Champions League Fixture Reveal

Champions League Fixture Reveal

Riley Brettell & Will Taylor – AFL Europe

With just two sleeps until the first siren of the 2018 Champions League, fans travelling to Amsterdam can officially get their diary out and map out their day watching one of the premier international spectacles for Australian football, with the official Champions League fixture revealed below.

SEE THE FULL FIXTURE HERE

FIXTURE EXPLAINED

AFL Europe began the fixturing process by undertaking a process that ranked all 24 clubs using the most recent 3-year history of their league’s results, in order to create a draw that would best deliver a fair fixture for all competing sides.

The resultant draw saw the 17 teams competing in the men’s division divided into three groups of four teams and one group of five teams, while the 7 sides contesting the women’s division were separated into one group of four and another group of three teams.

Given the disparity between some group sizes, match length has been shortened slightly for matches in Men’s Group B (5 teams) and Women’s Group B (4 teams) teams to ensure that playing and rest time is ultimately even between all 24 clubs across the day.

Teams will play each other team in their pool once throughout the group stages, with the top side in each men’s pool, and top two sides in women’s pools progressing to semi-finals.

SEVEN MATCHES YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS

The Hosts Charge Begins 

Amsterdam Devils vs North West Eagles – Men’s Pool A, Pitch 1, 10:05am

The locals won’t have to wait long before getting a glimpse of their hometown stars, with the Devils facing the North West Eagles of Italy in their opening match of the tournament on the big stage of Pitch 1, as they look to go one better in 2018 after falling to a strong West London side in the final of Champions League 2017.

While the weight of expectation will be on the Devils, North West will be looking to throw the cat amongst the pigeons early in a competitive pool where wins will be hard to come by, with these clubs joined by the Berlin Crocodile & Greater Glasgow Giants in Group A.

 

West-London Build Their Defence

West London Wildcats vs Bristol Dockers – Men’s Pool C, Pitch 2, 10:40am

Another Champions League title is on the agenda for the West London Wildcats in 2018 and they will begin their campaign with an all England match-up against the Bristol Dockers. The Wildcats will face some tough assignments right throughout the group stages after being drawn alongside the ALFA Lions, Zagreb Dockers & Bristol in Pool C, but should they progress out of the group, the possibility of a huge London Derby against the Wandsworth Demons looming in the semi-finals.

 

Hamburg Dockers A First For Germany

Hamburg Dockers vs Odense Lionesses – Women’s Pool A, Pitch 3, 11:15am

It will be a historic day for football in Germany as the nations first-ever women’s side kick off their Champions League with a huge matchup against the Odense Lionesses. Far from just a significant game from a symbolic perspective, the clash will have big ramifications in the makeup of the women’s division given the sides spot in the smaller Pool A, which will see two of the three sides progress to the Semi-Finals.

The girls from both sides will be determined to get a win on the board ahead of their second pool games against the Port Malmo Lynx, who shape as one of the leading contenders for the women’s title at this year’s tournament, meaning a win here will go a long way to solidifying a spot in the top four.

 

Pool B Movers and Shakers

Wandsworth Demons vs Bordeaux Bombers – Women’s Pool B, Pitch 2, 12:25pm

Not since the 2004 AFL Elimination Final has a Bombers v Demons game looked quite so enthralling, as the reigning AFL London Premiers Wandsworth come up against a Bordeaux lineup chocked full of talent and Champions League experience.

We will have a good indication of the potential final makeup of women’s Pool B already following the first round matches which should only add to the stakes ahead of this one, with the pool rounded out by debutants West Clare Waves & Nottingham Scorpions. Expect fireworks!

 

Docker Derby

Bristol Dockers vs Zagreb Dockers – Men’s Pool C, Pitch 3, 2:1opm

The purple haze is set to descend on Amsterdam, with a huge match between the Dockers of Bristol and Zagreb set to have a huge bearing on the final makeup of Mens Pool C.

The Croatians of Zagreb bringing a young but powerful side to Amsterdam and hope to feature deep in the tournament, while the Bristol Dockers will fly the flag once again for Welsh league with the same objective. With the reigning champion West London Wildcats amongst their Pool C ranks, both sides will be desperately seeking a win to set them up for a progression into to the semi-finals.

 

ARFLI vs AFLCNE

Leeside Lions vs Manchester Mosquitoes – Men’s Pool D, Pitch 1, 02:45pm

As far as Pool D goes, this is a match that all teams will be keeping a close eye on. The final game in Pool D sees the Leeside Lions come up against the Manchester Mosquitoes in what will be a must-win clash for both sides. Both bring in strong recent form their respective competitions and this match shapes up as a potential pseudo knockout match ahead of the semi-finals. Both of these sides will be hoping to progress to the semi’s and open up a chance at a Grand Final birth.

 

FOLLOW ALL THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ACTION THIS SATURDAY LIVE ON BARTV FROM 9:30AM AND ACROSS ALL AFL EUROPE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS

National Australia Bank join the AFL Europe Team!

National Australia Bank join the AFL Europe team!

AFL Europe are pleased to announce that National Australia Bank will come on board as the major partner for the ANZAC Cup in 2018.

The ANZAC Cup is in its 10th year, with the annual match between the Australian Spirit and the French national sides, to be played in the small French town of Villers-Bretonneux.

The 2018 ANZAC Cup will be extra special with it not only being the 10th ANZAC Cup, but also the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. As such, the matches this year will take place on Wednesday the 25th April following the Dawn Service.

The town of Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France has a strong connection with the Australian Armed Forces. On 24th April 1918, the town was captured by German forces, however overnight the Australian troops retaliated and by dawn the following day had reclaimed the town.

The ANZAC Cup is played between the Australian Spirit and the French national men’s and women’s sides as part of the ‘Australia Week’ celebrations held in Villers-Bretonneux each year.

AFL Europe General Manager, Ryan Davey, said he is delighted to form the new partnership with a company entrenched in football development like National Australia Bank.

“It is fantastic to have such an iconic Australian company partner with AFL Europe. Particularly a company which is synonymous with the growth and development of AFL throughout Australia via the NAB AFL AusKick program, NAB Rising Stars pathway and the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Competition. The ANZAC Cup is an incredibly important event on the AFL Europe calendar and it is an event that goes beyond a game of AFL – we are thrilled to partner with National Australia Bank for this special occasion.”

John McClusky, Head of National Australia Bank in London said he was proud to be associating with AFL Europe and supporting such a significant event.

“It is a terrific event fostering the continual cultural exchange between Australia and France. Villers-Bretonneux is a community that holds a special place in Australia’s heart and National Australia Bank is privileged to share a part in this meaningful occasion.”

Anyone interested in attending the Dawn Service and the ANZAC Cup at Villers-Bretonneux on Wednesday the 25th of April should contact admin@afleurope.org. Please note, places at the Dawn Service are limited so act now to avoid missing out.

Champions League 2018 Tournament Preview

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2018 PREVIEW

Riley Brettell – AFL Europe

The best 24 Australian Football teams in Europe are set to march on Amsterdam this week ahead of the AFL Europe’s 2018 Champions League tournament, which will see close to 400 players represent club sides from 14 different nations to vie for European supremacy.

The 9-a-side event will be held on Saturday, April 7th at the Sportpark de Eendracht, with 54 matches across the day to decide the champions across both men’s and women’s divisions and making for one of Australian Footballs premier international spectacles.

Games will be live streamed online via BarTV along with rolling coverage across all AFL Europe social media channels throughout the day, with AFL Europe General Manager Ryan Davey expecting the day to be a huge success.

“Champions League is one of the real marquee events for Australian Football throughout Europe and there has been a lot of work go in this year, not just from AFL Europe but from all the competing clubs and the players who have shown a real eagerness to get to Amsterdam in the best shape possible to make 2018 the best Champions League we have seen,” Davey said.

“It’s a very rewarding feeling to see so many people with completely varying backgrounds and stories, in both footy and life, coming together in the name of Australian Football… There’s probably not many people in Australia that would recognise how strong the game is in Europe and what it means to the people who play it.”

Of course, hosting 54 games of football on one day at just one venue comes with its logistical challenges, with AFL Europe contending with the task of juggling the same challenges that come with most single or multi-day tournaments in regards to breaks between matches, time off before finals and giving all clubs a chance on centre stage, as Davey explained.

“Similar to other AFL Europe tournaments, the fixture was created via a ranked draw based off results from the past three years of competition, with teams drawn into four groups across the men’s division and two in the women’s, and the fixture took shape from there, although creating a fixture that all 24 clubs are happy with is never easy”

“For the integrity of the tournament, it was important to get things like rest and recovery time, total playing time, start and finish times all as even as humanly possible throughout the day. Plus  we were also keen to provide as many teams as possible with the opportunity to play on the main stadium given the huge efforts they have made to get to Amsterdam.”

 

Stay tuned to afleurope.org for the full tournament fixture announcement Thursday, April 5th. 

 

The West London Wildcats return in 2018 to defend their crown as champions of Europe, with President Chad Sellenger, excited by the prospect of the side holding onto the title.

“Coming over to Amsterdam is a big highlight for our players each year, it’s a chance to enjoy a really great city and play against some really tough competition from around Europe,” Sellenger said.

“Being in London there is always a high turnover over players coming and going so we have lost a fair amount but also gained some really important players that will drive our team forward in 2018.”

“It was a tough group stage last year but we managed to get our way into the final coming up a resilient and disciplined Amsterdam Devils side, and we managed to come away with a hard-fought win… We are hoping – like everyone – to come away as Champions in 2018 once again.”

West London’s 2017 Champions League Side

As the Wildcats look to see off a competitive men’s field once again, the newly formed Hamburg Dockers women’s side will be flying the flag for Germany in the clubs inaugural competitive tournament.

Team Manager Lisa Wilson says that development of female football in Germany will be of greater priority during the tournament than wins and losses.

“A campaign has been created to launch women’s football in Germany with the Champions League competition being a focal point for growth with the Hamburg Dockers being granted a spot,” she said.

“Our preparations have been solely based around promotion of the sport and the building of the team as this will be the first ever German women’s Australian Football team to play in AFL Europe history… Our aim will be to promote the name of Germany Women’s Australian Football, inspire other German girls and girls in Germany to try the game and also to give game experience to the girls who have been training with the men but haven’t had the opportunity to play a game.”

Coverage of Champions League 2018 will kick-off at 9:30 am on BarTV, and you can stay across all AFL Europe social media channels for additional updates throughout the event.

 

Click for 2018 Team Previews

PART ONE – Wandsworth Demons (Women), Bordeaux Bombers, Zagreb Dockers, Berlin Crocodiles, Leeside Lions

PART TWO – Hamburg Dockers, Odense Lionesses, West London Wildcats, ALFA Lyons, Sesvete Double Blues

PART THREE – Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions, Greater Glasgow Giants, Styrian DownUnderDogs

PART FOUR – Oslo Crows, Manchester Mosquitoes, Winterthur Lions, Wandsworth Demons (Men)

STILL TO COME – West Clare Waves, Amsterdam Devils, North West Eagles, Bristol Dockers, Copenhagen Barracudas, Stockholm Dynamite

 

2017 Champions League Highlights

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Tyson Mihocek

ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Tyson Mihocek

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.

 

When Nathan Buckley sits down with the Collingwood match committee to select the Magpies side before their ANZAC Day blockbuster against Essendon, the name of 25-year-old first-year player Brody Mihocek will emblazon one of the forty-five magnets that the panel will have at their disposal.

Brody might have to bide his time a little longer before pulling on the black and white on one of footy’s biggest stages, but one member of the Mihocek family has already earned selection for perhaps an even bigger ANZAC Day honour, with older brother Tyson set to represent the Australian Spirit Side against France in the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup to be played in the famous town of Villers-Bretonneux.

Hailing from Melbourne and now living in London, Tyson will be one of 32 Australian’s who will don the green and gold to play in the annual match, a game that takes on added significance this year in marking the 100th Anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in WW1.

 

The Mihocek family has a rich footballing history after Tyson’s father Jack represented Essendon between 1976-78, and Tyson himself having played for Tasmania at under-18 level, but it will be the family’s military ties that will be front of mind when he crosses the white line in France.

The connection to the Armed Forces stems back to great-great uncles Hugh & William Moore, who at 21 and 25 years of age respectively, made the decision to join the AIF and fight for King and Country.

William Moore was one of the 5,533 Australian’s killed in action in the worst 24 hours in Australian military history during the battle of Fromelles on July 19th, 1916, prompting his younger brother to enlist one month later. Hugh joined the war and served on the Western Front before he too lost his life on April 11th, 1917, whilst fighting to defend a small town in the North of France called Villers-Bretonneux.

 

Tyson’s great-grandfather Ernie Kelly (left) alongside Hugh Moore (right)

 

Only two weeks after Hugh’s death, Villers-Bretonneux was captured by German forces as part of the spring offensive which left the railyards of Amiens to the West dangerously exposed, before a crucial Australian counter-attack on the night of April 24th drove the Germans out and cemented the ANZAC legacy in the small town forever.

Stepping onto those very same grounds for the sake of football will seem so trivial by comparison, but Tyson says he will have both of his great-great uncles in his thoughts in the lead-up to the game.

“I’ll be thinking about my own family and the part that Hugh and William Moore played in WWI in France. The life we have and privileges that Australian’s enjoy today are because of the sacrifices of people like my great-great uncles” he said.

“Growing up at school I was always eager to learn more about and understand what these young men and women did for our country, but probably more so in the last few years I have taken a keener interest in our own family military history and the involvement of my two great-great uncles in WWI.”

“The fact that I have a family member who fought and sacrificed his life at Villers-Bretonneux is something I really appreciate and look forward to honouring.”

 

Australian Spirit team representatives in Villers-Bretonneux in 2017

 

While the location might be a new one, football on ANZAC day has become a staple of Tyson’s yearly commemorations, either playing in local fixtures for the Mallee Eagles in Country Victoria or by watching his beloved Bombers take on Collingwood from his vantage point on centre wing at the MCG.

Though in one of Australia’s most famous theatres of war, neither his experiences at the Lalbert Reserve or the silence of 95,000 at the MCG can prepare him for how he will feel when the last post echoes over the ground in Villers-Bretonneux.

“I know from past experiences when listening to the last post, the sort of emotions and feelings that go through your head. The hairs stand up on your arms and you get a shiver throughout your body” he said.

“I have been fortunate enough to play on ANZAC day several times and quite often as a football club, we would go to the dawn service to pay our respects and play later in the afternoon. It is always an honour to play on ANZAC day and listening to the last post in silence with your teammates is always a special moment.”

 

The commemorative game between West London and Wandsworth

 

No stranger to World War One commemoration games, Tyson previously represented the West London Wildcats against Wandsworth in marking the 100-year anniversary of the first game of Australian Rules played overseas by the elite footballers serving their country in 1916, an honour he looks forward to building on in France.

“To be able to wear the navy-blue strop with the white map of Australia of the Third Australian Division was a wonderful experience. That replica guernsey is something I look forward to keeping forever.”

 

The team of the Australian fifth division in 1916

 

“Playing in Villers-Bretonneux this year on ANZAC day is something I would never have imagined doing a couple of years ago. It is quite surreal to think that I’ll be able to represent Australia at the very place where my great-great uncle and many other others fought and died to protect our country and just thinking about it makes me feel very lucky and proud to be able to have the opportunity to play in the ANZAC Cup. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

For all the honour of playing in the ANZAC Cup, there is the small matter of allegiances should brother Brody get selected to play for the Magpies at the ‘G against Tyson’s Dons.

“My mother will be in ‘V-B’ attending the service and watching me play, so we will both be following the match back home closely if my brother was selected to play… still supporting Essendon though of course!”

Riley Brettell – 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