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3. Pay for your 2016 Season Pass – and enjoy your football!

Can be used throughout the 2016 Toyota Premiership Season! #AFLinEurope

2016 Champions League

This weekend the 2nd annual AFL Europe Champions League took place in Amsterdam, co-hosted with the Amsterdam Devils.

Sportspark de Eendraact accommodated 5 women’s and 13 men’s teams as they all battled it out to be named the Champion of Europe. With around 38 matches being played over 4 pitches the atmosphere was buzzing from 10am.

WOMENS COMPETITION

The women’s competition started with a round robin, having all teams play each other. Both the Swedish Ravens and GB Swans ended up on three wins a piece each with the Odense Lionesses following on two wins, Les Gauloises on a win and a draw and the Wandsworth Demons ended with one draw. The Grand Final was then made up of the top two teams, the Ravens and Swans. After both teams having strong performances all day the Grand Final was highly anticipated. Unfortunately for the Swedish Ravens the GB Swans were too good and ran it out with a 13 point buffer. The final score was GB Swans 26 def. Swedish Ravens 13.

In 5th place in the Women’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague tournament we had the Women’s AFL London Premiers, the Wandsworth Demons. Winning the inaugural WAFL London Grand Final last year over the Wimbledon Hawks by 4 goals, the Demons were strong contenders but were unfortunately plagued with the typical player loss due to visa expiries! Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Alex Daley.

In 4th place in the Women’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague tournament we had French national team Les Gauloises. Our French women were coming off a 3rd place finish in our 2015 Euro Cup, and continually becoming stronger and more experienced. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Camille Portal.

In 3rd place in the Women’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague tournament we had the winners of the Women’s Nordic AFL League, the Odense Lionesses. With exceptional skill and a substantial amount of players being a part of the runners up, 2015 Euro Cup, Danish National team, the women gave it a strong effort. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Maria Falkesgaard.

In 2nd place in the Women’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague tournament we had the Sweden national team, the Swedish Ravens. Finishing on top of the ladder after the pool rounds the Ravens headed into the Grand Final with the newly formed GB Swans. Putting up a strong fight the Ravens went down 13-26 against GB. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey and Captain (best player of the tournament) went to Ida Rasmark.

In 1st place in the Women’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague tournament we had the newly formed, Great Britain Swans. Made up of women from England and Scotland for this tournament, the ladies ended up second on the ladder in the pool round to secure them a place in the Grand Final against the Swedes. Giving it their all, the Swans ended up taking the gold by 13 points. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Lynsey Torrance.

MENS COMPETITION

With this year being the 2nd annual for the men’s competition the level of skill, play and overall dedication was immense compared to 2015. Growing from last years count of ten teams, 13 teams arrived into Amsterdam with the hope of heading home with the silverware. The 4 pools groups were made up of 3 and 4 teams respectively , with only the winners of each pool progressing into the semi finals. All other teams then went into place playoffs to finish with a definite rank.

In 13th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had AFL Russia’s Moscow Lazy Koalas. The Koalas unfortunately ended up 4th in their pool which took them into an exhibition match with the West London Wildcats reserve team. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Daniel Demaine.

In 12th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Edinburgh Bloods. The Bloods fought hard in the Red Group however, came third to the Hamburg Dockers and Zagreb Hawks in the pool round which took them into the 11th place match against the Odense Lions. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Dylan Brooke.

In 11th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had Odense Lions. The Lions gave the Wildcats a good cat fight in the pool round and came close to the Paris Cockerels but unfortunately finished third in the Orange Group taking them into the 11th place match for them to beat the Edinburgh Bloods by 19 points. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Mikkel Kjøge.

In 10th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had AFL London Premiers, the North London Lions. Beating the West London Wildcats by a solitary point in the 2015 Grand Final the Lions were expected to be big contenders, unfortunately, the Lions were unable to move from third position in what was dubbed the Black Group of Death. They headed into the 9th place match against the Dockers. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Jay Orion.

In 9th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Zagreb Dockers. Coming third in the White Group, the Zagreb Dockers headed into the 9th place match against the North London Lions where they were victorious by 7 points. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Tomislav Cvetko.

In 8th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Stockolm Australian Football Federation (SAFF) winners, Södermalm Double Blues. Södermalm came second in their pool to the South Dublin Swans but unfortunately went down to the Zagreb Hawks in the 7th place match. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Oscar Löfgren.

In 7th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Zagreb Hawks. The Hawks came second to the Hamburg Dockers in their pool to then go on and beat Sodermalm in the 7th place match by 23 points. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Jan Dolezal.

In 6th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Paris Cockerels. Finishing in second in their pool below the West London Wildcats the Cockerals narrowly missed out on 5th place against the Devils. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Pierre Bouchet.

In 5th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the host team, the Amsterdam Devils. The Devils were unlucky in pooling in the “Black Group of Death” coming second to AFLCNE’s Manchester Mosquitoes. This took them into the 5th place match against the Paris Cockerels where the won by 18 points. Our Team of the Tournament Guernsey and Captain (best player of the tournament) went to Neil Cooke.

In 4th place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the South Dublin Swans. Finishing on the top of the White Group, the Swans went into the Semi Finals up against the West London Wildcats. Unfortunately they went down to the Wildcats by 69 points and went on to play the Hamburg Dockers in the 3rd place match where the lost by 15 points to take out 4th place. Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Kevin Brennan.

In 3rd place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Hamburg Dockers. The Dockers were victorious in the Red Group beating out the Zagreb Hawks and Edinburgh Bloods to finish first in the pool stages. Moving into the semi finals the Dockers played the Manchester Mosquitoes but unfortunately missed out on a place in the final by a mere 4 points. They went onto the 3rd place final where they beat the South Dublin Swans by 15 points. Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Rick Hansome.

In 2nd place in the Men’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague we had the Manchester Mosquitoes. The Mozzies managed to get out of the “Black Group of Death” beating both the North London Lions and Amsterdam Devils to make it into the semi finals. Come Semis the Mozzies beat the Hamburg Dockers by 4 points to make it into the Grand Final where the went down fighting to the West London Wildcats by 30 points. Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Tom Crameri.

2016’s AFL Europe #ChampionsLeague went to the reigning winners, the West London Wildcats. The Wildcats showed up with a strong squad ready to defend their title. Ending up in first place in the Orange group by beating the Paris Cockerels and the Odense Lions, the Wildcats went into the semis to face off with the South Dublin Swans. The Wildcats gave a strong performance and went into the Grand Final with a 69 point win under their belts. Coming up against their northern competition, the AFLCNE victors, the Wildcats showed no mercy and took out the title by a comfortable 30 points. Team of the Tournament Guernsey went to Lloyd Williams.

 

We want to thank the Amsterdam Devil immensely for all their hard work, energy and time, without you guys this event wouldn’t have gone off as perfectly as it did! A big thank you to all the teams that came out, gave it their best and played hard. The level of football seen on the weekend was incredible and we couldn’t pick the top 8 let alone top 4. We’d also like to thank our volunteers, the umpires and the supporters that made the day wonderful!

Check out our Facebook and Instagram for photos!

Until next year!

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This year’s Champions League…

The 2nd annual AFL Europe Champions League will take place tomorrow in Amsterdam. Co-hosted by DAFA and the Amsterdam Devils, Champions League, is comprising of 13 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams. Battling it out for the Champion of Europe title.

The first team to receive an invite back were AFL London’s, West London Wildcats to defend their inaugural AFL Europe Champions League title. Despite their loss in the 2015 AFL London Grand Final, the Wildcats are strong favourites to go back to back with their strong team and ability to recruit ROW players.

The Amsterdam Devils are returning as both co-hosts and strong contenders after missing out on last years final to a last minute, extra time goal. A few new recruits and their consistent core players, along with a two month preseason have the Devils as hot contenders!

The Edinburgh Bloods have dominated the Scotish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL) for the past 7 seasons. Their first Champions League performance had them at 6 place but with a good mix of Aussies, Scots and Irish the Bloods are looking to move up the ranks in this years tournament.

This years German contender; the Hamburg Dockers, have replaced last year’s runner up, the Rhineland Lions. The Dockers fought hard in the AFL Germany (AFLG) Grand Final against the Munich Kangaroos and won by 40 points to claim their invite to this years Champions League.

With AFL Russia not making too many appearance in AFL Europe events over the last few years since joining in 2011, the inclusion of the Moscow Lazy Koalas has the anticipation mounting. Winning all of the last four AFL Russia tournaments and training through a tough Russian winter, we look forward to watching their performance.

The Manchester Mosquitoes copped their invite to the Champions League by winning the minor and major premierships in the Central-North England League in 2015. They are the first team from AFL CNE to claim back-to-back premierships. They were clinical in their grand final, easily accounting for the Sheffield Thunder. With some good Aussie recruits and a solid preseason training block the Mozzies have a strong chance to go all the way if they can get out of the pool of death on Saturday.

The North London Lions are our second AFL London contenders after beating the West London Wildcats by a single point in the 2015 Grand Final. A strong team with a huge amount of skill and experience, these guys will be tough to beat! After the big upset caused in the AFL London Grand Final, we’re sure you can expect some entertainment out of these guys.

This years Danish contenders, the Odense Lions, will bring a ton of enthusiasm and heart to the tournament. Even though they didn’t win the 2014 DAFL Premiership, the Lions are a strong team with a few Great Danes in the mix. Keep an eye on these Vikings as they may be the dark horse coming through the ranks.

Our French friends, the Paris Cockerals won both the minor Premiership in the 2014/15 season. They then went on and absolutely thrashed their opposition, the Motpellier Fire Sharks ,in the CNFL Grand Final by 116 points. With last years French contenders, the Toulouse Hawks coming 5th, the Cockerals will be looking to beat that in this years tournament.

The Sodermalm Blues booked their place for the 2016 Champions League in emphatic fashion. They dominated the Swedish league in 2015 clinching both the minor and major premierships. They ran out 152 point winners in the grand final against the Solna Axemen and continue to be the benchmark for Aussies Rules in Sweden. They’ve been drawn into the pool with four teams but could really give the competition a shake-up on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if Sodermalm go deep into the finals this Champions League.

Despite not claiming the Croatian League premiership, the Zagreb Hawks showed great consistency in season 2015 and claimed the coveted Central European AFL Premiership. They’ve been a top team throughout central Europe since their inception as a founding club in 2006. They’ll be hoping to improve in their 2nd Champions League appearance and could prove difficult for the opposition with their hard-at-it attack on the ball.

The Zagreb Dockers have been a mainstay at the top of the ladder in Croatia for years now. Despite being runners-up in the 2013 and 2014 seasons they booked a place at this year’s Champions League by clinching the Croatian Premiership in 2015 against cross-town rivals, the Zagreb Hawks. The Dockers would like to make an impression against Europe’s best when they make their Champions League debut this Saturday.

The South Dublin Swans will still be riding high following their incredibly victory in the ARFLI Grand Final in 2015. They won the premiership against all odds, snatching victory against reigning champions, the Belfast Redbacks by 2 points in a nail-biting affair. The Swans will be hoping to carry that winning feeling into the Champions League tournament this Saturday and have the potential to go all the way. The opposition will be hoping the boys from Ireland over indulged during St Patrick’s Day festivities because the Swans will be hard to stop in the 9-a-side format.

 

 

The GB Swans are debuting the new national team at this years Champions League. Established in January 2016 the GB Swans have been formed due to the success of the Men’s GB Bulldogs and they exponential growth of women’s football throughout the UK and Europe. The Swans will be ones to watch with the talent and great to see their first time playing together in an AFL Europe tournament.

The French representation come from the national team also, Les Gauloises. The girls are heading over after their third place finish in the 2015 Euro Cup. Reeling from missing out on the final, Les Gauloises will be aiming to make it up in this tournament.

The Odense Lionesses, one of the two teams invited due to their win in their league are representing the Womens Nordic AFL league which currently comprises of Sweden and Denmark. The girls here will be tough, experienced and hard to go past for the win in this one!

Representing Sweden this year is the national team, the Swedish Ravens. The Ravens are coming off a fifth place win in the 2015 Euro Cup and have been training and working hard to make a significant mark in this years Champions League. With this year being the first year for the women at Champions League it’s a hard pick but they’re most definitely going to be hard to beat!

Lastly, the Wandsworth Demons. The other of the two teams invited due to winning their league, being the Women’s AFL London league. The Demons took out the Wimbledon Hawks by 25 points in the 2015 Grand Final and are a consistently strong group of players.

This group is a tough one to pick a clear favourite. Stay tuned throughout the day to see how it unfolds!

 

 

AFL Europe will be keeping everyone up to date via Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you stay tuned to see who takes out the coveted 2016 AFL Europe Champions League!

 

Sarah Ongarello & Ben Durance

Champions League 2016 Draw

The 2nd annual AFL Europe Champions League is taking place this Saturday in Amsterdam. Sportpark de Eendracht will be graced by 13 Men’s teams and 5 Women’s teams as they battle it out for the title of Champion of Europe.

The teams participating in this year’s tournament are:

 

MENS
Team League Country
Amsterdam Devils DAFA Netherlands
Edinburgh Bloods SARFL Scotland
Hamburg Dockers AFLG 16’s Germany
Lazy Koalas AFL Russia Russia
Manchester Mozzies AFL CNE England
North London Lions AFL London England
Odense Lions DAFL Denmark
Paris Cockerals CNFA France
Sodermalm AFC SAFF Sweden
South Dublin Swans ARFLI Ireland
West London Wildcats AFL London England
Zagreb Dockers HLAN Croatia
Zagreb Hawks CEAFL Croatia
WOMENS
Team League Country
Wandsworth Demons WAFL London England
GB Swans National GB
Les Gauloises National France
Swedish Ravens National Sweden
Odense Lionesses NAFL Denmark

 

The men’s draw is made up of 4 pools, 3 with 3 teams and 1 with 4 teams, the pool stage will see everyone play the others teams in their pool once before the top of each pool moving onto finals. The remaining teams will play place matches to determine the final standing while the top four battle it out for the silverware.

The women’s draw will see all 5 teams play each other once and the top two on the ladder will go into the Grand Final to determine the Champion.

With the first matches commencing at 10am the day will run right through to the Men’s final at 5.30pm. A one hour break for lunch will also have the Men’s 13th place from the pool stage play the Wildcat’s second team and a European Crusaders team made up from the other teams.

 

 

95th Annual Varsity Match – Oxford vs Cambridge 5/3/16

Horspath Sports Ground played host to the 95th Varsity match played between fierce rivals, Oxford and Cambridge. The boundary quickly filled with supporters, providing an incredible atmosphere for what you could tell was going to be a brutal contest. The Oxford boys had the first win of the day, winning the toss and kicking with a slight wind advantage.

Right as the ball was bounced the heavens opened with pouring rain. Howling wind accompanied the rain and proved effective in clearing the boundary line full of supporters, all of whom sought cover under the solitary tent, made for a handful of supporters, not the 100 strong crowd seeking shelter.

The weather didn’t stop the brutal start to the match, with both teams flexing their muscles early on, showing they weren’t going to give the opposition any easy ball. As the weather cleared, the points started to flow. Cambridge were peppering the goals early, but could only come away with a handful of behinds. The Cambridge boys didn’t let the footy out of their forward 50 for the first half of the quarter. Oxford defended brilliantly, but eventually conceded, with Pat Stirling goaling for the visitors from a free kick. Oxford didn’t take long to reply, with a quick break from the centre bounce, earning them their first goal of the day seconds after conceding.

Both teams played with more freedom after opening their accounts. Number 11 from Oxford was rewarded with a goal for his herculean efforts, filling in as ruckman against a much bigger opponent. Goals were being traded like limited edition footy cards for the remainder of the quarter, with ill-discipline from both teams proving costly. Cambridge took a 4-point advantage into the first break, with their ruckmen, Jimmy Mackenzie, imposing himself on the game in a big way.

The second quarter played out much like the first, both teams going goal-for-goal. Reece Digance from Cambridge, was showing his class collecting a heap of the footy and distributing to his forwards with aplomb. Oxford Full-forward, Charlie Rae, made his presence felt on numerous occasions, crashing packs and goaling with almost every forward entry. The half ended with the scorecard reading 5.2. 32 to 5.7. 37 in favour of Cambridge.

No game of Aussies rules game would be the same without a good old fashioned BBQ. Full credit must go to the Oxford girls who backed up from their game earlier to feed the masses and keep the crowd happy during the main break of the game.

The tension was building around the ground with everyone sensing how important the game meant to the boys playing, with neither team giving an inch. Both teams came out for the second half raring to go and it showed, with massive hits being laid all over the ground. Kiran Patel from Oxford took it upon himself to lift the home side, laying big hit after big hit. The animosity between the two sides was building, at a few points nearly boiling over, with spot-fires ensuing after every contest. This sparked the crowd into another gear, with every tackle or bump being felt around the ground. Neither team gave away any ground in the 3rd term. The gap remained 5 points leading into the final term. One kick was all it was going to take.

The 4th and final quarter opened with the crowd erupting from an Oxford goal, the boys in Blue looked like they were going to run away with it. The home crowd advantage seemed all too much for Cambridge, with Oxford dominating early on. Charlie Rae marked and goaled from an impossible angle to put Oxford up by 7 points. The immense rival between these two old foes shone through with Cambridge refusing to give up and wrestle the lead back in their favour. The clock was quickly running out of time with both team equal on the scoreboard. Enter Oxford Captain, Kyle Turner, who slotted through what turned out to be the match winning goal with only a few minutes on the clock. The crowded erupted in jubilation, but it wasn’t over yet. Cambridge had one last attacking foray forward, with bullocking ruckmen, Jimmy Mackenzie, winning a free kick just outside the 50. The siren had sounded, Cambridge needing a goal to send the game into extra time. The fairy tale wasn’t to be with the distance proving too much. Final Scores 9.4. 58 to 7.10. 52, Oxford the victors.

Jimmy Mackenzie, from Cambridge, was awarded Best on Ground honours from the Umpires, who must be thanked for their efforts on the day. A big thankful to all those who made the day such a great success. No doubt both sides will be keen to lock horns again next year, but for now Oxford can enjoy the spoils of victory along with bragging rights over their university rivals.

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Written by Benjamin Durance for AFL Europe

Oxford vs Birmingham Women’s Match 5th March 2016

It was the first ever women’s match played between Oxford and Birmingham with the Exhibition game being the curtain-raiser for the Varsity Match to follow. Ominous weather was looming prior to the game, but sunshine broke through to take the edge off the frosty wind blowing across the field.

The first quarter was dominated early by the Oxford girls. Helen Baxendale proved dominant in the middle of the ground, ensuring the ball was camped deep inside the Oxford forward 50. Finally, after 10 minutes of peppering the goals, the captain, Rachel Paterson, opened the scoring for the girls in blue. The rest of quarter evened out with some fierce contests and big hits, proving this match meant a lot to both sides. Two late goals to the ever prominent, Helen Baxendale and Emma Lawrence gave Oxford the upper hand going into the break.

The Birmingham girls came alive in the second quarter opening their account with a goal within a minute of the quarter. With the wind picking up the game turned into an arm wrestle with both teams giving away nothing. Oxford proved relentless with their pressure and burst through the Birmingham defence to pile on three goals in 5 minutes to close out the quarter. Rachel Paterson was wreaking havoc in the forward line for Oxford, finishing off the first half with three goals to her name.

The second half began with mother nature dominating preceding’s. Light hail had supporters take cover wherever it could be found. This didn’t deter the girls out on the field, however, Oxford adapted to the conditions the better of the two sides, and capitalised with a 3 goal to none quarter. Number 14, Lucy Jones, was gathering a heap of the footy for Birmingham, keeping them in the contest going into the final change.

The clearing weather inspired the Birmingham girls, kicking two goals early and mounting pressure on the Oxford team. A come-from-behind victory was on the horizon. Unfortunately, the lead proved too great and the Oxford girls held on for a historic victory on home soil. The final scorecard reading 9.8. 62 to 3.7. 25 in favour of the home team.

Notable performances from Birmingham’s, Chloe Hall, and Oxford’s Helen Baxendale and Emma Lawrence. Best on ground awards went to Lucy Jones from Birmingham and The Oxford Captain, Rachel Paterson, who ended the day with 6 goals to her name in what proved a match winning performance.

Massive congratulations to the umpires for officiating the game. Special mention needs to go to the girls who travelled up from the South East London Giants, who assisted as top up players on the day. It was a very competitive match and a great initiative from the two sides, proving the women’s game is really starting to take off abroad. Hopefully we’ll see another great match between these two sides again in the near future.

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Written by Benjamin Durance for AFL Europe

2016 Leprechaun Cup

MENS

The Belfast Redbacks Australian Rules Football Club hosted both the The Wandsworth Demons A and B in the Leprechaun Cup this weekend. The Wandsworth Demons B ended up taking home the title!

Results:

Belfast Redbacks Australian Rules Football Club 3.5.23 def. by Wandsworth Demons B 4.2.26

Wandsworth Demons B 5.5.35 def. Wandsworth Demons A 2.7.19

Wandsworth Demons A 3.5. 23 def. Belfast Redbacks 2.4.16

 

 

WOMENS

The Leprechaun Cup took place on the weekend in Belfast, Ireland. The Ulster Kookaburras, Wimbledon Hawks and Wandsworth Demons participated with the home team of the Kookaburras taking out the title at the end of the day.

Results:

Wimbledon Hawks 4.3. 27 def. by Ulster Kookaburras AFL 4.5.29

 *More photos can be found on our Facebook page

O’Neills and AFL Europe

AFL Europe and Ireland’s largest sportswear manufacturer, O’Neills have partnered up to bring our Australian Footballing Community top quality, authentic Australian Football merchandise at competitive prices.

This exciting new partnership will allow the AFL Europe community to fully customise their team playing kit and enjoy short fulfillment and delivery times direct from the factory in Ireland. Teams can design and order merchandise ranging from custom playing kit and leisurewear to scoreboards and Sherrins, from the new AFL Europe section of the O’Neills website www.oneills.com launching on the 9th March 2016.

AFL Europe CEO, Megan Hession is thrilled with this new venture, “It’s a privilege to be able to partner with a local company which has a rich heritage in sportswear and athletic competition. We are excited to offer our community a superior, fully customisable set of products. We look forward to working with Kieran Kennedy and the team at O’Neills.”

Founded in 1918 as a manufacturer for Gaelic Footballs, O’Neills is 100% Irish owned and proud of it’s Irish heritage. Being a major supplier for the GAA, the O’Neills name is well known within Gaelic Football and is synonymous with quality.

O’Neills Managing Director, Kieran Kennedy is delighted to work with Megan Hession and partner AFL Europe, “one of our key strategic business objectives is to supply AFL merchandise directly from our newly opened sales office in Adelaide. This exciting new partnership builds on this strategic vision”.

O’Neills combine cutting edge sportswear design with unbeatable delivery times. The O’Neills brand has built a reputation on delivering quality products and it strives to produce the best playing kit and teamwear using the latest technologies to enhance player performance. O’Neills is one of the last indigenous Irish companies to produce their own fabric, in a state of the art production facility in Northern Ireland with dyeing carried out in Dublin.

O’Neills supply custom designed and personalised playing gear, training gear and leisurewear for a range of sports including Gaelic games, rugby, soccer, hockey, basketball, cricket, athletics, netball and now Australian Rules.

 

For more information or to enquire about orders contact Sarah Ongarello at sarah.ongarello@afleurope.org or Orla Ward at oward@oneills.com

 

 

AFL Europe Juniors

Braving some challenging London conditions on Sunday 21st Feb, Clapham Cubs, under the AFL Europe Juniors banner, held the first session of the year. The event was open to the public aimed at both boys and girls aged 4-9 and 10-15.

After finding the most appealing piece of greenery within Clapham Common, up to 30 juniors participated in what was a memorable event. Co-ordinated by our AFL Europe Junior Development Officer, Ian Mitchell and his passionate team of coaches. As merely a spectator looking on, it was great to see so many kids, from expat families to local lovers of sport enjoying the great game and learning some new skills in the process. The activities ranged from kicking clinics to handball games and even finished off with an all in modified game of AFL! All abilities and ages were catered for throughout the two-hour session, with many kids having a kick for the first time.

The general consensus from the crowd of parents was that of gratitude for running such an event, especially with little junior presence within England for some time. This is a major focus for AFL Europe, as we look to develop and accredit teachers, parents or passionate players to become coaches. In doing so we provide them with a skills and resources to implement our junior framework across the board. This is a very exciting space and one to be watched throughout 2016.

We would like to thank Brickwood Coffee & Bread, Clapham for providing fruit and water for our juniors on the day.

If you have any queries or would like to get in touch with us in regard to coaching and or participate in a session, please don’t hesitate to contact us at AFL Europe.

 

Written by Daniel Orr for AFL Europe

Oh To Be A Richmond Fan…

My name is Rory Doran, I am a 31 year old golf professional from County Down in Northern Ireland, I live in Melbourne, and I love AFL. Or should I say, more importantly, I love The Richmond Football Club. 

“You support Richmond?!? Of all the teams you could’ve picked… you chose Richmond?”

This is a question (or possibly just a statement) that I have been faced with a lot since I arrived in Melbourne just over 4 and a half years ago. In fact, 4 years and 7 months ago I had never even heard of The Richmond Football Club. I was teaching a young Gaelic footballer how to stop slicing his tee shots on a cold and dreary September Irish morning when I delivered him the news that I was moving to Melbourne to work at the beautiful Kingston Heath Golf Club in the coming weeks. His eyes lit up and he delivered these words, so passionately as if he was moving there with me, “You’ve got to get into AFL! You’ve got to go for Richmond!”.

This young man’s name was Ben O’Reilly (doesn’t sound very Irish, does he?!?) and at the time his brother, Jamie O’Reilly was an overseas recruit at the Richmond Tigers. Once he made this statement I duly agreed to ‘barrack’ (a word I had never heard used in this context) for Richmond, provided that he would hurry up and hit a few more balls before the next sleet shower passed overhead. I didn’t think about Aussie Rules Football again, or Richmond FC, until I landed in Melbourne a month or so later.

From then on I honestly can’t remember life without AFL. I arrived the week after the 2011 Grand Final and was living with a bunch of guys who lived and breathed ‘footy’ – which was how I now needed to refer to it. It took me a little while to refer to the game that my beloved Manchester United played so well in my youth as ‘soccer’ or ‘the round ball game’.

One of my housemates, Lucas Mannix (who I had never met before), was a mad Richmond fan and he took it upon himself to educate me on Australia’s national game. Lucas pretty much had me glued to the then-new 24/7 Foxtel Footy channel watching re-runs, learning the rules, who the best players were, who the worst players were, which teams you loved beating, and which teams Richmond were always expected to beat easily but never quite managed to! He also informed me that the number ‘9’ had become deeply entrenched in Richmond’s recent history and that this was definitely not a good thing.

Nearly 6 months of this indoctrination continued and the 2012 footy season was on our doorstep. I’ll never forget wearing the Richmond guernsey and the famous yellow & black scarf for the first time, getting onto the jam-packed train to Richmond station and alighting to make the pilgrimage towards the floodlit MCG on a Thursday evening in March.

The opening siren hadn’t even sounded and I was already hooked. The sense of euphoria and nervous expectation of upwards of 80,000 people was so real you could nearly see it in the air. I was amazed, especially after how passionately my AFL ‘tutors’ had described the rivalries within the game, how the fans of both teams were sitting side-by-side. This was in stark contrast to any experience I had previously of sporting crowds of this magnitude, namely the English Premier League games I had watched at Old Trafford where fans of each team had to be not only separated but also let out of the ground at separate times to avoid conflict. This measured passion, and mutual respect for fellow AFL fans, was so clearly visible for an outsider like me going to watch my first ever game. It was so refreshing to see that there was no hate, no politics, no bravado… Just thousands and thousands of people there with a common interest- to watch a spectacle that they had so clearly missed for the 6 months of the off-season! 

The other observations that I made that really resonated with me were how many young families were in attendance, and how many females were there avidly supporting their respective sides. I honestly couldn’t believe what I had found- an incredible team sport that rarely serves up a dull moment, surrounded by this fanatical yet jovial, family-orientated, intimidation-free atmosphere. Better yet- the consumption of delicious ‘pots’ (another fantastic Australian invention in my opinion!) at quarter-time, half-time, 3-quarter time, full-time was not only acceptable but fully encouraged and was not necessarily relative to the performance of your team.

The rituals of the game are iconic. The decision to go to the bar 2 minutes before half time to avoid the line (maybe that’s just me?!?), the meat pie with the tomato sauce unloaded on top, the ridiculous line for the men’s room, the “he’s been doing to all day” jeers from the crowd, the AFL tragic sitting a few seats over from you cheering for neither team but for certain players to lift their game so he can accumulate a good SuperCoach rating. And finally- the song. I honestly thought my old housemates were joking the first time they played me the “Ohhh we’re from Tigerland…” opening line. But after 3 or 4 plays I absolutely loved it, and when I actually heard it sung with gusto for the 1st time at the MCG after a big win I just got it.

My life as a Richmond fan has not been a dull one. I am addicted to watching the game live, which is lucky because AFL has to be one of the most accessible and affordable professional team sports to spectate in the world. I’ve been to over 60 games at the MCG in the last 4 years (not all Richmond games unfortunately as many of these have been late in September), and I’m planning to up the ante further in 2016.

I have travelled to Perth to watch Richmond lose to Fremantle with the last kick of the game, I’ve jumped on an overnight bus to Adelaide straight after work to watch the Good Ol’ Tiges the following day capitulate in the first quarter against Port Adelaide in an elimination final in 2014. I’ve camped outside the MCG with one of my old housemates the night before the Grand Final to make sure he got the seats he wanted to watch his beloved Swans play on that last Saturday in September. I just love it.

I have bought into the game in a big way since I arrived here from the Emerald Isle, and I feel that this investment has been one of the best that I have ever made. The surprise in some of my Aussie friends’ eyes when they hear this Irish fellow, who still sounds like he has just got off he boat, hold a conversation on which player would be more damaging out on the wing rather than persisting through the corridor is nearly worth it on it’s own. But it is more that I have genuinely made some really strong friendships with people I have met through attending games or even just sharing passion for the game. You’re never stuck for conversation if you take an interest in this amazing game.

Following AFL has given me a huge sense of belonging in Melbourne and this is something I intend to keep going, and it is something I would strongly recommend to people from all over the world who are moving to this incredible country. I would advise newcomers to chose a side of their own which isn’t based on how successful they are, but chose a team they feel they can have a connection with. If you like the song, the colour of the jersey, the team’s nickname just go for it and don’t look back. Whether you finish top or bottom of the ladder I promise you won’t regret it.

My Aussie friends often ask me how long I will stay in Australia for and I usually reply with “I’ll at least wait until Richmond wins the flag”. Fingers crossed I’m not in for a life sentence…

 

Written by Rory Doran for AFL Europe.