AFL Europe launch new community Facebook groups

New homes for the AFL Europe community

AFL Europe is excited to announce the formation of four brand new Facebook ‘Groups’ this afternoon, which aim to help bridge the gaps between the vast European football community.

With players, coaches and umpires spread across the continent from Merseyside to Munich, Oslo to Odense, St Petersburg to Sesvete and everywhere in between, communication and the relaying of effective messaging has often proven difficult. From today, four community groups have been established to facilitate information sharing between; Clubs, Coaches, Umpires and Juniors.

The new groups will be the hub of news, information and conversation for their respective communities and aim to provide stronger links between the entire AFL Europe community, offering opportunities to collaborate outside the boundaries of countries or leagues and in turn, developing individuals, clubs and ultimately Australian Football in Europe.

Lisa Wilson, Game Development Coordinator with AFL Europe, said the groups will provide users with the opportunity to “capitalize on this incredible community we have and try and provide more links between clubs.” an amazing community to be part of with a shared love of this fantastic sport.”

“For those who came to the Champions League competition; whether as a regular or if it was a first AFL Europe tournament, most will likely have been overwhelmed by the number of men & women playing Australian Football of different nationalities across the continent,” she said.

“Perhaps they were amazed to find out that there is a strong men’s league over in Croatia, or that the Port Malmö Lynx women’s team from Sweden and Odense Lions side from Denmark have been playing for long enough that they have developed an intense rivalry. The best aspect of our events is seeing players from different clubs, countries and nationalities connecting; whether this be on the field, from the sidelines, or in the stands and over a beer.”

These Clubs, Coaches, Umpires and Juniors groups will act like forums, providing the ability for;

  • Clubs to share their events
  • Sharing of positive news stories
  • Shout outs e.g. extra players needed, spare beds at tournaments
  • Finding out about everything happening across the AFL Europe Landscape
  • Requesting information from other clubs
  • Collaboration between clubs
  • Asking for help or guidance or experience
  • Searching historic topics

These groups will be monitored to ensure that the content posted in each different community will be appropriate to the topic at hand to ensure they achieve their aim.

You can request to join any of the four groups by clicking the links below:

AFL EUROPE – CLUBS COMMUNITY

AFL EUROPE – COACHES COMMUNITY

AFL EUROPE – UMPIRES COMMUNITY

AFL EUROPE – JUNIORS COMMUNITY

Week in Review – ANZAC Cup 2018

WEEK IN REVIEW – ANZAC CUP 2018

Thursday saw the curtain pulled down on a historic 10th edition of AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneuxfor another year, with the three-day event heralded a roaring success by organisers, players, volunteers & onlookers alike.

From His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, accepting his personalised Australian guernsey from team captains Priscilla Lodge & Eddie Morgan, to the sixty local French school children attending the player led AusKick clinic, ANZAC Cup 2018 received fantastic support and culminated in two extremely competitive and well-spirited games of football.

Players arrived in Villers-Bretonneux on Tuesday and were given time to meet the local host families who would take them in for the duration of their stay, before congregating at the Stade Football Louis Timmerman in the town centre where they were met by a crowd of students and parents eager to try their hand at Australian football.

A big crowd of local students joined for an AusKick clinic run by the Australian players

The AusKick clinic ran for well over the allotted 90-minute timeframe as the number of children looking to get participate continued to grow to over sixty, with the smiles on the faces of the children only matched by those of the Australian players.

Both Australian and French sides joined for a combined training run in the evening, before a guernsey presentation at Le Melbourne pub saw Australian Captains Priscilla Lodge and Eddie Morgan deliver moving speeches about their family connection to Villers-Bretonneux and World War One.

ANZAC Day on Wednesday began in the early hours of the morning with players and staff joining to walk from town to the Australian National War Memorial, before attending a moving Dawn Service along with thousands of others looking to pay their respects on the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

Priscilla Lodge & Eddie Morgan present Australian Spirit Guernseys to Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, courtesy of O’Neills

Captains Priscilla Lodge & Eddie Morgan were treated to a moment they will never forget following the service, as they presented personalised ANZAC Cup playing guernseys to AFL Europe patron His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, and to Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

The traditional parade through the town prior to the opening bounce followed and saw adoring locals come out to welcome both teams, setting the tone for a spirited day of football.

Players from both sides parade around the streets of Villers-Bretonneux prior to the match

In front of a strong crowd, the Australian and French women opened proceedings with passionate renditions of their respective national anthems and an equally inspired brand of football, with France challenging the Australians right throughout, in a match where the final margin was far from indicative of the closeness of the contest.

The men’s match picked up from the manic intensity laid down by the girls earlier, with both sides clearly playing to win despite the terrific comradery that was on show. France looked poised to upset the Aussies midway through the third term, but a late Australian push made it two wins from two for the Spirit on the day.

See the full match reports

Women’s  Game – France 3.3 (21) def by Australian Spirit 11.8 (74) – Read here

Men’s Game – France 9.13 (67) def by Australian Spirit 12.12 (84) – Read here

Both matches were played in an uncompromising nature but with extreme sportsmanship on show, making for a tribute befitting of the legacy of the ANZAC’s who saved Villers-Bretonneux 100 years earlier.

Thursday morning saw players gather to spend an emotional morning touring the Australian Corps Memorial in Le Hamel and the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux together, before parting ways to return home to their bases around Europe, the UK and back in Australia with a lifetime of fond memories and new friendships.

Australian players at the Australian Corps Memorial in Le Hemel

 

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK FOR THEIR SUPPORT IN MAKING ANZAC CUP 2018 A HUGE SUCCESS

ANZAC Cup 2018 – Men’s Match Report

ANZAC CUP 2018 – MEN’S MATCH REPORT

The second game on a historic ANZAC Cup match day saw the men of the Australian Spirit side fight hard to triumph over France in a seesawing affair that remained in the balance deep in the final quarter.

In a contest typified by a ferocious intensity and equally commendable comradery, the well drilled French side challenged the Australian’s right throughout the match to provide a glowing endorsement for the strength of Australian Football in Europe.

Following the lead of their female counterparts in the earlier match, France brought a fierce attack on the footy right from the first bounce and got off to a blistering start when Raphael Ubeda ignited the home crowd with the opening goal of the match.

The Australian’s steadily began to work their way into the match as the opening quarter progressed, but owed the fact they were not further behind to the repeated defensive efforts of Nathan Costley at full-back, whose goal-saving spoil began a crisp transition down the outer wing that led to Jake McIntosh kicking the Aussies first goal five minutes in.

Despite the mounting Australian pressure, France held firm and was able to regain the lead just prior to quarter time courtesy of back to back goals from Julian Dagois and Pierre Boscart, before Michael Cowan kicked truly to steady the ship for the green and gold right on the quarter-time siren.

If it wasn’t clear that the French had come to play prior to the first break, the bash and crash of the second term ensured there would be no doubting that their intention was to cause a huge boilover against a highly touted Australian Spirit line-up.

Following the brutal start to the second quarter, a moment of class from Mitch Skelly extended the Australian lead, before Lloyd Quinlan threatened to open the floodgates when his shot sailed true not long after, though the French rallied with two quick goals of their own to cut the gap and swing momentum back in their favour.

Tyson Mihocek’s team lifting goal for the Aussie Spirit heading into the break was immediately cancelled out after halftime by France, with the ball spending the majority of the following ten minutes pinging between the two arcs in a pulsating third quarter as both sides battled for ascendancy.

Majors to Dan Clifford and Jake McIntosh’s eventually threatened to blow the game apart, but once more the French answered the challenge thanks to captain Pierre Boscart, whose strong contested mark and goal late in the quarter ensured the match was poised on a knifes edge heading into the final change.

Trailing by just 12 points at three-quarter time, the France tenacity continued to rattle the cages of the Australian players early in the fourth quarter until Mitch Skelly once again stood up to deliver a body blow with a goal from long range.

Nathan Costley snuck forward soon after and kicked truly from his set shot to put the game beyond doubt, but the ultra-impressive French side continued to fight the match out until the final siren in a brave performance that was well and truly befitting of the occasion.

Final Score:

France 9.13 (67) def by Australian Spirit 12.12 (84)

 

Best on Ground:

Mitch Skelly (Australia)

Vincent Monnier (France)

Tom Rischbieth & Eddie Morgan accept the trophy from John McClusky of the National Australia Bank.

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

ANZAC Cup 2018 – Women’s Match Report

ANZAC CUP 2018 – WOMEN’S MATCH REPORT

The Australian spirit women kicked off the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup in the impressive fashion on Wednesday afternoon, overcoming a passionate and highly competitive French outfit by 53 points in Villers-Bretonneux.

On a big day for both nations and the local community, girls from both sides provided a contest befitting of the occasion in every way possible, with a hard-fought and extremely well-spirited match played in front of a strong crowd.

It was the French women who set the tone early on as a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise carried across to a dominant opening five minutes of the match, with the home side dictating terms and able to capitalise on their dominance courtesy of a classy finish on the run from Camille Portal.

The Australian side gradually worked their way into the match courtesy of some strong midfield work from Katie Stone, Annie Shewring and Caitlyn Jeffress, who gave their side the ascendency going forward and wrestled the lead back heading into quarter time.

Despite trailing at the first change, France started the second term just as they did the first and held the authority with a manic attack on the football and some sharp skills in transition to impress the big crowd, although they were unable to convert their work onto the scoreboard.

Caitlin Fay ensured that the Aussies avoided the same potency issues up the other end, putting her hand up for an early goal of the day contender and arresting momentum from the French with a spectacular dribble kick from a tight angle that sparked her teammates into gear.

From that point on the second term became the Maddy Murphy show, as the Aussie spearhead produced a blistering five-minute stint to kick three goals and provide her side a strong buffer to counter the fighting efforts of the Portal sisters, Melanie Leroy & Helene Pittet for France.

The women in blue continued to impress after halftime with Bridgett Allen owning the outer wing and Naima Al El Mouten lively up forward, but Aussie Caitlyn Jeffress added to the scoreboard pressure with the help of Australian captain Priscilla Lodge who provided a classy presence in the ruck.

The French highlight for the game came just prior to the final break when Melanie Colot dashed clear of three Australian defenders to reach a ground ball first and delivered a tidy soccered finish that would not look out of place at Russia’s Luzhniki Stadium this June.

Amy Taylor’s passion for the day was clear for all to see as she opened the scoring for the Australian’s in the final term, with a celebration that is likely to feature on ANZAC Cup highlights tapes for years to come and capping off a superb contest, where the final margin was far from reflective of the evenness of the match.

Final Score

France 3.3 (21) def by Australian Spirit 11.8 (74)

 
Best on Ground

Annabel Shewring (Australia)

Camille Portal (France)

Australian Spirit Captain Priscilla Lodge and Coach Tom Rischbieth accept the trophy

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

 

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Eddie Morgan

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Eddie Morgan

On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.

Eddie Morgan will have the honour of captaining his country this ANZAC Day when he steps out for the Australian Spirit side in Villers-Bretonneux, carrying with him one of the more remarkable connections to the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux of anyone in Australia, not only those featuring in the ANZAC Cup.

100 years ago to the day, his great-great grandfather General Thomas William Glasgow was tasked with the responsibility of commanding the Australian counter attack to reclaim Villers-Bretonnuex after German forces successfully broke through the allied lines to take the town which was of great tactical importance.

Glasgow’s leadership saw the attack from the 13th and 15th brigades postponed from 8pm until 10pm to enable his troops the added protection from the cover of darkness, and despite the 13th brigade at one stage being surrounded on three sides by enemy forces, Glasgow’s men prevailed. It was a feat that Sir John Monash later described at the turning point in the war, coming exactly three years after the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli.

The victory came at a significant cost to the Australians however, with 2,473 Australian lives lost fighting to protect the small French town.

General Glasgow had previously served Australia in the Boer war in 1897 and at Gallipoli prior to moving to the Western Front, later progressing into politics and serving as the first High Commissioner to Canada in a decorated career that now sees him immortalised in bronze on the junction of Turbot and Roma street in Brisbane.

Now, 100 years after arguably Glasgow’s finest hour, his great-great-grandson will set foot onto the field with his ancestor front of mind.

 

He [Glasgow] has certainly left a legacy! A highly decorated and esteemed Australian who served his country with great distinction… his achievements are seemingly impossible to emulate but he certainly stood for values which I would hope have filtered down to our generation,” Morgan said.

“I am both excited and nervous at the prospect of representing the ANZAC’s at a place that holds so much history but I am very much looking forward to being in the exact place that it all happened… it will be emotional for all involved.”

As a day that is very important to the Morgan family, an occasion such as this will provide a very special and humbling experience for the Australian Spirit skipper.

“A typical ANZAC day for our family has always involved football. The Broken Hill Football league celebrates ANZAC day with the anthem, last post and after match presentations, Collingwood vs Essendon is also a highlight…,” he said.

“The aspect I am looking forward to the most is representing our family. Football has been a huge part of my life and to be involved in a historic event such as this is extremely humbling.”

“It is an extremely special connection to Villers-Brettoneux and one I am very proud of. I am both excited and nervous at the prospect of representing the ANZAC’s at a place that holds so much history. I am very much looking forward to being in the exact place that it all happened, I can imagine it will be emotional for all involved.”

 Will Taylor & Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank

Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Rianne Coldebella

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Rianne Coldebella

On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

The classroom at St Joseph’s Primary School in Elsternwick in 2018 is about as far a contrast to the battlefields of the Western Front in 1918 as you could possibly imagine, but thanks to teacher Rianne Coldebella, students will soon have a living and breathing reference point for their studies.

Rianne is set to join 33 fellow Australian’s in making the pilgrimage to the town of Villers-Bretonneux in the north of France this ANZAC Day to honour the fallen in a way she would never have deemed possible growing up; as a player in the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup.

As the great-granddaughter of Frederick Buckingham, who served his country as part of the 8th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, Rianne brings strong WW1 ties to Villers-Bretonneux which she is looking forward to honouring.

Fred Buckingham in Cairo, 1915

“It is an enormous honour to represent Australia and commemorate Australia’s contribution at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux which is such a special part of Australia’s history, and It is also an honour to pay tribute to my great-grandfather and his service,” Rianne said.

“This opportunity is accepted with an enormous sense of gratitude and obligation given the significance of the game and the history it represents and commemorates… My family are very proud that I am representing my country and family internationally.”

Frederick Buckingham was only 22 years old when he left Melbourne in February 1915 to join the fight for King and Country, where the young man from the farm hills of South Gippsland would find himself in the desert serving amongst the pyramids in Cairo before heading to Gallipoli.

He returned to Australia in 1918 after contracting tuberculosis which would eventually claim his life.

One hundred years after his return from the battlefield, his great-granddaughter will head to one of Australia’s most famous theatres of war to not only pay her respects, but with the aim of using her experience to contextualise ANZAC history for her students, as well as inspiring the next generation of female footballers.

Fred Buckingham pictured with his football side in 1921 after his return from war.

Despite coming from a passionate football family, Rianne admits she never considered that actually playing the game would be a possibility for her as a female growing up, something that only changed in 2017 whilst she was living in London.

“I have always had a passion for football… my mum refers to me as her third son because of my passion for sport and in particular football… but unfortunately for me growing up I didn’t think it was a possibility to participate,” Rianne said.

After years of watching from the sidelines, Rianne finally jumped into the deep end to play with the Wandsworth Demons, a decision which she said, “completely transformed my time in London.”

“The benefits extended beyond the football field… working toward and winning a grand final was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and being a female, something I would never have thought I could be achieving playing AFL”

Now, she hopes her experiences in Villers-Bretonneux can help widen her students thinking regarding females in sport.

“A note went home to my class’s parents noting that I will be on leave for two weeks and detailed why, and the support and encouragement from the parents who came up to me the following day and days after was incredible,” she said.

“Everyone was so happy and excited for me. It was truly amazing. Of these parents, one of them who has a daughter in my class said she is keen to play Auskick now. This was what I was hoping to inspire.”

Stay across afleurope.org and AFL Europe social media channels for more news and build-up to ANZAC Cup 2018.

ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank

Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Jake McIntosh

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Jake McIntosh

On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

At age 31, Jake McIntosh is already something of a local football nomad, though you could never accuse him of trekking the path well-worn.

From his junior days at Mines Rovers in Kalgoorlie, Jake packed his bags for the big lights of Sydney in to ply his trade for the Sydney Redbacks, before becoming heavily involved with the Southern Power in both playing and administrative roles. After his stint on the famous Shire, the natural progression was a move to London, where he now steps out for the North London Lions.

Despite rivalling Burke and Wills for distance covered through his career so far, Jake is now preparing to embark on the football adventure of a lifetime to the small town of Villers-Bretonneux in the North of France, where he will represent the Australian Spirit Side on April 25th in the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup against Frances national Australian Football team.

The 2018 ANZAC Cup will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, with the match played as part of the local ‘Australia Week’ celebrations that honour the sacrifices made by the diggers who reclaimed the town from German forces on the night of April 24th, 1918.

Jake was always well placed to be one of the 34 Australian’s who would be chosen by AFL Europe to take part in the match, with the selections criteria emphasising the applicants personal connection to the armed forces over specific football credentials. In that regard, Jake was close to unrivaled.

 

 

His military bloodlines span three generations and stem back to World War One, where his great-great Grandfather Isaac Lefevere fought at Gallipoli, while his great-great-great Uncle John Carr was killed in action fighting for the very town Jake will spend ANZAC Day experiencing.

As if that wasn’t enough, Jake’s great uncles Len, Robert, Edward & Harry Smith all served in New Guinea during World War Two, before his Grandfather, Allen West, went on to serve in the Royal Australian Navy for close to a decade from 1953.

It is a family history that Jake will be proud to honour in Villers-Bretonneux this ANZAC Day, describing how his strong relationship with his grandfather is set to be a focal point of his experience.

“My grandfather was extremely emotional and we’ve spoken extensively about the opportunity in the last few weeks. He and my grandmother have been huge inspirations of mine and they’ve said they’d like nothing more than to come to the dawn service and the game and be part of the experience with me… which would be a dream come true to be able to share that experience with him,” Jake said.

“Representing your country playing sport is about as big as honour as I can imagine, and on ANZAC day at the location of such an important event in Australian history, I will be reflecting on those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Jakes passion for the day is clear for all to see, having been a regular participant in the ANZAC march, at Dawn Services and as a player previously, but he expects his Villers-Bretonneux experience will top all of that.

“Having been abroad for 3 years, my pride as an Australian has grown exponentially. Having already had the chance to visit Gallipoli, I understand the emotion felt when setting foot in an area so famous in our national history, so to be in Villers-Bretonneux on the 100th anniversary of the battle and representing my country would be something my family and I would treasure for the rest of our lives, and quite easily be the greatest and proudest moment of my life.”

Stay across afleurope.org and AFL Europe social media channels for more news and build-up to ANZAC Cup 2018.

ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank

Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup

German Country Report

German Country Report

With the 2018 season fast approaching, we’re continuing to take a look at each of the countries in our AFL Europe community to get a snapshot of how Aussie Rules kicked off in their nation, some of their highlights, and some of their goals for 2018. Next up are Germany, who have a rich history in footy and are looking to build on their already strong competition in 2018. We got the inside word from AFL Germany President Fabian Cordts. 

 

Give us a quick snapshot of AFL in Germany.

AFL in Germany is largely organised around one league of seven teams. The game format is 9 aside during the regular season and followed by a 16 a side finals series. Notably, apart from the very young clubs every club managed to take the flag once in club history. Since 2013 there have been four different premiers. So, it’s fair to say that we have a competitive, and interesting competition going on. The number of players varies from season to season, but we have a consistent base of roughly 250 active players. Apart from the club competition, the German Eagles are representing Germany at the international level. With a solid pool of around 45 players we have been able to steadily improve performance in international competitions over the last couple of years. Apart from the premiership there have been regional leagues popping up in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg. These smaller AFLX type of leagues are a great way to get new players introduced to the game and provide players with an extra bit of game time.

 

History of AFL in Germany.

The first competition took place in 1999 with two clubs from Frankfurt and Munich competing. The first league structure was introduced in 2003. Over the years a league of eight teams build up located in Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart and Freiberg. Freiberg and Stuttgart joint this season to participate in the competition as the Württemberg Giants.

 

What were some of the highlights of AFL in Germany in 2017?

No doubt participating in the International Cup in 2017 was a big achievement for the AFLG if not for Germany as a country. It was the first time we managed to send a team down to Melbourne and took the second place in the second division. On the club level Berlin managed to win the premiership for the first time in AFLG history last year and we are confidently looking forward towards the Champions League in Amsterdam where they will hopefully be able to build on the very good previous results of German teams from Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.

 

What are your top three goals for 2018? 

This year the AFLG underwent some changes in terms of organization. Work was shared more evenly across more shoulders and by that we hope to move forward and develop on various levels. First, and probably long overdue we are trying to establish a women’s competition. As put brilliantly in a meeting last year: Bring in the girls and the boys will follow. Second, we are trying to establish a connection between the clubs and local universities. Stuttgart and Cologne have already done so and are therefore appearing in the official sports program of the universities of Stuttgart and Cologne, respectively. Third, we would like to take the momentum from last year’s International Cup into the next season and keep growing the national team- both for men and women.

 

A player to watch in 2018?

After spending a year in Melbourne, we are happy to welcome back Philipp Evermann in the comp. He proved to be one of the leading players in the International Cup and is also spearheading a lot of initiatives to grow his local club in Cologne (Rheinland Lions). Players like Phil, who give 100% on and off the field keep the sport alive in small leagues like ours.

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Mitch Skelly

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Mitch Skelly

 

Mitch Skelly certainly knows a thing or two about Aussie Rules football in Europe.

As the newly appointed Head Coach of the England Vixens and the current women’s coach for the Wandsworth Demons in the AFL London league, Mitch is well across the AFL landscape in a continent foreign to Australia’s game.

His connection to Australia’s Armed Forces stems mainly from the Second World War. On his father’s side, his grandfather Stanley Skelly (pictured on the left above) was an air frame mechanic for the RAF.

Spending several years in Palestine and Egypt working tirelessly to keep the fleet active and battle ready, Stanley was an accomplished footballer and played in various matches arranged to keep morale of troops up.

“These games were fond memories of his during a challenging time, another reason that keeping the tradition of sporting events played in honour of these soldiers is such a great idea.”

His mother’s uncles Bob Frazer and George Burgess also served in the Air Force during WW2, leaving him with three family connections in relation to World War Two.

But his connection to the armed services does not just stop there.

Unknown to Mitch until recently was story of his great grandfather John Orwin, who served in WW1. He was in the West Yorkshire Regiment and was fighting in France when he became the victim of a gas attack. Fortunately, Orwin survived and was discharged in early 1918. It left Mitch’s great grandfather with serious respiratory difficulties that endured for the remainder of his life.

The service record of John Orwin showing he was discharged one hundred years ago in 1918.

Apart from his family connections to the Armed Forces, Mitch has also built a strong connection the Australia’s brigades through Ivanhoe Amateur Football Club.

It’s a club that Mitch played at for nearly ten years and during 2015, his side decided to put some time into researching the war history at their club as a way of honouring 100 years of the Gallipoli landings. Mitch remembers this process vividly and the touching stories that came out during this period.

“In one of the most moving moments of my football life our club president read out the names and backgrounds of 10 players who were either wounded or killed during the war, some of which were in France, others in Turkey.”

“What touched me most was knowing these were just local boys like myself and my team mates sitting in the club rooms that night. Some were teenagers, others into their 30’s with wives and children. They lived on Green St, Marshall St, Ford St; literally just around the corner from where I was living and roads I travelled daily. They were premiership players, half back flanks, rovers and many also played cricket for Ivanhoe.

“One story in particular focused on Robert Thomas Scott, he was a champion footballer who represented the league and played in the clubs first ever premiership in 1913. Scott, aged 22, was one of the 600 Australians to lose their lives at the first landings in Gallipoli on April 25 1915, and his mother had to wait many years before his remains were located and he could finally be put to rest at the Lone Pine Cemetery.”

It is knowing that people like Robert Thomas Scott, young blokes, guys like himself and his friends, that makes Mitch feel so fortunate and lucky to be both an Australian and to live the life that he does.

“In our generation we’ve never had a serious threat to our national security, and we owe a great deal to those that went to war in years gone by.”

“It would be an honour to represent the ANZAC’s, especially those who lost their lives from the Ivanhoe footy club, in France this year and take part in the dawn service to remember the 100th year since the battle of Villers-Bretonneux.”

Now named in the Australian Spirit side that will play on ANZAC Day in 2018, Mitch will get his wish and will take his place in V-B during this special anniversary year.

Back in 1913, this was the Ivanhoe Amateur Football Club.

 

Will Taylor – AFL Europe

Stay across afleurope.org and AFL Europe social media channels for more news and build-up to ANZAC Cup 2018.

 

 

ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank

Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup

Champions League 2018 Tournament Review

Champions League 2018 Tournament Review

The best of the best from throughout the continent made their way to Amsterdam over the weekend to contest the highly acclaimed 4th annual AFL Europe Champions League trophy.

With 24 teams from 14 nations competing in the tournament, this year’s edition of the Champions League featured more talent and more players than any other previous competitions.

Held at the Sportpark de Eendracht with 54 matches across the day to decide the champions across both men’s and women’s divisions, the tournament continued to press it’s claims as one of Australian Footballs premier international spectacles.

 

Women’s Competition

Group Stages

Coming into the tournament, the women’s competition seemed from the outside to be very competitive and very open. With three teams making their debut at the Champions League, including a German side competing for the first time as a squad in the Hamburg Dockers, it was a case of expecting the unexpected when it came to the girls side of things.

Group A featured a pool of just three teams including Port Malmo Lynx, Odense Lionesses and the Hamburg Dockers. From the outset, the quality of this pool was on show with Odense picking up their first victory in a tight affair against the Hamburg Dockers. Unfortunately for the German side, they would lose both their pool games to very strong opposition. Port Malmo Lynx showed their superiority and class putting six goals through the Dockers in their first match, before losing a tight affair to Odense by just two points in the final game of the group. As these teams were a part of a pool of three, both the Lynx and the Lionesses made it through to the semi-finals.

Pool B featured the reigning AFL London league champions the Wandsworth Demons, along with young guns the Nottingham Scorpions, Bordeaux Bombers and West Clare Waves. Despite the Demons strong form throughout the tournament, it would be the West Clare Waves that would finish on top of Pool B. Going through the group stages undefeated, the Waves made their intentions clear from the outset with a six goal to nothing victory over the Bordeaux Bombers. The Wandsworth Demons also kicked six goals against the Bombers after putting on a convincing performance against the Scorpions. This set up a showdown to decide who would top Pool B, with the Demons coming up short against a fast, slick and hungry Waves lineup. In the remaining fixture, the Scorpions were able to pick up their first win at a Champions League competition against Bordeaux.

 

 

Finals

Coming into the semi finals, both women’s matches looked on paper to be quite close affairs. This however would not be the case, with the Wandsworth Demons and West Clare Waves flexing their muscles come finals time. On Pitch 1, the Waves started strongly and didn’t look back with a comfortable 37 point victory over the Lynx. Likewise on Pitch 2, the Demons posted their highest score for the tournament against the Lionesses, on their way to a 39 point win. It was all set for a rematch between the Waves and the Demons in the final.

The final started like you would expect most finals to start. Very close and heavily contested, until the Waves took their game to another level. Punishing the Demons errors, the Waves were able to make the most of their opportunities and eventually ran out 29 point winners. A first win for the West Clare Waves at a Champions League competition, made even sweeter by defeating one of the powerhouses of football in Europe.

 

Men’s Competition

Group Stages

The men’s competition at this year’s Champions League featured four groups with great contest and close matches featuring in every group. The West London Wildcats would go into the tournament as favourites, looking for a historic four-peat and Champions League immortality with victory in Amsterdam. They got off to the perfect start, easily accounting for the Bristol Dockers, Zagreb Dockers and ALFA Lions in Group C and conceding just three goals on their way to the semi-finals.

Their London rivals the Wandsworth Demons also got off to a terrific start in Amsterdam. Featuring in the pool of five in Group B including the Sesvete Double Blues, Stockholm Dynamite, Styrian DownUnder Dogs, Winterthur Lions, the Demons went through unbeaten and unscathed to top their respective group. Elsewhere in Group B, the Dynamite, Dogs and Double Blues all pinched wins and valuable experience moving forward in 2018.

The Leeside Lions entered the Sportpark de Eendracht as a serious contender for the Champions League title. Alongside the Copenhagen Barracudas, Oslo Crows and Manchester Mosquitoes in Group D, the Lions made their intentions clear very early with a 58 point win over the Oslo Crows. They then followed this performance up with an 18 point victory against the Barracudas. As their biggest competitor within the group, the Manchester Mosquitoes also won their first two matches. They just beat the Barracudas by a singular goal before finding some form against the Crows in their second match. As predicted, the winner of Manchester and Leeside would make it through to the semi-finals, and it was Leeside who got the job done. In a tight affair, the Lions won by 14 points and booked their place in the last four.

Runners-up from last year’s tournament and the competitions hosts the Amsterdam Devils, entered the 2018 Champions League with a point to prove. In a pool featuring the Greater Glasgow Giants, North West Eagles and Berlin Crocodiles, the Devils would need to overcome some fierce competition to make their way to the finals. It was clear from the early games in this pool that the Crocodiles and the Devils were the two teams vying for the top spot in Group A. The Berlin boys started off strongly with big wins against the Eagles and the Giants. Likewise the Devils easily accounted those opponents to set up a crucial match against the hosts. The Crocodiles vs Devils showdown was a match that had everything. Goals, great marks, fantastic tackles and fierce pressure, created a match that was decided by just one singular kick. In the end, it was Amsterdam who just got over the line against their German opponents by just one goal.

 

 

Finals

Two massive semi-finals headlined the close nature of the men’s competition at the Champions League in 2018.

On Pitch 1, cross-town rivals the West London Wildcats and the Wandsworth Demons would battle it out in a London derby not to be missed. The Demons tried their hearts out but the Wildcats were just too good. After a reasonably close first half, the Wildcats broke the game open in the second to win by 27 points and make their way to the Grand Final.

On Pitch 2, the Amsterdam Devils looked to make it back to back finals by taking care of the Leeside Lions. Playing in front of a large and loud crowd, the Devils took their fans on a roller-coaster ride. The Lions were brave and fought back on numerous occasions, but it was the Devils who yet again made their way through to the final by just two points. For the second straight game, the Devils had made their way through to the next stage of the tournament by a very bare margin.

For the second time in a row, it would be Amsterdam and West London in the men’s grand final. Although Amsterdam had only just scrapped wins in their previous two games, the Devils started the final in very promising fashion. In a very hotly contested first half, the sides went into the main break at eight points a piece in a low scoring affair. The start of the second half was always going to be vital for Amsterdam to stay in touch with the reigning champions and they tried their best to keep with the talented Wildcats outfit. But with too many stars and too much class, it was the Wildcats who broke away from the Devils in the second half to claim their fourth consecutive Champions League crown by 20 points. An achievement showcasing their superiority as a football club in Europe.

 

An event such as this is not possible without the support and fantastic efforts of many people throughout the day. A special mention and a big thank you to the umpiring squad who officiated the matches on the day for their outstanding contribution to the sport in Europe.

The umpire contingent at the Champions League in 2018.

Once again, our thanks must be said to AFL Netherlands for their superb management of this event in combination with the team at Spark United & Sportpark de Eendracht for hosting us and Drovers Dog for providing extra food and beverage options.

To all the volunteers and pitch managers who work so hard throughout the day and the team managers, we applaud you for your service to the sport and thank you once again for ensuring the day could run as smoothly as possible.

We would also like to acknowledge and the Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands Brett Mason and Tony Pubjie the First Consul of the Australian Embassy to the Netherlands for coming along and supporting this fantastic event by presenting the Champions trophies and the Team of the Tournament jumpers.

To the players and coaches, congratulations on an outstanding tournament played in great spirit both on and off the field.

You all represented your leagues proudly.

Good luck with your 2018 seasons!

 

 

 

Will Taylor – AFL Europe