By Lee Crossley
WANDSWORTH DEMONS have firmed as this year’s AFL London flag favourites after their come-from-behind win against reigning premiers the West London Wildcats on Saturday.
The Wildcats took a comfortable 27-point buffer into the main break but the Demons completely dominated the third term, booting 8.1 to nothing to steal the lead and set up a 17.11 (113) to 10.6 (66) win at Clapham Common.
Demons coach Jarryd Browne attributed the turn-around to a revised game plan in the second half.
“We were playing some dumb football in the first half,” he said. “We went through our structures and the wind died and we started to get on top in the middle.
“Once the momentum changed it was smooth sailing.”
Demons skipper Mark Brescacin continued his red-hot form, bagging another seven majors giving him 20 for the season from just three games.
While delighted with the result, Browne said nobody in red and blue were getting too ahead of themselves.
“They (West London) showed in the first half they will still be the team to beat,” he said.
“They had an important injury at halftime with their ruckman going down which allowed our ruckman Rhys McNay, to get on top in the middle.
“Make no mistake, they are still the benchmark. Yes we had a good win but we’re not counting our chickens just yet.”
Browne paid testament to the European players in his Demons team.
“We had three British debutantes who really asserted themselves really well. One guy had never seen the game before and kicked two goals!”
It was a different story in the conference division with Shepherds Bush Raiders defeating Clapham Demons 12.5 (77) to 8.4 (52) in a scrappy affair in windy conditions.
Lachy Dowling booted four goals for the Raiders.
In the Social competition, Travis Chiuchiarelli booted the winning point in the last minute in his first AFL London game, to get Ealing Emus across the line against South London Demons.
The other two matches resulted in massive blowouts with Putney and North London doing a number on Wimbledon and London Swans respectively.
Putney, away at Motspur Park, blew Wimbledon away in the second term with an eight-goal-to-one term to set up the 23.11 (149) to 8.3 (51) thrashing.
Magpies full-forward Andrew Slevison was best on ground with 11 goals — his second efforts once the ball hit the deck were sublime.
He was fed by a host of consistent midfielders including skipper Greg Chapman, Jared Jones, Aaron Knappman and Clayton Fitzgerald.
Big men Luke Jackson and Jacob Bailey provided plenty of structure up the spine, continuously pumping the ball back into the forward line throughout the day.
The win was the Magpies’ best for the year and sent a strong message to the Demons and Wildcats of their potential when they’re on-song.
Across town at Shoreditch the Lions found some bite for the first time this year, winning 20.15 (135) to 5.10 (40) against a luckless London Swans side.
Lions’ coach Adam Littlechild, who benefited from some handy work up the field to boot four goals, said the win would provide some much needed morale for the club which, prior to Saturday was still winless.
“I suppose it’s a realisation that we can compete with the top four teams,” he said.
“It puts in the knowing that we should be able to play finals this year.
“I couldn’t speak highly enough of our EUs, you couldn’t really tell they hadn’t grown up with the game. They competed and looked really familiar with it.”
Kiwi Jimmy again troubled the scorers with three goals, as did compatriot Brian Chisholm.
Dean Ipaviz, skipper Courtney Shergold and Beau Jedd were among the Lions’ best.
Several incidents around the grounds on the sunny English weekend prompted spectators and players alike to mutter ‘only in AFL London’:
– three ‘Leigh Matthews-like incidents’ of goal posts coming down at Shoreditch due to players colliding with the uprights.
– a green flare let off on the boundary at Motspur Park during the Magpies-Hawks match.
– an EU player for the Magpies taking a mark whilst holding a water bottle, playing on and kicking the ball upfield (still holding water bottle).
And across at Peckham Rye, fans could be forgiven for thinking Australia’s AFL newcomers, GWS Giants, were making a guest appearance.
AFL London’s Dulwich Giants, affiliated with the AFL’s newest club back home in Australia, took to the field in GWS strips for the first time, which were donated by the Sydney team.
While the Giants were defeated by Putney, 14.12 (96) to 6.4 (40), they by no means disgraced themselves nor the guernsey — in fact Kevin Sheedy could do worse than replicating some of their good work at centre bounces!
Looking forward, there’s no footy this weekend with a bye giving players and officials a well-deserved break and a chance to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. However keep an eye on the news on Saturday night with several clubs heading to the gee-gees at Epsom for some shenanigans.
Who do you think will win the AFL London flag this year? Tell us below: