2019 ANZAC Cup Preview

For many Australians, ANZAC Day and the build-up is about honouring the brave diggers and doing this through a passion for Australian football.

The French national team will join the Australians in the small town of Villers-Bretonneux to celebrate ‘Australia Week’ and for the 11thconsecutive year, will be host to the ANZAC Cup matches at Stadium Timmerman.

After a close match last year in the men’s, with Australia winning by 17 points, this year is expected to be another tightly contested game as the French look to win their first match since 2013.

In the women’s, France will be ready to take on Australia and hope to turn their fortunes around from last year when the visitors won by 53 points thanks to a strong defensive performance. This is the fourth year of the women’s match, and this could well be the closest game yet.

With ANZAC Day falling on a Thursday this year, the Australian squad has been in Villers-Bretonneux since Wednesday to spend time visiting the memorials around the area, and train at the ground in preparation for the matches on Saturday 27thof April.

An Australia Spirit side will be up against the French National team in a men’s and women’s clash for the 2019 ANZAC Cup, in honour of the people who fought at war and a part of the celebrations, where Australian diggers retook the Villers-Bretonneux land from the Germans on the 24th April 1918.

The game so beloved to Australian’s is now rapidly growing across Europe, with 24 countries across the continent now playing the sport.

“The annual ANZAC game has evolved over the years and so has the French team. In recent years, we have seen a rapid improvement in the game style and therefore results from a French perspective,” said French coach Andrew Unsworth.

Much like the Essendon against Collingwood Anzac Day tradition in the AFL, this ANZAC Cup match takes that feel and has protocols in order to honour the diggers.

With the last post being played and both the Australian and French National Anthems, it provides great build up much like the match at the iconic MCG and is a great tradition of the armed forces and the Australian football community.

Over 70 applicants went for a spot in the Australian Spirit sides, however, teams were narrowed down to family and personal connections to the armed forces and more importantly, the connection to the battle that occurred in Villers-Bretonneux, rather than football experience.

Captain of the Australian Spirit men’s team, Ben Carter, has a great connection to the land that the team will be playing on, as his Uncle is buried in Villers-Bretonneux.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be named Captain of the ANZAC Cup Team. It is an incredible opportunity to reflect and remember the sacrifices many ANZACs made for our freedom, and for me personally to honour my Great Uncle who died in the Villers-Bretonneux battle 101 years ago, just 2 kilometres away from our playing field.”

The other Captain for the Australian Spirit women’s squad, Nicole Young,  is also looking forward to the occasion and was thrilled to be selected as a captain alongside Ben.

“It is an absolute honour and while I am not going to lie, I am a little nervous – I am also excited to be able to lead a team of inspiring Australian women. Not just as we run out onto the field, but throughout the week of commemorations as we represent our country and our ancestors.”

 

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

By Liam McAllion and Angus Boyle – AFL Europe.

ANZAC Cup – French National Team Preview

The annual ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux sees the Australian Spirit take on France in a unique Australian Football match to commemorate those who have fought for the two nations in World War One.

It’s a big occasion for all involved, and the hosts certainly gain just as much from the experience as their opponents, with coach Andrew Unsworth saying, “as an overall experience, it is undoubtedly the most important”.

While many players from the Australian squad travel from all over the world, the French team is made up of players from around the country’s different leagues. For many of them, it’s one of, if not their most important match of the year and Captain of the men’s team, Sylvain Maylie, agrees with that sentiment.

“We don’t have many games during the year as a French team, so all games are important for us, but this one is different. It’s Australia against France. We want to show the Australians that we know how to play Australian Football and that we can beat them,” Sylvain said.

Naturally, the visiting side brings a strong line-up but in recent years, the French have certainly been able to match their opposition, just falling short at the final hurdle.

This year could be the chance for France to win their first ever women’s game, or potentially their first men’s game since 2013.

“The annual ANZAC Cup game has evolved over the years and so has the French team. In recent years, we have seen a rapid improvement in the game style and therefore game results from a French perspective,” said Andrew. “We can expect this improvement to continue and a more attacking brand of footy from the local team. Having said that, the Australian profiles look particularly dangerous so we will need to limit their time and space.”

There is plenty of experience in the French squad, as a number of the men’s players return this year, including previous winners of the Player of the Tournament in Thibaut Picard, Herve Desjardin, Pierre Leschales and Vincent Monnier.

In last year’s men’s game, the French side challenged the Australian’s deep into the final quarter before a couple of late bursts saw Australia come out on top by 17 points. In the women’s, the Australian’s were a bit more dominant, winning by 53 points on the back of some strong defence. However, with a strong lead up to the game, the French women are confident of their chances at recording their first ANZAC Cup win.

“Unfortunately, our players will not be able to pay their respects at the dawn service this year due to the timing. But it is still a great opportunity to interact with the fantastic VB community as well as recognise those who fought to defend France and reflect on the sacrifices that they made for us,” Andrew said.

This 11thedition of the ANZAC Cup is set to be another memorable event to remember those who sacrificed so much during World War One.

“It’s not just a game. What is more important to me is that by participating, we are supporting Australians and commemorate ANZAC Day. French people should remember that Australian soldiers were here for us during the First World War. We must have lasting gratitude for them”, said Sylvian. “Each year, it’s an emotional walk, an emotional game, an emotional day together in Villers-Bretonneux… I invite all French people to participate in the ceremonies taking place.”

For anyone visiting Villers-Bretonneux over the next few days, it will be an experience that will stay with them forever and for those pulling on the French and Australian guernseys, an unforgettable occasion as they represent their countries in a game of Australian Football.

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Ben Carter

Growing up in North Adelaide, Ben Carter was in the heart of South Australia’s capital – an area thriving with footy fanatics.

A passionate Port Adelaide supporter, Ben grew up playing Australian Football at a high level for the St Peter’s Old Collegians Football Club in the South Australian Amateur Football League.

With his passion for the sport of Australian Football having a big impact on the person Ben is today, Ben is a perfect fit to join 26 deserving Australians in this 11th edition of the annual ANZAC Cup.

Ben has been selected as the men’s Captain for this match, where he will lead the Australian Spirit team in the 2019 ANZAC Cup against the French National side on the 27thof April.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be named Captain of the ANZAC Cup team. It is an incredible opportunity to reflect and remember the sacrifices many ANZACs made for our freedom. For me personally, to honour my Great-great Uncle who died in the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux 101 years ago, just two kilometres away from our playing field, is something that is going to be very special for me.”

Ben has a whole lot to play for this ANZAC Day and with his family history so strongly connected to the armed services he is looking forward to making his family proud over the weekend. The historic town of Villers-Bretonneux means so much for Australian families as they remember the sacrifices that were made to protect the town and for the Carter family – this is no exception.

After serving in Gallipoli and then the Western Front, Ben’s Great-great Uncle David Allen was buried in the Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux and was awarded a Military Medal for his noble services.

“I am very excited and honoured to be able to represent my country at Villers-Bretonneux in the ANZAC Cup and the significance it has on my family and Australia’s history. It was a pivotal battle in the war, and it means a lot to me to be able to visit and pay my respects where my Great-great Uncle David fought and died for his country.”

Ben’s Great-great Uncle was seen as a hero by many and was awarded a Military Medal for his efforts during the War. History documents recorded that “Allen displayed great gallantry during heavy bombardment… he immediately commenced to dig out his men and bandage and carry wounded men out of the line. Whenever casualties were occurring, he would be found, cheering up and holding his platoon together by his own personal courage.”

Ben’s connection to the armed services would not rest with his Great-great Uncle. The family once again returned to the Armed Forces during World War II. Ben fondly recalls growing up hearing the stories of his Great Uncle Percy, his Great Grandfather, and both Grandfathers who all served in the Armed Forces during either World War I and World War II.

Ben’s father, Bruce Carter, is especially proud of their family’s long line of service and is the current Chairman of the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), following in the footsteps of his past generations.

“My father will be attending the ceremony and coming to watch me play. It is of equal importance to him as it is to me. Having such involvement with the Australian forces in his role as Chair of ASC, he is proud his son is able to represent our country on such an important day and in particular in Villers-Bretonneux. We look forward to being able to visit our Great-great Uncles grave together to pay our respects and to be able to set foot on the battlefield in which he fought so bravely. This is a truly unique experience for both of us and something I consider myself lucky to be able to share not only with my father but with the entire Australian Spirit team.”

With his team first attitude and incredible connection to Villers-Bretonneux, Ben will be a great captain and leader for the Australian Spirit men’s side on Saturday when the players pull on their Green and Gold playing jumpers to take on the French National side.

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

By Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – Round Five Review

It was a festival of football over the Easter break, as a special round five extended from Thursday to Monday and brought with it some incredible highlights.

Whether it be another Easter Monday classic between the Cats and Hawks, Eddie turning it on his 300thor the Blues serving up their first win of the year, footy fans across the nation were truly blessed throughout the holiday period.

For the Irish contingent, it was another big round of action at all levels, with the same four players from the previous two weeks flying the Irish flag in the AFL this past weekend.

It was a big Sunday afternoon for Gold Coast veteran Pearce Hanley, who brought up his 150thAFL game in a crucial clash with the Crows.

Coming into the game with a 3-1 record, expectations were high as the Suns looked to continue their strong run of form against an out of sorts Adelaide outfit.

However, in their toughest test of the year, the Suns youngsters ran out of gas at the Adelaide Oval as an inspired Crows side belted the inexperienced Gold Coast from pillar to post.

Serving as a key piece in a solid Suns defence over the past month of the season, Hanley had his best game for the year in the side’s 73-point defeat, as he constantly repelled Adelaide attacks and tried to spark the Suns ball movement.

Winding back the clock in his milestone game, Hanley would end up with 29 disposals, six marks and four tackles while using the ball at 70%, in what was a dominant performance off the half-back flank.

It was a very Good Friday for Conor McKenna’s Bombers as they tore apart a lacklustre North Melbourne side under the roof at Marvel Stadium.

After a slow start to the season, Essendon has really begun to hit their straps over the past three weeks, as three big wins have seen a number of key players come into form and their style of play move from strength to strength.

Renowned as one of the competitions most exciting and attacking sides, much of their ability to move the ball with frenetic pace comes from their defence, with young McKenna a particular driver off half back.

Reaching the 20-disposal mark for the fourth consecutive week, McKenna was again excellent on Friday afternoon as he ended up with 26 disposals and four inside 50’s with an excellent efficiency of 77%.

Very bold and forward thinking in the way he approaches his footy, the excitement of McKenna was on display for all to see against the Kangaroos, as he was never afraid to take the risky option and take on the opposition with his run and dash.

The famous Easter Monday clash between Geelong and Hawthorn would also see two Irish players go head to head, with Mark O’Connor and Conor Nash given the opportunity to compete on one of football’s biggest days.

In a tight tussle, the class of the Cats would just prevail as they held off a fast-finishing Hawthorn outfit to run out 23-point victors.

O’Connor would have perhaps his best game in the blue and white hoops, as he again played a pivotal role as a small defender in a tight Geelong back six.

Matched up against dangerous small forwards such as Chad Wingard and Luke Breust, the Irishmen more than held his own having 15 disposals and five marks whilst using the ball at an extremely impressive 87%.

Both Breust and Wingard would also fail to record a major, showing the tenacity and hunger of his defensive efforts on two of the game’s most skilful players.

On the other hand, it would be a day to forget for Nash inside Hawthorn’s forward 50, as the athletic Irishmen failed to have any major impact, only recording two disposals and two tackles for the afternoon.

At state level, it was exciting to see Zach Tuohy return to competitive football in the Cats nail-biting three-point win over Werribee in the VFL.

Playing across half-back, Tuohy showed his class throughout his limited game time, managing 14 disposals at a very efficient rate.

Meanwhile, in the NEAFL, fringe Sydney defender Colin O’Riordan was a stand-out in the Swans reserves victory over Redland.

Playing both in defence and up forward, O’Riordan was brilliant all day amassing 26 disposals and eight marks, as well as a clutch last quarter goal to see his side to a nail-biting victory.

With the ANZAC round now upon us, expect plenty more action from the AFL with a number of Irish players finding their feet at AFL level.

By Zac Standish.

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Nicole Young

From playing for Oxford in the grand final of the inaugural Australian Football National Universities League to playing in the 2nd Women’s Varsity Cup, Nicole Young has had a couple of busy months playing football.

It doesn’t stop there though; her list of achievements is about to grow even longer when she is set to lead out the Australian Spirit women’s team as Captain playing against a French national side in the 2019 ANZAC Cup at Villers-Bretonneux on the 27th of April.

“I was surprised and absolutely thrilled to receive the news that I had been selected as Captain… It is an absolute honour and while I am a little nervous – I am also excited to be able to lead a team of inspiring Australian women. Not just as we run out onto the field, but throughout the week of commemorations as we represent our country and ancestors,” Nicole said.

Nicole’s connection with the ANZAC’s goes all the way back to World War One, while she has also seen some close friends commit to the armed forces serving Australia.

Her Great-Great Grandmother’s two brothers, James L Partington and Preston P Partington, fought in World War One but tragically only Preston returned home. Nicole’s Great Grandfather Ernest P McShane also served as a member with the 40th Battalion during the first World War and he also fought during World War Two.

Visiting Villers-Bretonneux will be a sobering experience for Nicole, as Ernest fought there during WW1 and it’s also where James sadly lost his life fighting for his country.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Villers-Bretonneux or any other memorials yet, so this trip will be my first. I have no doubt that it will be both sobering and inspiring,” Nicole said.

Another family connection was her Great-great Aunt, Phyllis McShane, who married Malcolm Campbell, who was the brother of Alexander Campbell, the last known survivor from the Gallipoli campaign. More recently, two of Nicole’s friends have served with the Australian army in the peace-making attempts in Afghanistan.

“I know that such a large part of the Australia I know and love today, is due to the sacrifices made by many before me and the ongoing commitment by our current forces,” she said.

Because of her family history, Nicole sees this opportunity as a chance to represent her country in her own unique way, by playing a sport she grew up following as an avid fan.

Unfortunately, growing up in rural Tasmania meant there was no local women’s league, but she would still follow her brother and father, who both represented Tasmania, from the sidelines and took any opportunity to get a kick, be it in the backyard or at halftime.

Her playing career finally started to pick up in 2017, playing the AFL 7’s format in Melbourne. After moving to Oxford, England, in May 2018 she joined the Oxford University women’s team and has been a key member of that side, playing in the ruck where she is enjoying developing her skills and versatility.

However, the concept of the ANZAC Cup was one she only found out about recently.

“Soon after moving to the UK, I found out about the tournament and since then it was definitely something that I hoped I would be lucky enough to participate in,” she said.

To add even more personal connection with playing in the ANZAC Cup, Nicole’s parents are visiting from Australia for this occasion and will be in Villers-Bretonneux to watch the match.

This whole experience will be a special one for Nicole, like those who have played in previous years, and she knows what the occasion is all about.

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pay respect to those who have lost their lives and represent my country in a different light. By playing not only a game that I love but one that requires the determination, teamwork and endurance that is integral to the ANZAC spirit,” she said.

“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to represent my country, my ancestors and all past and present members of the armed forces.”

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

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

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.