is a likely top five selection at this year’s national draft in November.

The Cairns community now has the opportunity to plan ahead for the event and get behind their Queensland team, the Suns, or the highly popular premiers, the Western Bulldogs and promote the game to one and all as well as getting tickets early when they become available to show support for future fixtures in Cairns.

The full 2017 AFL Premiership Season fixture will be released on Thursday 27th October on the http://www.afl.com.au website.