*Cover photo courtesy of Mark McPartland
Just over 100 years on from the 1916 Pioneers Exhibition game at the Queens Club in West Kensington, last year’s two AFL London grand finalists squared off in round 1 to acknowledge this special moment in Australian history.
The Grand Final rematch doubled as a special one-off commemoration game of the Pioneers Exhibition match, with the West London Wildcats wearing the replica kit of the Third Division and the Wandsworth Demons doning the Combined Training Units uniform.
The teams came together for a minute’s silence, the last post and the national anthem prior to the game, building to the significance of the match.
The ruck battle was always going to be a great showdown with GB big men, Alex Watson of the Demons and Matt Warwick of the Wildcats going head-to-head to try and best serve their midfielders.
The Demons gained the ascendancy early with their relentless pressure around the footy resulting in some early goals. The Wildcats strong marking forwards were started to find the footy through hit up leads and they kept the game within a kick at the first change.
It was much of the same in second term with Demons skipper, Geoff Rouse and Wests, Zac Bozanich trading goals to keep the scores tight going into the main break after a fiery first half.
The Demons came out the better of the two sides in the third term piling on the goals to lead by 5 majors going into the final change.
As good sides do, the Wildcats responded and kicked the first 3 goals of the final quarter closing the gap to 9-points. The Demons clicked into another gear and blow the game right open from this point on, controlling the momentum and hitting the scoreboard in the process, registering the final 5 goals of the game to run our 40-point victors.
Both the West London Wildcats and the Wandsworth Demons need to be thanked for working so hard getting this special match up and running and for being so accommodating by welcoming Lizzie Kirkham into their clubs. It was certainly a very special occasion to be a part of with the 48 players and 2 umpires involved representing themselves and their clubs with the utmost respect.
*Photos courtesy of Danny Radis