What a day of Aussie Rules glory we witnessed last Saturday at The Oval. We started the day by defining the importance of Aussie Rules football to those dedicated devotees with a short historical analogy dating back to 1859. In that year, two great books were published – the first was by Charles Darwin called The Origin of Species, the second was by the Melbourne Football Club called The Rules of Australian Football. One of these books went on to define the theory of competition and set a new standard as to the meaning of life, the other of course was Darwin’s book.
A crowd of more than 10,000 people filed in on the day to watch a pre-match of Europe’s best talent where a combined side of Ireland, Britain and Iceland took on a combined team from the Continent. This match was then followed by a classic encounter between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs. The match had everything – passion, skills, streakers and drama. The crowd sat on the edge of their seats as Port Power clawed back a 6 goal deficit to the Bulldogs to finish with a magnificent Brad Ebert goal from the boundary line to give the Power a one point victory.
The AFL’s support for this match has been outstanding and the work of Tony Woods and Andrew Dillon was much appreciated. The occasion was also enhanced by the presence of AFL Commissioner, the very charming Linda Dessau and her partner and aspiring photographer Tony Howard who no doubt walked away from the weekend with more shots than Donald Bradman. The AFL have shown faith in the AFL Europe Community and especially my predecessor, Gerard Murphy, and I hope they feel we have repaid that faith with our passion and commitment to the day’s success.
We look forward to this match being the start of an annual event that allows us to showcase our game in the best possible way on one of history’s most famous grounds. In London we are blessed with so many awe-inspiring buildings and sporting grounds but it was truly uplifting to hear the players speak afterwards of the privilege to have been part of such a special event.
Chairman AFL Europe