The Home of Football in WA played host to a strong field of new and current AFL 9s teams at the inaugural AFL 9s Tournament at Patersons Stadium on Saturday 29th November.
The weather turned it on for the sold out field of 40 teams playing over 3 divisions – Mixed, Men’s and Over 35s. National AFL 9s Ambassador and Sydney Swans Premiership Player, Jude Bolton, made the trip across the Nullarbor to lend his skills to a number of teams on the day with plenty requiring the extra set of fresh legs.
The mixed competition played host to a number of experienced teams from throughout WA. The standings showed that experience matters with 3 of 4 finalists having hundreds of games under their belt. However, the wild card team ‘Grow the Game’ wedged themselves into the grand final after beating the ‘Hayden Ballan-Nines’ in the semi-final. Coming from fourth place, the Niners made it to the big dance and it was all tied up with 30 seconds to go when one of the girls from the Niners kicked a 9 pointer to seal the game. In addition to the strong competition in the mixed there was also a different kind of success with Cyril’s Confectionary Company taking out the Warwick Capper Best Dressed Team award with their pink tu-tu’s and Cyril Rioli masks.
The old boys division (Over 35’s) proved to be the battle of the fittest with a number of players hobbling around after playing their 4 games for the day. Come finals time it was the AFL Masters teams that ruled the pack with Wembley Vets, Rossmoyne Masters and the Northern Warriors making it through against a group of volleyball mates with a bit of football experience (the Rhino’s). The Rhino’s were out to get just one last premiership to round out a strong sporting career and that they did to convincingly win the grand final.
The open division was ‘open’ for anyone to win. A number of ex-AFL players including Des Headland, Brett Peake and Richard Hadley turned out to try their hand at AFL 9s. A number of teams tipped to be there and there abouts faced a tough draw and it showed. The cream rose to the top however, with Washed Up taking on the Richie Benaud All-Stars in the grand final. When the final siren sounded, the boys who claimed they were ‘washed up’ were just too good.
In other news, the inaugural ‘Hey Jude’ award for the player who played the game in the best spirit went to Gavin Huntley, a veteran AFL 9s head and an all-round good bloke.
The inaugural AFL 9s Tournament proved to be a great day and fun for all. Early bird registrations for the 2015 Tournament will be open in the coming months at www.afl9stournament.com.au