2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Angi Crispe

34-year-old Angi Crispe is exactly the type of person you’d want in your team or club. 

Showing commitment through immersion in her local club, Angi has shown over the years how she can help a community of people perform at their best. 

Currently living in Ireland, Angi is a player, coach, committee member and overall supporter of the Cuala Gaelic Club. Helping her club to recently win the best sporting club in Ireland award, this level of dedication to a club is exactly what typifies being a part of the Australian Spirit team.  

Growing up in the small town of Riverton, South Australia, Angi was first in contact with Australian football when playing for the Riverton Hawks. This being her main Australian football background means this ANZAC Cup trip will be on another level. Compared to a junior local footy experience this is an amazing opportunity to proudly represent her home country on such an important weekend.  

Angi will join the Australian Spirit football team on the 27th of April for the 11th consecutive ANZAC Cup. 

Held in Villers-Bretonneux, France, Angi will be looking to inspire and make her family proud, representing Australia against the French National Australian football team. 

“I am very proud to grow up in a family who values their history and past and have a lot of relatives who have worked hard to share photos and stories of our generations gone by.” 

This ANZAC Cup event, being part of a big Australia Week in Villers-Bretonneux, is to honour diggers and their sacrifices made to reclaim land against the German Forces on April 24th, 1918. 

With many of her family closely attached or a part of this World War, strong ties to the area and event are present, giving Angi a whole lot to play for. She will be representing her family proudly along with 26 other, well deserving Australians. 

The old war stories be they of battle or loss, living in Australia during war times and family life back then are all so precious and something I will always try to preserve for future generations of my family. 

Being so close to her Great Grandfather, Kenneth Elliot Crispe, Angi would hear stories about how proud her ‘Pa Crispe’ was about fighting in World War Two and created many great early memories with him. 

“Pa Crispe sparked my love of our family history at a very young age.” 

Angi’s family history is rich with men who gave it all for their country, including Kenneth Elliot Crispe’s two Uncles in World War One. Walter, who was a Private in the 10th battalion, was captured and killed by the Germans, while Hubert was a driver for an Army Service Corps train. 

With so much war representation on one side of her family, the added amount on the Haskett and Mills sides of her family is astonishing. 

Edmund Haskett was a man who fought in World War One and Two, alongside Angi’s Great Grandmothers brother, Samuel and cousin George who both served in World War Two. 

With the Mills part of her family adding eight more brave soldiers, who fought in World War One and Two respectively, it shows the amount of deep history Angi is playing for and how proud her family will be of her going on this trip. 

This immensely long list of family representatives at war, show something that Angi and her family will hold dearly forever. Angi will be able to create even more memories in Villers-Bretonneux that will help inspire her beautiful eight-year-old daughter, to carry on the honoured traditions of storytelling throughout her life as well. 

“She is of an age now where she is beginning to learn about history in school and make connections that will last. I always try to teach her the importance of remembrance… I was of a similar age when my Pa began teaching us, his great grand kids, about our family history and I would love her to see how memories can be carried from generation to generation.” 

 

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

ANZAC Cup returns to Villers-Bretonneux

AFL Europe are pleased to announce that their partnership with National Australia Bank will extend into 2019, making it a two-year consecutive partnership to date.

National Australia Bank is returning as the major partner for the 2019 ANZAC Cup. Held in the small town of Villers-Bretonneux in northern France, the match will showcase the Australian Spirit and the French National sides in both the men and women’s competitions, as each side attempts to claim victory in the 11th instalment of this special event.

Action from the 2018 ANZAC Cup women’s match

The match will take place on Saturday the 27thof April, although there will be a constant Australian presence in the town from earlier in the week – starting with the ANZAC Day Dawn Service held at the Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial on Thursday the 25thof April. The build-up to the match will also include the players spending time with their host families, delivering AFL clinics to students, visiting memorials and marching through the centre of town prior to the match. This is guaranteed to be a special week for all of the players, umpires and officials as they honour the Diggers and the sacrifices made over 100 years ago. Players putting on the Australian Spirit jumper have been selected for this match by their connection to World War I, the Western Front and particularly, the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux – not their playing ability.

In 1918 the town of Villers-Bretonneux was captured by German forces, however, overnight Australian troops rallied together and reclaimed the town on the 25thof April 1918. This moment in history has never been forgotten by the people of Villers-Bretonneux and each year they open their homes to Australian players as both nationalities reflect on what transpired over 100 years ago.

Action from the 2018 ANZAC Cup men’s match

AFL Europe General Manager, Ryan Davey, was delighted to be extending the partnership: “We are thrilled to once again be partnering with National Australia Bank. This is an organisation that is extremely well connected with the AFL in Australia through their support of the NAB Auskick program, the NAB AFLW competition and the NAB Rising Stars Pathways. Each of these programs have played a massive part in assisting with the growth of the game in Australia, and through their partnership in AFL Europe – primarily as the Major Partner for our ANZAC Cup – they will also assist us with growing the game of Australian Football throughout Europe. We were so pleased that some of the team from the London office of National Australia Bank could join us in Villers-Bretonneux last year and we look forward to hosting them again in 2019.”

2018 Australian Spirit Captain’s present His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, with a special present ahead of his 70th Birthday following the dawn service in Villers-Bretonneux.

John McClusky, Head of National Australia Bank in London said he felt proud that their London Branch continues to support AFL Europe.

“As a proud supporter of the AFL in Australia, we’re pleased to have extended this relationship to the UK and Europe. AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux is a terrific event in a community that holds a special place in Australia’s heart.”

Anyone interested in attending the 2019 ANZAC Cup at Villers-Bretonneux on Saturday the 27th of April should contact admin@afleurope.org. 

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 4 Review

Irish Watch: AFL Round 4 Review  

It was a big weekend of action in the AFL, with a number of close encounters and standout performances highlighting a nail-biting round four.   

This weekend would see the same four Irish players from round three retain their spots, with Conor Nash, Conor McKenna, Mark O’Connor and Pearce Hanley being rewarded for solid starts to their seasons.  

We would also see more Irish athletes compete in state leagues around the country, as AFL club’s look to develop these Gaelic footballers into solid AFL players.  

With his side bouncing back after a lacklustre start to the year, McKenna was superb off halfback on Saturday afternoon as the Bombers destroyed the in-form Lions.  

Using his trademark run and dash from defence, McKenna was pivotal in setting up Essendon’s attack all afternoon as he constantly took on the Lions forwards and made bold decisions with his ball use.  

Having 20 disposals for the third straight week, McKenna would also end up with three marks and two inside 50’s while using the ball at an incredibly efficient 85%.  

A critical clog in Essendon’s rapid turn around in the last two weeks, McKenna is continuing to develop his game in the Bomber’s back six as he looks to become one of the league’s most damaging defenders.  

Hawthorn’s Conor Nash had some important moments in the Hawks narrow loss to St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.  

Playing as a pressure forward, Nash would use his size and speed on a number of occasions to get into dangerous positions and damage the Saints defenders.  

Despite leaving the field for a significant period of time in the second quarter due to a hamstring injury, Nash would still manage nine disposals, seven contested possessions and a goal in what was a brave performance.  

Special comments commentator Luke Hodge would sing Nash’s praises on a number of occasions throughout the afternoon, as he made a number of winning plays and used his natural athletic strengths to great effect.  

This would be on display through his goal, as he managed to get out the back of the St Kilda defence and take an easy mark in the goal square to set the Hawks alight in the first term.  

Pearce Hanley’s Gold Coast Suns continued their remarkable start to the season with another close win over Carlton at Metricon Stadium. 

One of the few experienced heads in the Suns team, Hanley was again crucial in the dying stages of the match as he constantly made the right decisions and guided his young teammates to a famous win.  

Although it wasn’t his most prolific performance from a statistics point of view, 14 disposals, three marks and three tackles, he certainly made all his touches count going at 79% whilst also providing that trademark dash off the half-back line.  

With the Sun’s young players continuing to develop, Hanley’s presence will be critical to the overall success of this team as he leads their extremely young back six.  

Mark O’Connor would experience his first loss of the 2019 season as the Cats went down in a thriller to the Giants at GMHBA Stadium.  

Playing as a small defender, O’Connor was as solid as ever in a relatively successful Cat’s back six as they constantly repelled the pressure being placed on them by the success of the GWS midfield.  

Despite only having 13 touches, O’Connor used the ball brilliantly at an impressive 92% efficiency as he was excellent in kick-starting the Cats offensively from the defensive 50.  

His work as a defender was also excellent as he rarely lost a one on one contest and kept the dangerous Giants small forwards under control.  

Although going down on Saturday, the Cats look set for a deep finals run in 2019 with Mark O’Connor a key pillar to their league-best defensive structures.  

In the state leagues, Collingwood youngster Mark Keane was the standout for this round as a solid performance all day would see him earn a spot in the Magpies best players.  

Conor Glass was also very impressive for Hawthorn’s VFL affiliate Box Hill on Sunday at Marvel Stadium, as he claimed 23 disposals in three quarters before a leg injury prematurely ended his afternoon.  

With the season now a month old, the Irish influence continues to grow as a number of players push for AFL selection in the coming weeks. 

By Zac Standish.

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – John Beilby

John Beilby grew up listening to and reading stories of the ANZAC’s and their feats during both World Wars.

The knowledge and interest developed over this time now sees John create his own story representing the country as he will pull on an Australian guernsey for this year’s ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux.

With a long family history in the Australian military from two Great-Great Uncles who served in the First World War and his Granddad who trained as a fighter in the RAAF, to his Dad who served in the RAAF as an electrical fitter, this will be an unforgettable experience for John.

“I’ve never excelled in a subject matter or sport which would allow me to represent my country. However, to be given the opportunity to represent Australia, on ANZAC Day, commemorating the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux would be amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.

He’ll not only represent Australia, but also his family. His two Great-Great Uncles who fought in the First World War were Herbert and Arthur Bruce. Neither was the tall young bronzed Aussies often depicted, with Herbert being 5’6” and Arthur 5’3” tall. Herbert enlisted aged 29 in February 1915 and Arthur enlisted aged 32 in December 1915, on his second attempt.

Herbert joined the 17thBattalion and was wounded at Gallipoli just before the evacuation. He recovered in time to continue further fighting on the Western Front but was injured two more times in 1916 then at the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917. Herbert survived his wounds and the war, returning to Australia in April 1919. He again enlisted in the Special Transport Service on 8 August 1919. The role of the Special Transport Service was to escort prisoners of war and internees. This he did, travelling to London and returning to Australia in December 1919 before his final discharge in March 1920.

Unfortunately, Arthur never returned to Australia as a result of dying from gas wounds. He had joined the 53rdBattalion after the infamous Battle of Fromelles before serving at Villers-Bretonneux on the 18thof April 1918 when the German’s dropped 20,000 gas shells. The gas attack was a prelude to the German’s planned offensive against Villers Bretonneux. Despite being evacuated and the best efforts by the 3rdAustralian General Hospital in Rouen, he passed away on the 24thof April 1918 and is now buried in the St Sever Cemetery in Rouen.

During April, a week before the game, John will be joined by his dad and twin brother as they will get to spend some time together driving around the region to see where some important battles took place such as Hamel, Amiens, Fromelles and Pozieres, and to pay tribute to his Great-Great Uncles.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the Sir John Monash Memorial and the town of VB. Having read Peter Fitzsimmons’ book “Victory at Villers Bretonneux”, it will be great to see the lay of the land and understand how the battle unfolded,” John said.

John’s interest in learning more about the history of the Australian military on the Western Front will certainly add to his experience when pulling on the Australian colours.

Combine that with his passion for football, and this is going to be quite a special experience for the Port Adelaide fan.

Since he was in Year 10, John has played football nearly every season, first in South Australia with Adelaide University Football Club then with the Albert Park Falcons when he moved to Melbourne.

Having moved to England last year in June, John would have loved to have played but felt it was too late to join with the season finishing in August.

He has recently been training with the Wimbledon Hawks and is looking forward to playing with Australians from the various AFL London and European clubs.

“Seriously excited. I’ve signed up to the gym as I need to get fitter! I don’t know what I am more excited about, seeing the place of the Western Front and its memorials or playing for Australia. Probably both on par,” he said.

With John’s interest in Australian military history that has stemmed through generations of family, on top of his passion to play the sport for his country, John is rightfully excited to be involved and witness the events connected with the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux.

To also play, and travel around the region with his dad and brother, will be a truly special experience for John who is understandably looking forward to this special event.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

AFL Europe & Fine Wine Partners partner up and launch AFL Europe Wine Club

AFL Europe are pleased to announce a new partnership for 2019 with Fine Wine Partners. This partnership sees two key Australian icons join forces to support each other with an outlook to increase the footprint of Australian Wine and Australian Football throughout Europe – whilst also strengthening the connection between the two.

The Fine Wine Partners portfolio covers a range of world-renowned wines from regions across Australia, which produce a variety of rare and collectable styles of wine. This partnership will see the creation of the AFL Europe Wine Club, which will allow AFL Europe members to purchase some of the highest quality Australian wines directly from Fine Wine Partners.

As part of this partnership, Fine Wine Partners will be heavily involved in supporting local football within European communities and will help with the continued growth of Australian Football. Fine Wine Partners will provide leagues and clubs round Europe with the opportunity to purchase wine for their match days and events and will also be hosting wine tasting events throughout the year. In addition, Fine Wine Partners will provide awards to the Players of the Tournament for Champions League, ANZAC Cup, Euro Cup and European Championship.

Fine Wine Partners presented the men’s and women’s Player of the Tournament at the recent 2019 Champions League in Amsterdam.

 

Through the AFL Europe Wine Club, Fine Wine Partners will showcase wines from Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria throughout the year, all of which will be available to purchase.

Head of Fine Wine Partners, Toby Spiers, says they are delighted to be partnering with AFL Europe to bring a part of the Australian culture to a wider audience. “Over the coming months we look forward to introducing our wines and winemakers and to sharing a monthly insight into Australia’s iconic wines. Like AFL Europe, our roots are Australian and our portfolio of wine styles from regional vineyards and wineries shares an affinity with AFL’s regional structure and community links. A very exciting aspect of this partnership will be the opportunity to invest in AFL Europe’s grassroots footy and present our full portfolio pitch side. We very much look forward to seeing you throughout the 2019 season.”

Fine Wine Partners hosting a Petaluma wine tasting at the 2018 AFL Europe Grand Final Lunch in London.

 

AFL Europe’s General Manager, Ryan Davey, shares a similar attitude towards this exciting partnership. “Having Fine Wine Partners on board as a partner for 2019 is fantastic news for Australian Football on the continent. Not only will it provide an opportunity for our members and clubs to purchase fantastic wine at a great rate, it will also ensure we have beautiful wine for the corporate events that we plan to run throughout the year. Most importantly, we are thrilled that Fine Wine Partners are eager to get involved and support the leagues, clubs and events around Europe, to ensure that we continue to grow this great game across the continent.”

Throughout the year, Fine Wine Partners will be providing exclusive offers to customers of the AFL Europe Wine Club at discounted rates. Each month a new set of offers will be available through this club.

To ensure you don’t miss out on AFL Europe’s Wine Club offers, please contact admin@afleurope.org.

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Emily McKie

What was once a ‘pipe-dream’ for Emily McKie is now becoming a reality as she is set to represent Australia in the ANZAC Cup against France at Villers Bretonneux this year.

Emily has been involved in the game for many years at different levels, from playing to coaching, and working in an administrative capacity. However, due to age restrictions with female football and injuries, Emily hasn’t been able to play for a number of years.

“It is really hard to compare all of my footballing experiences as each of them has been in different elements of the game. After being involved in female football for years in both an administration and coaching capacity, just the idea of being able to pull on the boots and represent Australia in an ANZAC match on the other side of the world is so surreal,” Emily said.

Making this even more of an incredible event for Emily is her family history and connection to the ANZAC’s.

Her Great-Great Uncle, Albert Denmead, was 27 when he was sent to fight in Egypt as part of World War One. After that, he was moved to Gallipoli but was wounded and had to be taken back to Egypt, which saved his life at that point due to what happened at Gallipoli.

In Emily’s own words, what happened next was pretty grim.

Once he had recovered, he was promoted to Lance Corporal due to a lack of numbers. He was then killed in action in Marseille in France.

Despite Marseille and Villers Bretonneux being on the opposite sides of France to each other, Emily says she is definitely going to try to find the time to find Albert Denmead’s gravestone.

Emily had another Great-Great Uncle, Private Reginald James Denmead, who fought in WW1 as part of the 29thInfantry Battalion.

The experience of being in France on ANZAC Day is also going to be a significant event for Emily. “I think the whole experience of being in France during ANZAC Day and looking at the social constructs of what is happening around people at the time will be very fascinating,” she said.

“I am definitely feeling more privileged to be in the position I am, knowing and understanding the relevance of my history and I’m curious to see how I will feel when it comes around, Emily said.

This experience is likely to provide Emily with a memorable start to her life in Europe, as she is currently completing a university exchange in Germany at Leipzig University. During her time in Germany, she is developing a football club in Leipzig to be part of the AFLG competition.

On top of that, she has taken on the role of Head Coach at the German National Women’s team for the Euro Cup being played during June in Sweden, and the European Championships during October in London.

“To think that our game of AFL, which is based primarily in Victoria, can give us many opportunities in different areas of the world is crazy,” Emily said.

Having grown up in a small town in Victoria, to now living in Germany and playing in an ANZAC Cup for Australia, Emily is certainly continuing to make the most of the opportunities to be involved with Australian Rules.

It’s those kinds of opportunities that Emily is looking forward to the most, to learn about her family’s history and the sacrifices made by her Great-Great Uncles. The chance to play football again, a chance to represent her country and to remind herself how lucky she is to be Australian.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Champions League 2019 Tournament Review

The very best of AFL throughout Europe comes together once a year for the Champions League. This was the 5th annual outing of the event, held once again in Amsterdam, to contest for the AFL Europe Champions League Trophy.

15 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams battled it out to be crowned the best European club of this nine-a-side competition for 2019. With 29 different nationalities being represented across the globe the growth of this competition continues to exceed expectations, as word of mouth and love for the game continue to spread.

23 of Europe’s best teams competed at Amsterdam’s Sportpark de Eendracht and throughout the day added to be a total of 56 matches across the five pitches, making it a huge day of Aussie Rules. Working through their pool matches before progressing to finals and then some to the Grand Finals, teams had to work hard, aiming to be the men’s or women’s champions for 2019. This again is seen as such a stellar event and as one of the premier competitions for international Australian football.

Women’s Competition

Group stages

With two new women’s teams of the Zagreb Panthers and the Amsterdam Devils making their debut in the competition, it leaves the women’s side of the event to have some unknown and excitement to brew, while eager to see the improvements and changes of the more experienced sides.  Plenty of onlookers and teams were eager to see the future of the new teams and how the more experienced campaigners would react with plenty of great match-ups on the schedule.

Group A consisted of the Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions, Amsterdam Devils and the 2018 champions, seemingly the team to look out for in the women’s competition,  the West Clare Waves. The Scorpions and Waves left no time in asserting dominance into the competition with some convincing wins to start off the event.  The host side of Amsterdam gave it their all all day bringing a great amount of passion to the event but were outdone by a lot of class and experience from it’s pool competitors. All other three teams recorded some large wins throughout the day, where the Scorpions finished second in the group behind a convincing West Clare Waves who only allowed one point against them throughout their three pool matches.

Group B was considered one of the closest groups of the competition, including many tight games spread between the Wandsworth Demons, Hamburg Dockers, Paris Cockerelles and the Zagreb Panthers. With all three of Paris’ matches being decided by under eight points, for them to only come out with one win seems to not justify the competitive run they had. The Panthers in their inaugural turn in this event, showed a lot of heart with an extremely close game against Paris and proved that they can hit the scoreboard on offence. They unfortunately finished with zero wins, but showed plenty of positive signs for the future. Hamburg and Wandsworth seemed very forceful on the offensive end, having some big wins through the pool stages.  Wandsworth showed the competition they are not to be messed with, with an important win over Hamburg, later leading the group stage in pool B.

Finals

The finals promised for some close encounters, with the top four teams focused on making the big dance. The Hamburg Dockers who had such an amazing tournament were out shone by the speed and class shown by the West Clare Waves who won convincingly by 46, heading to a second consecutive Grand Final appearance. Semi Final 2 was a much closer encounter where the game between Nottingham and Wandsworth was a grind for the win. The grit and skill of Wandsworth ran it out towards the end defeating the Scorpions by 13 points, progressing to the Grand Final.

Like many Grand Finals of the Australian game it started with both Wandsworth and West Clare having a tough body on body battle with plenty of contested footy. This didn’t last long as West Clare kicked into gear and showed the amount of raw fitness they had, even after injuries and the amount of games they had played already. The Demon’s crowd really got behind the skill and everything their women’s team were doing which was great to see, however the class that the Waves showed the entire day, again was brought out in this match. Never letting down they put on an extremely dominating performance with sheer pace and skill winning by 39 points and taking out their second consecutive AFL Europe Champions League win.

West Clare Waves (39) defeated Wandsworth Demons (0)

Men’s Competition

Group Stages

Only one new side of the Prague Dragon’s made their debut in the men’s competition adding an aspect of the unexpected to the event as the rest of these men’s teams, pull out very experienced teams in this nine a side competition and look to flourish on their efforts from previous years.

With an uneven amount of teams, Group A became one of the most formidable, with the Wandsworth Demons, Manchester Mosquitoes and Bristol Dockers, all big clubs in their respective areas of England. The Demons showed their forward pressure and dominance in their first game against Bristol posting a whopping 94 points in the 26 minute match. Despite the power of their group, Bristol held their heads high, and finished the group stage third of the three teams. With both Wandsworth and Manchester posting enormous wins already in the group stage, this pairing of the two teams on Pitch One had a big audience in the crowd and great anticipation. The crowd were not disappointed with a fiery display between the two sides, showing how far they would go to win this competition. Leaving nothing out there on the field both teams gave it their all, however the Demons turned the jets on in the second half and with great disposal efficiency, were able to win this one by 27 points and lead to the top of Group A.

Group B had an abundance of exciting match-ups with the new and experienced coming together in this one. Four time Champions League winners and the current trophy holders, the West London Wildcats seemed to be the team to beat in this group with the Copenhagen Giants, Zagreb Dockers and Prague Dragons hungry to take that crown. With countless close games in this group, many decided by under 10 points, Zagreb came so close to beating the four time champions in the first game losing to the Wildcats by four points. Seeing these as part of the powerhouses of this pool, the Prague Dragons showed just how close this group B really was, creating a draw between the Dockers and Dragons. Showing exciting signs for a new team to the event and the grit and determination of both teams to hang on. The Copenhagen Giants showed their ability to get scores on the board, showing their determination, narrowly winning two matches. However they came across a fired up Wildcats team, where West London finished the group stage unbeaten and lead this Pool B at the very top, seemingly having a rocky start to their campaign unlike other years, but still within a close reach of the trophy yet again.

Group C made for some thrilling affairs between the sides. This pool included the Belfast Redbacks, Winterthur Lions, Hamburg Dockers and the Edinburgh Bloods. The Bloods and Lions in the group were outshone at times by the Redbacks and Dockers, however showed many passages of play that could excite the crowds. Winterthur had a tough competition and with their best game being against the Bloods in a competitive affair. They still finished with their heads held high, finishing with no wins for the day. The Bloods in this game found a bit of confidence and really gelled against the Lions making this their only win but with a real positive outlook on the rest of the event. These group stage games proved how dominant the Redbacks and Dockers can be on such smaller AFL pitches, who both had some big percentage boosting games with pace and accuracy towards goal. Coming up against each other promised for a close encounter, but Belfast won this highly skilled battle by 16 points as they narrowly edged their way to the top of Group C to finish the group stages.

Group D provided the competition with some of the most exhilarating teams on display, involving the host team of the Amsterdam Devils, drawing in plenty of big crowds and support to build the atmosphere. The group consisted of the Amsterdam Devils, Paris Cockerels, Oslo Crows and the Norrtalje Dockers. Paris showed real fight to get over the line with two wins, especially winning a one point thriller against the Norrtalje Dockers. The Cockerels fought till the end just hanging on against the Dockers, helping Paris to finishing second in the group stage. Norrtalje, being very unlucky not to get over the line in this match-up were able to have a solid win against Oslo helping them to get at least the one win on the board. Oslo had a tough day with some big losses involved, however showed real unity and passion as a team throughout the day, even without recording a win. The home side of the Amsterdam Devils showed some real class on many of their home grounds. With multiple wins being over 40 points and the memory of being a part of many Grand Final losses in past years, they wanted to assert themselves as a real chance to take out this years event finishing with three convincing wins and topping their group after the first stages.

Finals

The Division 1 semi finals were too hard for anyone at the event to pick and the chance of a new Champions League men’s winner was a real possibility. The match-up of West London and Belfast was seen as intriguing by talk around the onlookers, as people were eager to see if the Wildcats would reign again or for the Redbacks to change the guard. Such an even battle across the entire ground, created for a tough match and goals having to come from pure burst of power. The Redbacks knowing they were up against one of Europe’s best ever AFL teams, had to bring their A-game and certainly did, using their sheer skill around the ground and being able to hang on by 4 points to head to the much wanted Grand Final, knocking out the four time champs.

Two of Europe’s powerhouse clubs of Amsterdam and Wandsworth were apart of semi final one. Neck and neck this entire match and such a big crowd with many Demons fans cheering on and such a big turnout for the hometown team, the suspense built for a tight finish. Down five with a minute or so left it looked all over for the home side. However with a turnover and surge forward for the Devils they were able to get a mark down forward. Lining up as the siren went a nervous chatter surrounded the ground – this kick could send them into the Grand Final. From a decent way out from goal, the ball was roosted and sent through the big sticks, where a wave of Amsterdam fans rush the field as they have won the match with a goal after the siren and headed to the big dance. Arguably the best match of the tournament and best finish to a game in the events history.

The Grand Final now open to a new winner for the first time in this competitions existence created a real buzz in the air and also unknown as these matched seemed like it was going to make for a perfect battle. Both teams with a high marking forward line and eagerness when heading forward made for an exciting display of footy. A close encounter throughout, Amsterdam seemed to will their way to the finish line to get the victory by 10 points. A fitting way to finish the last year the event will be in Amsterdam and great for the home team and crowd.

Amsterdam Devils (30) defeated Belfast Redbacks (20)

 

With the amazing support and effort from so many people we were able to make a memorable day for all involved. A massive thank you and mention to the umpiring squad for 2019 – 14 umpires were able to cover 56 matches which is a fantastic effort and thanks to them for their outstanding contribution to this Australian game in Europe.

 

 

2019 Golden Whistle winner James Olle receives trophy from 2018’s Winner Katrina Stopinski

 

For the fifth consecutive year our thanks must be said to AFL Netherlands for their amazing management of this event in conjunction with the team at Spark United and Sportpark de Eendracht for hosting us.

Also thank you to Drovers Dog for providing the food and beverage for the day, helping everyone quench their thirst and hunger with a great setup throughout the entire day.

We applaud all the volunteers and pitch managers for keeping the day running on time and for their support of the game in Europe.

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

To the entirety of the teams, players and coaches, congratulations on an amazing tournament played in great spirit both on and off the field.

You all represented your leagues and nations with pride.

Good luck and well wishes for a great 2019 season ahead!

 

 

 

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Sean Barker

Imagine being the person responsible for ordering the first shot fired by an Australian in World War One? Well Sean Barker’s Great-Grandfather, Richard Stanley Veale, did just that.

Britain had just declared war when a German ship, the Pfalz, was attempting to leave the heads at Port Philip Bay on the 5thof August 1914 and was ordered to stop. Veale was a midshipman on a boat tasked with intercepting the Pfalz and after it failed to follow instructions to come to a halt, Veale lifted the H signal flag which indicated a hostile vessel. Following that, the gunners at Fort Nepean fired upon the German ship.

Veale then served in the South Pacific islands, China and East Indies stations, mainly aboard the HMAS Encounter, for the remainder of the war before continuing in the naval reserves after its conclusion in 1918.

As fate can be a strange thing, Veale also gave the order to Fort Nepean to fire Australia’s first shot in World War Two, on September 4th, 1939. He was in charge of the Bass Strait approaches towards Port Philip Bay.

When an Australian freighter, the SS Woniora, had failed to acknowledge the recognition signal, Lieutenant Commander Veale ordered for a shot to be fired across its bow from the same gunner at Fort Nepean.

Fast forward to 2019 and Sean Barker will be making his own mark on Australian history, playing for the Australia squad against France as part of the 2019 ANZAC Cup played at Villers-Bretonneux.

Sean is still relatively new to the game, having been invited to a few training sessions at the Paris Cockatoos in 2016 through a friend.

“I’m pretty hopeless at the skills but really appreciated the comradeship and the laid-back atmosphere of the Paris Cockatoos. I played a few other sports at various clubs in Paris, but the Paris footy club is something special,” he said.

Sean has been working in France since 2013 and attended the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux 2014 but wasn’t aware that there was an ANZAC Cup event. Now he plays with and against members of the French squad week in, week out.

“I attended the dawn service in 2014. It was an experience I will never forget. I was amazed at the number of people who came out in the freezing temperatures to this small village, not just Australians, but the French community who still pay their respect,” Sean said.

Sean has also visited many of the sites on the Western Front since moving to France and as a result, has learnt a lot more about the experiences many of the ANZAC’s went through.

When Sean takes to the field this year, his Uncle, grandson of Richard Veale, will be attending the match as well. In this case, it might feel like a full-circle moment for Sean, with his Great-Grandfather a member of the ANZAC’s during both World Wars and now Sean will be representing him in a football match that illustrates many of the ANZAC values.

From growing up with along the sun-drenched beaches of the Gold Coast to now living in France with his fiancée Laurianne and about to play for Australia at the ANZAC Cup, this is an experience Sean never thought would happen but is certainly excited about.

“I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind to be playing Aussie Rules in France. I grew up on the magnificent Gold Coast beaches surfing and playing rugby and had never kicked the red Sherrin. It’s pretty surreal to be playing this match, can’t wait!” He said.

It will be another piece of history that he will be able to hold on to and share with his family, just like that of his Great-Grandfather Richard Stanley Veale.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 3 Review

This weekend would see the season start for all of our fit Irish players, with round one of the NEAFL and VFL kicking off for the reserves sides.

Round three of the AFL would see four Irish players represent their respective sides in blockbuster clashes around the country.

After being dubbed “the worst list since Fitzroy”, Pearce Hanley’s Gold Coast Suns again silenced their doubters with a spirited five-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Playing across the half back line, Hanley’s experience was critical all day for the Suns as they held off the fast finishing Bulldogs to claim one of the best wins in the club’s history.

In his best performance for the year thus far, Hanley would pick up an impressive 22 disposals and four marks as he continues to regain the dash and class that made him so damaging at the Brisbane Lions.

His on-field leadership was also something to admire, as he led from the front and acted as a coach like figure on the field for the young Sun’s defense around him.

With the game going down to the wire, Hanley would step up on countless occasions by taking big marks, making the right decisions and generally changing the tempo of the game to help his team hang on.

Thursday night would see young Mark O’Connor get another chance to impress on the big stage as his Geelong Cat’s travelled to Adelaide to take on the Crow’s in a blockbuster clash.

In what was a tight game throughout, Geelong proved themselves a genuine contender as they repelled every Adelaide advance and came away with a majorly impressive 24-point win.

Playing in a defence that restricted a once dominant Crows forward line to just 75 points, O’Connor was superb in the back pocket as he battled away brilliantly with seasoned star Eddie Betts.

O’Connor would prove more than a handful for Betts who found himself unable to hit the scoreboard and provide that trademark spark within Adelaide’s forward 50.

Along with his excellent work defensively, O’Connor would also assist in setting up the Cat’s attack off half back claiming 11 disposals of his own.

Faced with a do or die proposition against the Demon’s on Friday night, Conor McKenna’s Bombers would come up trumps on the MCG as they put in a spirited performance to run away 18-point victors.

Criticised for their slow ball movement and unwillingness to take risks, a rejuvenated Bombers would take the field on Friday night with Irishman McKenna leading the charge off half back.

Backing up his excellent game last week, McKenna would collect 20 possessions at 75% efficiency whilst also laying three tackles as he played his defensive role to perfection.

Seen throughout the night charging out of Essendon’s defence and setting up attacking movements for his team, there was lots to like from the 23-year old’s game which really resembled that of Pearce Hanley in his absolute prime.

The final Irishman to take the field this weekend would be young pressure forward Conor Nash, who’s Hawks bounced back from their fourth quarter meltdown last week to secure a much needed four points against North Melbourne.

Known for his pace and relentless approach to chasing and applying pressure, Nash was excellent in disturbing the Kangaroo’s defence and forcing seasoned campaigners such as Jasper Pittard, Jamie MacMillan and Shaun Atley into mistakes.

Along with his excellent pressure, Nash would contribute offensively with 11 disposals and a goal as he looks to expand his game and turn into a very dangerous small forward.

Moving to the VFL and it was an exciting day for North Melbourne’s Red Og Murphy, who after crossing over from Gaelic football last off season made his debut for the Kangaroo’s reserves.

Still very much adapting to the nuances of our game, it would very much be a learning experience for Murphy as he only managed the five disposals as North Melbourne went down by 39 points to a more experienced Werribee outfit. However, this was an important stepping stone for Murphy and no doubt a day he will never forget.

With all competitions now officially underway, expect more and more exciting updates from our Irish player as they each look to further enhance their skills and become key contributors for their respective clubs moving forward.

 

By Zac Standish 

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Claudia Bailey

Since the age of five, Claudia Bailey has played Australian Rules Football whenever she could get her hands on a footy.

After playing Auskick until she was 12 when rules came in that meant she wasn’t allowed to play, Claudia continued playing at school and got selected in a Riverina team. Following that, she joined Thurgoona Football Club but could only train with the under 21’s as she was too old to play.

Her desire to pursue the game eventually paid off when she got the opportunity to play for a Greater Western Sydney Giants development squad and played in a tournament for AFL Southern NSW open women’s squad.

In January 2018, she joined the West London Wildcats where she won the Premiership Division coaches award and was also selected to play for the London All-Stars team against Great Britain.

During the following off-season, she played with the Sussex Swans in the European Championship League which allowed her to travel outside the UK, an experience Claudia says was a big honour.

“I have had some pretty amazing experiences in my football career, and I am so grateful for every one of them,” Claudia said.

Being involved in the game for so long has presented Claudia with numerous opportunities, especially with women’s football growing at such a high rate. However, for Claudia, having the opportunity to play for Australia in the ANZAC Cup will rank as one of her highest achievements.

“Having all these memories, playing in the ANZAC Cup would rank as one of my highest achievements as a footballer, and one of the greatest honours for my family given the history of my great grandfathers and their experiences in the war,” she said.

Her family has a strong connection and history with both wartime and the ANZAC’s. Two of her great grandfathers, Franc Prosen and Jozef Mikuletic, fought in World War Two in the Yugoslav army.

Her other great grandfather, William Alfred Henry Ellis, fought in World War One in Egypt as part of the 4thLight Horse Regiment. He began his duty there in March 1917 but was admitted to hospital in the same year with rheumatism and fibrositis. William arrived back in Melbourne in December 1917 and was discharged from service in April 1918.

While William was part of the ANZAC’s on WW1, Claudia’s great grandfathers who fought in WW2 had a very different role.

Both Franc and Jozef fought for the Yugoslav Army, which was also known as “The Yugoslav Partisans” or the National Liberation Army. Franc fought from 1941 to 1945 and survived, but Jozef was not so fortunate.

In 1941, Jozef, who was one of the Resistance Fighters, went missing and his body was never recovered. He was tragically killed in Croatia and is buried in a mass grave.

One of the ways Claudia wants to remember her great grandfathers by is being involved with the ANZAC commemorations, and she says this will be one memory that will stay with her for the rest of her life.

“It is on my bucket list to experience an ANZAC Day service in Turkey but having the opportunity to be involved at a place that holds such significance such as Villers Bretonneux in France is an honour,” Claudia said.

From playing football growing up in NSW, playing in London and now to playing for Australia in the ANZAC Cup, Claudia has an impressive list of footballing experience. This occasion though is more than that, it’s a chance to represent her family and she says it’s an opportunity that she is humbled to be part of.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe