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Around the Grounds

Farum Cats hold of Copenhagen Barracudas in DAFL Grand Final

Valby Park played host to the DAFL Grand Final at the weekend between the Farum Cats and Copenhagen Barracudas.

On what was a stunning Saturday afternoon it was the ‘Cudas who had the better of the early exchanges. Unfortunately, their inaccuracy in front of goal hurt them as the Cats kicked three majors to their five behinds. The 1st quarter ended with both sides locked at 31-points apiece.

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The Farum side turned it up a gear in the 2nd with a five goal to one term giving them a 22-point lead going into the main break. League Best and Fairest, William Andersen, was starting to get into the game and was really causing headaches for the home side.

The premiership quarter proved just that with the Cats piling on a further six goals. It was all but sewn up going into the last but the Barracudas had other ideas. They kept their opponents scoreless in the final term whilst they clawed back two goals. It should have been more for the boys from Copenhagen but their inaccuracy again hurt them.

The Farum Cats had done enough and claimed the coveted prize of DAFL Premiers. The final scorecard reading 16.10. 106 to 10.18. 78. Congratulations Cats, we’re looking forward to seeing you at the Champions League next year.

Goals

Farum Cats: W. Andersen 4, M. Norlander 4, M. Kjoge 4, M. Biron 2, C. Andersen, T. Ottesen

Copenhagen Barracudas: M. John 4, D. De Nardi 4, R. Sorensen, C. Kere

Best

Farum Cats: W. Andersen, J. Overgaard, M. Norlander, M. Kjoge, M. Biron, J. Secher, T. Lauritzen

Copenhagen Barracudas: M. John, D. De Nardi, J. Petersen, A. Hill

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Norrtalje Dockers knock off reigning champs the Sodermalm Blues in SAFF Grand Final

The Norrtalje Dockers have stormed home to claim the title of SAFF Premiers. They were up against it early with the Blues kicking a goal within the first 30 seconds of play.

They continued to have the better of it in the opening exchanges and it didn’t take long for them to extend their lead to 13-points.

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The Dockers couldn’t buy a goal early on kicking four straight points. Eventually Norrtalje broke through with the Swedish national ruckman, Buster Sund, putting through the Dockers first major.

Sodermalm went into their shells for a while and the Dockers capitalised piling on a number of goals. Dockers, Ryan Tucker and Steven Howard were proving a real handful for the Blues and their superior skills were on display.

The Dockers had given themselves a handy buffer and ultimately they couldn’t be caught. The final siren sounded and the Norrtalje Dockers were the new champions of SAFF – A great achievement by the club.

Final score card reading 12.12. 84 to 7.4. 46. Steven Howard of the Dockers was awarded the Ryan Kingsley Medal for best on ground in the final. Well done Steven.

Goals:

Norrtalje Dockers: M. Schulte 6, N. Innacone 3, B. Sund 2, S. Howard

Sodermalm Blues: M. Rappoccio 2, J. Briscoe, C. Tancredi, A. Cherry, L. Hagberg, J. Dahlberg

Best:

Norrtalje Dockers: S. Howard, B. Sund, R. Tucker, N. Innacone, M. Schulte, N. Jonsson, J. Sund, J. Darke

Sodermalm Blues: A. Cherry, M. Barton, J. Holm, M. Larsson

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Check out the full-match replay from BarTV Sports below:

 

The Flying Dutchmen make their 18-a-side International debut

On a makeshift football field in the middle of Battersea Park, London, The Dutch national side made the journey to compete against the reigning European Champions, the GB Bulldogs, in what their first full format International match.

The match started very evenly with a hot footy and big tackles being laid. Running with the breeze it was the Bulldogs who jumped out to an early three goals to one 1st quarter.

As the match wore on the superior fitness and team cohesion of GB proved too much for the Dutchmen who fought valiantly all day. The Bulldogs ran out convincing winners to continue their solid run on the international stage.

Regardless of the score line it was a monumental day for footy in Europe. Massive thanks must go to Neil Cooke of the Dutchmen and team GB manager, Jason Hill for arranging the hit-out.

Let’s hope more games like this continue to fill the AFL Europe calendar in the years to come.

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Manchester Mozzies celebrate 10 of the best

The Manchester Mozzies named their ‘Team of the Decade’ (2006-2016) at their recent awards night. It’s a great achievement to be recognised for your contributions to a football club both on and off the field.

Congratulations to all those who were named in the team.

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AFL Grand Final time!

It’s the Sydney Swans vs the Western Bulldogs in this weekend’s AFL Grand Final. Where ever you are in the world be sure to tune in.

Tag us in your Grand Final party photos and if your struggling for places to watch the game, follow the link below to find your perfect Grand Final party.

http://www.afl.com.au/tv-radio/overseas-gf-party-finder

 

Match of the Round

Holland vs Great Britain – Battersea Park, 10:30am

This Saturday the 24th of September will see Holland make the journey to London where they’ll be making their 18-a-side debut against newly crowned AFL Europe Championship winners, the Great Britain Bulldogs.

The match provides both teams with invaluable experience with the Bulldogs preparing for the International Cup in 2017 and the Flying Dutchmen continuing their rapid development as an AFL playing nation.

Battersea Park with be transformed into a full AFL oval allowing both teams to gain further knowledge of players and tactics in the year leading up to IC17.

The Flying Dutchmen will be bolstered by a couple of Australian’s who reside in Amsterdam, along with a handful of players from Oxford and AFL London to fill out a full squad of 22. Getting a squad together is a great achievement by all involved in Dutch football. They’ve been incredible hosts of the AFL Europe Champions League over the past two years and the DAFA 9s was a great success in season 2016. The Dutchies will be a strong opponent for the Bulldogs and despite going into this game as underdogs the punters might fancy the boys in Orange.

The Bulldogs have selected a slightly changed side from the European Championships with coach Dean Thomas looking to gain further insight into other eligible players in the build up to Australia. Craig Degville, Ryan Cawley, Dominic Mitchell, Charlie Steel, Tomos Wyn-Jones, Ian Mitchell, Spike Kilheeney and Josh Keeney join the squad. The remaining EC winners are Chris Britton, Michael Sharp, George Dibble, Lewis Gedney, Alex Overton, Jack Coughlan, Owain Ryland, Andy Walkden, Luke Booth, Myles Hudson, Jack Wood, James ‘Ryan Crowley’ Talbot, Matt Warwick, David Jordan, David Hastie and Andrew Cochran.

Bulldog’s Team Manager, Jason Hill, had this to say:

“It’s great to be able to get another fixture on the back of a successful EC and Neil Cooke has been pivotal in putting together a Dutch side to make their debut at this level. Great Britain AFL and the DAFA share a very positive relationship and we will do what we can to help grow their game and compete at this level. This gives us more valuable time on the pitch in preparation for IC and gives coach, Dean Thomas, a great chance to view more players within his system. We’re looking to be the most prepared Bulldog’s team of all time and believe that games like this will help us achieve that. I look forward to welcoming the Dutch to London now and in the future”.

The match is a great initiative and is something AFL Europe is be aiming to help facilitate more of in the near future. With a 10:30am bounce and at beautiful Battersea Park be sure to stop in and watch some full format Aussie Rules.

 

 

 

2016 AFL Europe Championships

Our wrap up of our AFL Europe Championship final day is now live. Congratulations to GB Swans and Great Britain Australian Rules Football on taking out the top prizes.

Exceptionally well fought ARFLI(Australian Rules Football League of Ireland)! Your lads were absolute gentlemen and we could not thank you enough for the amount of assistance you gave AFL Europe throughout the entire week, especially when you valiantly carried the posts off after your tough loss (and every other game day!).

Well done to German Eagles AFL for taking out the third place final and coming down to support the ladies on the Friday, running water and umpiring!! Congratulations to the Swedish Elks on their performance all week, we can’t wait to see you guys go strength to strength for ‪#‎IC17‬

Finally, a massive thank you to our incredible volunteers and those clubs/individuals that helped make the week happen! The Wandsworth Demons, your marquee was exceptionally well used! Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, what an amazing night you gave us on Saturday to cap off a great week! The Generator Hostel for your hospitality for most of our group! And the Wimbledon Hawks for your home ground!

We’ll see you all at #IC17 or ‪#‎EC19‬! ‪#‎AFLinEurope‬

Third Place Playoff – Germany Eagles vs Swedish Elks

The final day of play at the 2016 AFL Europe Championships started with the third place final between the two hardest hitters of the men’s competition, the German Eagles and Swedish Elks.

After a week of near perfect weather London saved its worst day for last with a howling wind running across the field and providing one end with a four to five goal advantage.

After a very physical encounter earlier in the week everyone was expecting this one to be to the same tune and it certainly didn’t disappoint. With the Eagles running with the wind in the first term you thought they would have had the better of the play. This wasn’t the case with a silly 50-meter penalty gifting Jacob Lantz Sweden’s opening goal.

Ruben Streicher was throwing his weight around for the Eagles crunching players left, right and centre. He started up forward but was switch down back early in the piece too sure up a rattle Eagles defence.

Sweden had the better of the first quarter as they went into the break with a 1-goal advantage after holding Germany scoreless.

The physicality went up a notch in the second term as neither side took a backward step. Ill-discipline cost the Elks as Germany got their first two goals of the match from 50-meter penalties.

Playing with the breeze was proving more difficult than first expected as Germany went into halftime up 3 goals to 1 as they were able to keep their opponents scoreless.

The Germans gained the ascendancy in the third term and again kept the Swedes to their solitary first term goal. They were kept in the game through the sheer will power of Hampus Olsson who took a handful of intercept marks and bombed it long out of trouble countless times.

Andreas Svensson had another huge game in midfield for the Swedes and proved why he was later crowned ‘Player of the Tournament’ with another influential performance.

With a 3-goal lead going into the final quarter it appeared the Swedish side had run out of legs. They handled the wind better this time around and were peppering the goals early. 2 goals in quick succession to the Elks and it was game on. When Lantz bent one back from a tight angle they were well within reach and with only moments on the clock the crowd were on their feet.

The Elks were again bombing into their forward line and only needed a point to put the game into extra time. A long kick into the Swedes goal square saw the ball rush through for a behind. Unbeknown to the crowd a free-kick had been given for a push in the back with the Germans quickly kicking the ball well out of danger.

When the final siren sounded neither side knew of the result as the scoreboard displayed a draw. After a moment of discussion, the confusion was cleared and Germany were informed of their incredibly victory.

Full credit must go to coach’s Mark Woods and Ryan Tucker for their amazing efforts not only getting their sides to the tournament but for promoting a hard and tough style of football adopted by their respective sides.

In what turned out to be the match of the day the final scoreboard read Germany 4.6. 30 to Sweden’s 4.5 29.

Goals:

Germany: K. Haigh, J. Huesken, T. Menzel, J. Orlowski

Sweden: J. Lantz 2, K. Karlsson, C. Martensson

Best:

Germany: R. Streicher, F. Neumann, J. Jung, M. Schutoff, M. Thormann, T. Thormann

Sweden: A. Svensson, C. Martensson, H. Olsson, A. Olsson, B. Sund, T. Lindgran

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Women’s Final – GB Swans vs Irish Banshees

The much anticipated women’s final followed the third place playoff with only a draw and a 1-point victory to the Swans separating the two squads throughout their round matches.

The wind had picked up and was going to make a big difference in this game and whichever side was going to adapt quicker would come away with the much coveted title of ‘Champions of Europe’.

As expected it was an absolute dogfight to start the game. Stoppage after stoppage was created by both sides fierce attack on the football and their committed defensive pressure.

The crowd were in for a treat as the ruck dual between Clara Fitzpatrick of Ireland and Lea Cobham of GB was incredible to watch.

Onora Mulcahy was paid the utmost respect from the GB coaching panel as they opted to tag the ball magnet by employing her AFL London teammate, Rose Lewis, to do the job.

Despite it being a goalless first quarter the crowd were heavily invested in the game as the ferocity shown by both sides had passers by stopping in to see what all the fuss was about.

50-meter penalties seemed to be the flavour of the day as a GB centre-half forward, Rania Ramadan, was marched into the goal square to convert what turned out to be the match-winning and only goal of the game.

From here the game evolved into a scrap with nearly all 36 players on field descending on the Irish forward 50 to make sure nothing went through the Banshees goal.

The last quarter flew by as the Irish did everything they could to get within range to put through that much needed major. Full credit to the Swans defence who stood up when needed to repel anything and everything that came their way.

When the final siren sounded the home crowd erupted with jubilation and stormed the field to celebrate with the new champions of Europe, the GB Swans. The girls were out on their feet and should be proud of how they represented not only their countries but also the amazing development of women’s football in Europe.

The final scorecard reading 1.2. 8 to 0.2. 2.

Goals:

GB Swans: R. Ramadan

Irish Banshees:

Best:

GB Swans: L. Cobham, A. Saulter, D. Saulter, F. Blount, L. Smith, R. Ramadan

Irish Banshees: C. Fitzpatrick, O. Mulcahy, A. Payne, M. Walsh, M. Beaven, L. Connolly

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Men’s Final – Irish Warriors vs GB Bulldogs

The main event had finally arrived. The all-conquering Irish Warriors were against up-and-comers the GB Bulldogs in what was set to be one for the ages following their 1-point thriller only days beforehand.

Last time they had meet in the European Championships Final was in 2013 when a last second Irish snap gave the Warriors victory.

The Irish had been the form side all tournament, showing why they have been European and International Champions on numerous occasions.

The Bulldogs, in front of a home crowd, had other ideas and jumped out of the blocks early to register 5 first quarter goals to the Warriors 1 running with the wind. Andy Walkden contributed 2 of those majors and was looking dangerous whenever he went near the footy.

The GB side had come out with a plan and executed it to perfection in the opening exchanges. The big test for them was going to come in the second term when the Irish had the wind at their backs.

The second term didn’t go as expected for the Irish who were bombing away long whenever they got the football in their hands. This was exactly what the Bulldogs wanted as their spare man racked up a ton of the footy.

The Irish looked rattled and didn’t have an answer for what the Bulldogs were throwing at them. Their usual run and carry was non-existent and cracks were starting to show.

One of the best players all tournament, Kevin O’Brien from Ireland, was being tagged out of the game by GB’s, James Talbot. The little general from AFL London was quick to tell this reporter of his unsung efforts as a lock-down midfielder throughout the week at the tournament after-party on Saturday.

Likewise, the tournament’s equal leading goal scorer, Padraic O’Connell, was being well held by the dependable, Matty Goodman, whose added counterattack was immense for the home side.

The unthinkable had happened and the Irish had been kept goalless running with the breeze. The Bulldogs had their tails up going into halftime and with one hand on the trophy they weren’t going to let this slip.

A spirited halftime speech from the Irish coach had the boys in green raring to go after the main break. Two quick goals to Colin O’Lordian and Muiris Bartley gave the Warriors a sniff but to GB’s credit they absorbed the pressure and took control of the game.

A late goal to Andy Walkden calmed the nerves of the boisterous home crowd and gave the Bulldogs a 3 goal advantage going into the final term.

The Irish knew they could close the gap and with the wind coming over their shoulders the Bulldogs knew it was still anyone’s game.

The Warriors had the better of the final term but poor foot skills really hurt them going forward and they were unable to convert their chances. Time was getting away from them and when Walkden converted his fourth goal of the day it was all but over for the reigning champions.

A late goal to Kevin McDonnell left it too little, too late for the Irish and when the final siren sounded a new champion of Europe was crowned.

Andy Walkden was huge for the Bulldogs and became only the second player in the tournament to register a unanimous best on ground performance. A huge effort in a grand final by the GB half forward.

The final score read 7.9. 51 to 4.5. 29.

Both sides proved they be tough opponents when they play in next year’s International Cup in Melbourne and will do their Countries and AFL in Europe proud.

All sides should be proud of how they represented their countries and we can’t wait to see how everyone develops in the future.

A huge shout out to the umpiring squad for officiating an amazing week of football and to all volunteers who gave up their time to help in any way possible.

Hopefully we’ll see a few familiar faces at the upcoming Euro Cup in Lisbon.

Goals:

GB: A. Walkden 4, M. Cashman, D. Hastie, C. Britton

Ireland: M. Bartley, G. Murray, C. O’Lordian, K. Mccdonnell

Best:

GB: A. Walkden, L. Booth, J. Coughlan, M. Hudson, C. Britton, M. Goodman

Ireland: G. Walls, C. Fitzgerald, C. O’Halloran, D. Joyce, D. McElhone, K. O’Brien

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The Top 10s

WOMEN

Player of the TournamentVotesTeam
Clara Fitzpatrick41Irish Banshees
Rania Ramadan28GB Swans
Claire Messent25Crusaders
Onora Mulcahy25Irish Banshees
Danni Saulter25GB Swans
Alex Saulter24GB Swans
Aisling Gillespie23Irish Banshees
Rebecca Dickson21Crusaders
Marley Beaven19Irish Banshees
Chloe Hall16GB Swans

 

Leading Goal KickerGoalsTeam
Aisling Gillespie6Irish Banshees
Caroline Sellar3GB Swans
Danni Saulter3GB Swans
Rania Ramadan3GB Swans
Ashleigh Payne2Irish Banshees
Lea Cobham2GB Swans
Chloe Hall2GB Swans
Naomi Curtis2Irish Banshees
Ciara Moane1Irish Banshees
Louise Darby1GB Swans

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MEN

Player of the TournamentVotesTeam
Andreas Svensson27Swedish Elks
Kevin O’Brien26Irish Warriors
Muiris Bartley24Irish Warriors
Gavin Murray24Irish Warriors
Jakob Jung22German Eagles
Hampus Olsson21Swedish Elks
Andrew Walkden16GB Bulldogs
Tristan Thormann14German Eagles
Buster Sund14Swedish Elks
Ruben Streicher14German Eagles

 

 

Leading Goal KickerGoalsTeam
Paudric O’Connell9Irish Warriors
Marc Cashman9GB Bulldogs
David Hastie7GB Bulldogs
Andrew Walkden7GB Bulldogs
Jan Huesken6German Eagles
Dominic Joyce5Irish Warriors
Jack Coughlan5GB Bulldogs
Muiris Bartley5Irish Warriors
Gavin Murray5Irish Warriors
Eoin O’Murchu4Irish Warriors

 

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2016 AFL EUROPE CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2016 AFL Europe Championship Schedule taking place in London from August 13-20th.  AFL Europe’s triennial 18-a-side tournament is a warm up for the AFL International Cup in August 2017. With match days falling on, Sunday 14th, Tuesday 16th, Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th at Motspur Park (Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Ground, KT3 6NE) this year’s competitors are:

 

MEN

German Eagles

Great Britain Bulldogs

Irish Warriors

Swedish Elks

 

WOMEN

European Crusaders (Made up from France, GB and Scandinavia)

Great Britain Swans

Irish Banshees

 

SCHEDULE

DAY ONE – SUNDAY 14TH AUGUST

1pm Irish Warriors v German Eagles

3pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Swedish Elks

 

DAY TWO – TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST

4pm German Eagles v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Irish Warriors

 

DAY THREE – THURSDAY 18TH AUGUST

1.30pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

2.15pm Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

3pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

4pm Irish Warriors v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v German Eagles

 

DAY FOUR – FRIDAY 19TH AUGUST

11.30am Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

12.15pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

1pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

 

DAY FIVE – SATURDAY 20TH AUGUST

1pm Men’s Third Place PO

2.30pm Women’s Grand Final

3.30pm Men’s Grand Final

 

Good luck to all involved, we can’t wait to host you in London from 13th-20th August 2016.

 

For volunteering, physiotherapists, or umpires please email admin@afleurope.org

Tuesday Around the Grounds

 

International Cup (IC17) dates and location announced

The AFL has announced the 2017 AFL International Cup (IC17) will be held in Melbourne, from August 5-19.

It will be the sixth International Cup and will include both men’s and women’s competitions.

The AFL’s head of community and international development Grant Williams said he expects the 2017 carnival to be the biggest yet.

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Finland AFL’s 2016 Season kicks off

Finland AFL (FAFL) started this weekend with both Round 1 & 2 being completed in a Round Robin format.

Despite being hosted by the 2015 Premiers the Helsinki Heatseekers, the Turku Dockers came out guns blazing to beat both the Heatseekers and the Vaasa Wombats.

Results:

Helsinki Heatseekers 1.1.7 def. by Turku Dockers 5.6.36
Turku Dockers 10.2.62 def Vaasa Wombats 3.1.19
Helsinki Heatseekers 6.8.44 def Vaasa Wombats 5.6.36

 

AFL Head of Community and International Development visits AFL Europe

AFL Europe was fortunate enough to have Grant Williams, Head of Community & International Development for The AFL, visit Headquarters in Australia House for a few days of planning and strategy discussions.

We are excited about the way forward in terms of developing fledgling nations, women’s footy, and youth development.

 

Ex-AFL London player, Jess Edwards, represents South Australia 

Ex-AFL London and Wandsworth Demons player Jess Edwards played in the South Australia v Northern Territory friendly, that took place on Saturday night at The Oval in Adelaide.

The South Australian’s wowed with a 27-point win over Northern Territory, managing to keep them to one point after quarter time.

Edwards was the leading goal kicker slotting 2 of the 6 majors.

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100 of the Best from Port Malmo veteran 

Aaran Higgins notched up his 100th game for the Port Malmo Maulers at weekend with a convincing 178-38 win against Helsingborg.

The fearless midfielder, who is the current President of the Maulers, has been at the club since 2008 and spent three at the helm as senior coach.

Congratulations Az, a great achievement.

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GB Bulldogs announce first 18 for AFL Europe Championships.

The Great Britain Bulldogs have announced their first 18 players after a training camp in Manchester this weekend.

The first 18 so far comprise of players from the Huddersfield Rams, London Swans, Manchester Mosquitoes, North London Lions, Wandsworth Demons, West London Wildcats, Wimbledon Hawks and Wolverhampton Wolverines. Head Coach has been named as Dean Thomas.

#BackTheBulldogs

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Auskick programme is introduced in Malta

Head of Community & International Development for the AFL, Grant Williams met with Sport Malta and the Australian High Commission to introduce AFL into the winter sports programme.

The initiative aims to promote Aussie Rules amongst girls and boys from a young age, teaching them the skills of the game.

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GB Bulldogs player’s profile: Luke Matias

By Michael McCormick

Great Britain Bulldog and adopted Australian, Luke Matias is a man who has embraced every opportunity that has arisen and epitomises the spirit of the International Cup. In this Q and A session, he reveals another side of the competition and the amazing impact that it has had on his life.

Q. What position do you play for GB?

A. Midfield, with rotations through the half-back line

Q. How long have you played for GB?

A. 10 years.  My first appearance for GB was in 2004, followed by Vice-Captaining the squad for the IC in 2005, IC’08 and IC’11.

Q. What’s your fondest memory of your time with the Bulldogs?

A. I love playing in the International Cups.  I remember back to my first IC in 2005, being in an environment during the ‘Country Round’ where I was listening to the Samoan team singing random Polynesian songs in perfect harmony, with the South African team and the Japanese team cheerleaders dancing around to it.  Never in my life would I have imagined the opportunity to see this!  The shear spectacle of seeing differing cultures at war on the field and then coming together off the field is something I will remember for my whole life.  I have made many friends from all corners of the world through the three IC’s I have been a part of, and this year I’m looking forward to making some more.

Q. What are your personal goals for the International Cup?

A. The 2011 IC was really injury-effected for me, so firstly I’m really looking at preparation/recovery to ensure I’m ready for the very hectic schedule as one of my personal goals.

Another is to show what opportunities Australia can present to internationals. I came to Australia in 2005 and had no plans to stay any longer than partying for a few months before heading back to the UK.  I don’t even remember the plan changing, all I remember is that more and more opportunities presented themselves and with a lot of hard work, Australia has provided me with the most wonderful of family, friends and lifestyle.  I will certainly ensure that everyone is aware of what a great place they are coming to visit.

But, without question the main goal for me is to provide a steady leadership and experienced mind to the rest of the squad from a football standpoint.  I know the emotional rollercoaster a lot of the boys will be on, so if I can help provide support for the squad, on and off the field, I know I will have accomplished plenty.

Q. What chance do GB have of taking the cup home?

A. Wow, taking the Cup home is a big ask.  GB has never finished higher than 6th, so talking suddenly about taking the Cup home is a bit disrespectful to the teams around us.  We do certainly have our strongest squad to date so I’d love to think we can have the best IC GB has ever partaken in.

#bulldogsweek #AFLIC14 #IC14

IC14 preview: GB Bulldogs

By Michael McCormick

The most improved team in Europe is also one of the most feared teams in the International Cup.

The Great Britain Bulldogs are shaping up as a smokey to take out the title having had their strongest season in 2013.

The 2013 European Championships Runners Up and 2013 Axios Euro Cup Premiers appear ready and eager to take on the world’s best and, according to AFL England President and Bulldogs Team Manager, Adam Bennett, will be giving their all to take home the cup.

“As the old adage says, you have to beat the best to be the best and we want to be the best,” stated Bennett.

Quite a few new faces have been introduced since the 2011 International Cup and with an injection of youth, the Bulldogs will be better placed to endure the intensity of the matches this year.

“We are seeing the next generation of footballers come through who have started their footy at a much younger age than previous Bulldogs squads and represent a very positive development for the sport in Britain.”

Stalwarts such as captain, Sean Walton and Anthony Trigg will be leading the young brigade as they aim to put Great Britain in the public eye and gain acknowledgement as a great footballing nation.

It hasn’t been an easy road however. The players from every club in Australia and Great Britain have dedicated years of hard work and thousands of pounds into developing their game in order to play in the International Cup.

“After all the hard work, it’s a shame that the funding available for footy in the UK is very limited, so players contribute a large proportion of their own costs for tours such as this,” said Bennett.

The time spent in Australia, also the first trip down under for many of the players, is not all about business. Bennett explained that the team will also have the opportunity to meet some of the game’s greats.

“The International Cup is also a great chance to meet the legends of the game, such as Ron Barrassi and Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico.”

Having secured a tour of the Western Bulldogs facilities and a meet and greet with the players in 2011, the Great Britain Bulldogs will be hoping for another opportunity of the like.

“With professional footy such a distant thing for most of the squad, the opportunity to meet and chat with any professional of this fantastic game is immense,” said Bennett.

Travelling with the team will be coach, Mark Pitura in his farewell event with the club after having served a very successful five year tenure.

He will be supported by a new Assistant Coach and Manager and the team physiotherapist, Claire Shapland, who put the squad through conditioning and fitness workshops in the months leading up to the event.

As well as these workshops, other training strategies were implemented such as allowing players from the 9’s competition in Britain to play in the London 18’s competition on weekends during the season.

Even though the Bulldogs are eager to play teams outside of Europe, they still have a point to prove.

“The Bulldogs would also relish another crack at International and European Champions Ireland, after a heart-breaking 1-point loss on the last kick of the 2013 European Championships,” said Bennett.

The Bulldogs have their sights firmly placed on a top four finish and with their recent form and developing youth, it appears a realistic expectation.

#bulldogsweek #IC14 #AFLIC14

GB3

Pictures by Derek Clarke