Commemoration Game Wrap

*Cover photo courtesy of Mark McPartland 

Just over 100 years on from the 1916 Pioneers Exhibition game at the Queens Club in West Kensington, last year’s two AFL London grand finalists squared off in round 1 to acknowledge this special moment in Australian history.

The Grand Final rematch doubled as a special one-off commemoration game of the Pioneers Exhibition match, with the West London Wildcats wearing the replica kit of the Third Division and the Wandsworth Demons doning the Combined Training Units uniform.

The teams came together for a minute’s silence, the last post and the national anthem prior to the game, building to the significance of the match.

Both sides, with a host of changes from the 2016 grand final teams, were keen to stamp their authority on the contest early.

The ruck battle was always going to be a great showdown with GB big men, Alex Watson of the Demons and Matt Warwick of the Wildcats going head-to-head to try and best serve their midfielders.

The Demons gained the ascendancy early with their relentless pressure around the footy resulting in some early goals. The Wildcats strong marking forwards were started to find the footy through hit up leads and they kept the game within a kick at the first change.

It was much of the same in second term with Demons skipper, Geoff Rouse and Wests, Zac Bozanich trading goals to keep the scores tight going into the main break after a fiery first half.

The Demons came out the better of the two sides in the third term piling on the goals to lead by 5 majors going into the final change.

As good sides do, the Wildcats responded and kicked the first 3 goals of the final quarter closing the gap to 9-points. The Demons clicked into another gear and blow the game right open from this point on, controlling the momentum and hitting the scoreboard in the process, registering the final 5 goals of the game to run our 40-point victors.

Final scorecard reading 17.11.113 to 12.1.73 in favour of the Demons.

Both the West London Wildcats and the Wandsworth Demons need to be thanked for working so hard getting this special match up and running and for being so accommodating by welcoming Lizzie Kirkham into their clubs. It was certainly a very special occasion to be a part of with the 48 players and 2 umpires involved representing themselves and their clubs with the utmost respect.

*Photos courtesy of Danny Radis

Commemoration Match – West London Wildcats v Wandsworth Demons

Commemoration Game – West London Wildcats v Wandsworth Demons

Chiswick Rugby Club, W4 2SH

3:30pm

On the 28th October 1916, two teams of Australian soldiers took to the field in London to play a match of Aussie Rules, raising much needed funds for the Red Cross.

Over 100 years on, two AFL London clubs will commemorate the 1916 Exhibition Match by opening the 2017 Season in replica kit.

In what is also a 2016 grand final rematch, the West London Wildcats host the Wandsworth Demons at the Chiswick Rugby Club.

Last year’s premiers, the Wildcats, will be hoping to continue with their 2016 and 2017 pre-season form in tomorrow’s encounter. They were convincing winners in last year’s grand final controlling large portions of the match, and eventually ran out as 51-point winners.

Having added a third consecutive AFL Europe Champions League to their trophy cabinet, and claiming the AFL London Pre-Season Cup, they’ll go into this clash as deserved favorites.

With the nature of the AFL London player turnover year-to-year, round 1 always offers up a few surprises. Both clubs have experienced large player exodus’ so the two team’s new recruits will be on show.

The Demons were left reeling after a disappointing end to their 2016 campaign. Saving their worst performance for the year until last should’ve provided extra motivation for their squad this off-season.

They’ll come out firing in tomorrow’s clash knowing they’ve got a lot to prove against the competition’s benchmark.

The extra significance this match will hold is something all players, coaches, spectators and clubs will remember for a long time.

Both clubs have been incredible in their preparations for this commemoration match and should be congratulated for all their efforts.

Check out the AFL article on the match HERE

Coach’s thoughts – West London Wildcats – Keith Della-Vedova

“We have been building towards Round 1 since January and everyone is pumped for it to have finally arrived after doing it tough during the cold months. We have a good mixture of experience and fresh faces across all grades with the extra excitement of having our inaugural women’s team debuting tomorrow as well.

Being involved in the recreation of the Pioneer Exhibition Game from over 100 years ago is a fantastic experience to be a part of, having Lizzie Kirkham come down to share her knowledge and passion for the project of Aussie footballers involved in WW1 has been a really humbling experience. Hopefully across all 4 grades we can deliver the same spirit and commitment the Third Division did during the war 100 years ago and celebrate their memories of those who gave us the chance to be here today.”

Coach’s thoughts – Wandsworth Demons – Francis Caldow

“It’s great to have footy back for another season and there’s no better way to kick it off than with a grand final rematch. This year will be extra special with the 100-year commemoration celebrations in what should be a fantastic day down at Chiswick.

Our senior team has been lucky to keep a strong core group of players and this should hold us in good stead for this week and the season ahead.

Wildcats are a super team to compete against and continue to be the benchmark of the league. It is awesome to be involved with such high-level football on this side of the equator.”

Team Lists

West London Wildcats

Keith Della-Vedova

Jared Risol

Stephen Staunton

Zak Bozanich

Jonny O’Duifinn

James Stevenson

Mack Williams

Ryan Sullivan

Mike Gregson

Jack Wood

Tyson Mihocek

Lewis Brackstone

Paul Hinkley

Adam Rice

Stuie Ward

Cameron Cope

Lewis Gedney

Andrew Ibberson

James Shanahan

Jarrod Bennetts

Sam Taggart

Evan Johnson

Matt Warwick

Andy Challis (Captain)

Wandsworth Demons

Jack Wheeler

Sam Drake

Hugo Phillips

Harry Lahy

Josh ‘Jet’ Beattie

Alex Watson

Andy Smith

Riccardo Leumann

Jack Andrews

Ben Durance

Kevin O’Brien

Eoin O’Murchu

Dom Chao

Matt Decler

Alan Tobin

Mick Pitman

Danny Reid

Will Sutton

Adam Jeffrey

Nick Noblett

Sam Bowler

Ash Walsh

Michael Curcio

Geoffrey Rouse (Captain)

 

Good luck to all the clubs kicking off their season on Saturday. Check out the full AFL London round 1 fixtures HERE