7 Oct, 2018
MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTY 2018-19 PREMIERSHIP SEASON - PRESENTED BY AUSSIE SPORTS USA
6 Oct, 2018
FOOTY SHINES BRIGHT IN #THEBURG
Australian Football has taken root in West Florida.
Half a world away from the sport’s storied home, ‘footy’ is growing in the Sunshine City, as the St. Petersburg Swans continue to gain a place in the ultra-hip city’s sporting and cultural scene.
As Swans have taken practices and matches to five venues around the city during 2018, and hosted kids’ footy camps at local public youth rec centers and private schools, the independent club has set its sights on making the city by the Bay – affectionately known as ‘The ‘Burg’ by locals – a hub for Australian Rules Football in the state.
A Swans’ visit to the region’s pro soccer team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, for the team’s annual Cultural Appreciation Night kick-started the Bloods’ outreach efforts, as an opportunity to increase footy’s exposure in the community increased an awareness in the sport.
That elevated profile has seen the Swan partner with an array of local, regional and national businesses who see the potential for the Swans’ unique position in this most appropriate of cities.
Hailed by an array of lifestyle magazines as one of the ‘hippest’ cities in not only Florida or the United States, but globally, St. Petersburg’s growth into a cultural mecca for millennials, while of course remaining a leading destination for beach-goers, has the region primed for footy’s immense appeal.
And, thanks to the area’s storied winter weather, the locals will have an opportunity to take in football year-round, as Major League Footy pivots to an October – March Premiership Season schedule.
With an eye on carving its own niche on the global footy scene, the independent circuit exclusively plays an export version of Aussie Rules.
Game play is on a 120 yard x 60 yard rectangular field, with seven players aside. That differs from the traditional 18-a-side on a cricket oval of Australian football.
This abbreviated form of footy has found a natural home in St. Petersburg, as the Swans successfully completed a summer season featuring 26 consecutive weeks of training and competitive play, all while experiencing impressive growth.
With the league making the move to a more conducive spot on the weather calendar, the Swans will embark on a 2018-19 season that begins October 27, with games played on selected Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The Major League Footy 2018-19 Championship Final will also be played at a Pinellas County venue, where the two best sides in the burgeoning competition will face off.
In continuing footy’s march into the mainstream of St. Pete’s sport and culture scene, the Swans will also hold their 2018 Awards Night in conjunction with a pub crawl through the city’s Edge District and downtown, October 13 at 7 PM.
LAKELAND TIGERS HOLD 1st PICK IN MLF WINTER DRAFT
The Lakeland Tigers, standing with a record of 3 wins and 7 losses in Major League Footy play in 2017-18, hold the first overall pick in the 2018 Major League Footy Winter Player Draft.
The independent competition’s second Winter Player Draft will be held October 18, 2018.
Heading into the 2018-19 Premiership Season, seven drafting clubs will select four ‘core’ players on a territorial basis to compete in the circuit’s new October – March regular season schedule of head-to-head play.
The remaining six players for each side’s 10-player full list will be assigned by the league.
The Miami Saints – who will play during the 2018-19 Season – have a protected player territory, and will not participate in the MLF Winter Player Draft.
In addition, the ‘State of Origin’ representative teams – the Pittsbugh Blackbirds and Greater Northern Philadelphia will not have selections in the draft, as those sides feature players representing those specific regions.
The 2018 MLF Winter Player Draft selection order is based on the order of finish in the 2017-18 MLF Winter Season, with the Lakeland Tigers holding the first overall selection.
The full selection order is below. Sides will select Rounds 2-4 in same sequential order as Round One (below):
|TAMPA BAY BOMBERS||NA||6-3||6-3|
|ST. PETERSBURG SWANS
In addition to the Winter Player Draft, each side may be assigned up to eight free agent or entry players per season.
As Major League Footy pursues an initiative to see all current ‘single-entity’ sides become independently managed and operated by the 2020 season, the MLF Winter Draft is designed to create a local core group of players, administrators and supporters for each side.
Draft selections may be traded in advance of the time of selection, and players may be traded at any time during the season. Players may also be traded for future draft selections.
There are no limitations on the number of import players, either on a player list or on the ground. All players are eligible to participate.
MLF UNVEILS ‘THIS IS OUR SEASON’ CAMPAIGN
Major League Footy has unveiled a revitalized branding campaign in advance of the launch of the 2018-19 Premiership Season.
With the circuit’s transition to an October – March season of head-to-head match play, the Major League Footy regular season will occupy the traditional ‘off-season’ for Aussie Rules Football, both in Australia and abroad, while leveraging live broadcast of select matches, which will also begin with the new season.
The ‘This Is Our Season’ outreach campaign will begin across social media platforms – as well as print media in the Central Florida region – in advance of the 2018-19 Premiership Season, which will kick off Saturday, October 27, 2018.
Starfish FC will visit ‘cross-town’ rivals the St. Petersburg Swans in the Season Opener of the independent competition’s 2018-19 Premiership Season.
Major League Footy match play is based on an export version of Australian Rules Football, further customized for American players and audiences.
The MLF 2018-19 schedule will be released Tuesday, October 8.
The schedule features select Thursday, Friday and Saturday night matches (7 PM start), as well as Saturday and Sunday daytime starts (12 PM and 4 PM)
Select Saturday dates will be also scheduled as ‘double-headers’, with teams playing two matches of 20 minutes total time (no time on).
MLF SET TO ANNOUNCE 2018-19 SCHEDULE
With the conclusion of the 2018 Summer Premiership Season only just in the rear-view after last weekend’s Starfish FC 120-114 win over the St. Petersburg Swans, Major League Footy is set for a most unusual ‘offseason’.
Already announced is an October 27 Season Opener for the 2018-19 campaign, fittingly a rematch between the Swans and ‘Fish.
That schedule means a four-week break will follow the 26-week Summer schedule, an arduous task, to be sure.
As the independent circuit of 7-a-side Australian Football looks to expand its footprint, the competition has announced a pivot to an October – March head-to-head season, followed by a Finals series that will culminate with a Championship Final, April 20, 2019.
Major League Footy matches will be played on select Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with 7 PM start times. A number of Saturday and Sunday day games will round out the fixture.
Entering the 2018-19 Season, 8 sides will each be slated for a minimum of eight MLF matches. Three sides will qualify for the Finals, with the top seed receiving a bye as the 2nd and 3rd seeds meet in a Preliminary Final April 13, 2019.
Club lists will be set in a territorial draft to be held October 18. Seven sides will participate in a four round draft to establish their core player lists for the 7-a-side, 10-player roster lists.
After a Summer that consistently saw game-time temperatures hovering around 100 F (the ‘feels like’ temp for the September 29 Championship registered at 108 F), an October – March fixture will see the Florida-based sides play in more ‘footy- appropriate’ conditions.
The Major League Footy 2018-19 Premiership Season schedule will be released Tuesday, October 9.
McINTOSH WRITING OWN FLORIDA FOOTY HISTORY
Perhaps no other event highlighted the St. Petersburg Swans’ successful run to a 7-4 mark that saw them finish as Major League Footy minor premiers and runners-up in the Championship Finals quite like the arrival of Queenslander Ben McIntosh.
With an exceptional 75-goal tally over 16 games – including 11 in the Red and White – McIntosh set a new scoring mark in taking full advantage of the circuit’s 120 yard x 60 yard ground.
In all, McIntosh registered an unprecedented 86% accuracy rate, as only 12 of his 87 scoring shots went as behinds.
His ability to also capitalize on the format’s 10-point ‘supergoals’ from beyond 40 also helped the Swans pace the competition in scoring, as St. Petersburg notched 754 points on the campaign.
The Swans’ average of 69 points a game is especially noteworthy when viewed in the context of the league’s standard game play of two 10-minute halves per match.
That’s a lot of scoring in precious little time.
McIntosh’s ability to score from anywhere on the ground helped elevate the overall offense, as his influence spread like wildfire throughout the Swans’ developing player roster.
If scoring is indeed contagious in footy, St. Petersburg’s season-long pace of 3.45 points per minute of play is a virus welcome in any rooms.
In an early-season run that saw him average 11 majors a game, McIntosh eclipsed Miami’s Neil Cohen – also a prolific kick – and he never looked back.
With six majors in the Major League Footy 2018 Summer Premiership Championship Final, McIntosh once again led all scorers, despite missing the entire second quarter and part of the fourth due to injuries to both heels.
That missed time loomed large in St. Petersburg’s last-minute 120-114 loss to Starfish FC in the Final and likely will reverberate as a key ‘what if’ for Swans’ coaches Greg Bray and Matt Elliott.
Fortunately, he skippers won’t have to ponder what ‘might have been’ very long.
The Swans will open the 2018-19 Premiership Season in a rematch with the ‘Fish, Saturday, October 27, as Major League Footy pivots to an October-March season schedule.
Odds are the Swans will be coming with their gunner locked in as they look to avenge last Saturday’s result – and an eye on writing his own piece of Florida footy history.
SIX ON TROT FUELS ‘FISH TO FLAG
After an 0-2 start that would slide to a 1-4 hole, Starfish FC found themselves mired at the bottom of the Major League Footy ladder at the midseason mark.
The Wooden Spoon appeared much more likely than any talk of finishing in the Top Three.
In a scintillating six game win streak, St. Petersburg’s original footy side did all that one better in a history-making run to the flag that ended with a last-minute win over the Swans, Saturday at Crescent Lake in St. Pete.
After dropping both ends of a season-opening twin-bill, the Starfish belted the Swans in a 142-78 blowout in May, but a second double-header sweep – this time at the hands of the Tampa Bay Bombers seemed to have made the Blue and Gold irrelevant in any post-season discussion.
When a series of rain-outs plagued their mid-summer schedule, the side was thrown into a nearly-impossible deficit behind the pack.
‘Nearly’ being the operative word, as the club would not lose during a September run that saw Starfish FC post wins in the last four regular season matches to get them into the Preliminary Final against Tampa Bay.
A convincing 91-55 win over the Bombers – who had come in to the circuit’s Finals at 6-2 – put Starfish FC into the Championship Final against a heavily-favored Swans side.
Heroic efforts across the ground saw Starfish FC – once seemingly relegated to the bottom of the table – pull out a 120-114 comeback win over the Swans to take the flag in dramatic fashion.
Finishing the 2018 Major League Footy Summer Premiership Season at 7-4, the ‘Fish will now enjoy just a four week respite before returning to the ground.
The 2018-19 Season kicks off Saturday, October 27 with a Swans – Starfish rematch.
STARFISH CAPTURE FLAG IN 120-114 THRILLER
A Clint Jones supergoal inside two minutes helped complete the comeback bid, pushing Starfish FC across the finish in a 120-114 nail-biter over the St. Petersburg Swans in the 2018 Major League Footy Summer Premiership Season Championship Final.
Played in extreme heat – the game time ‘feels-like’ temperature was 108 F – the thriller saw explosive offense from the first-ball up, with the Swans eking out a 5-minute margin at the first break.
With Tom Mathew, Clint Jones and Austen Kugler asserting control of the midfield play in the second stanza, the ‘Fish capitalized on two 10-pointers in the frame to stake a 74-50 lead at the big break.
The third period return of Swans’ Queensland gun Ben McIntosh, forced to sit out the second quarter with an injury, reinvigorated a St. Petersburg attack.
Two McIntosh supergoals highlighted a 42-point outburst for St. Petersburg in the frame, but it was a pair of missed opportunities that would come back to haunt the Swans.
The first – a stalwart defensive stand that turned away a prolonged stretch of intense pressure directly in front of the Starfish goal – was eventually rerouted by Mathew and backliner Jeff Grubb.
A second stand again saw Mathew and Grubb turn away a golden opportunity for St. Petersburg to increase its lead in the quarter, resulting in a Speller major to keep the Starfish within striking range.
Beginning the fourth quarter up 92-85, the Swans maintained a furious attack, and seemed to put the proceedings to an end before McIntosh was forced to the sideline again with St. Petersburg in front, 103-88.
The last ten minutes would see points come in bunches, as both sides moved up and down the ground at will.
Jones’ supergoal from just outside the 40-yard line knotted the affair at 108 just inside two minutes, but the Swans quickly retaking the lead on a Kyle Roun major.
A Mathew major again leveled the score at 114 before Jones’ iced it with his second score in the game’s waning moments.
Having limped into the second half of the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season with a 1-4 mark, Starfish FC seemed more likely for the Spoon than the Flag.
A four-game win streak got them to the Preliminary, where they turned away a Tampa Bay Bombers side that stood at 6-2 going in.
It was their sixth win on the trot that mattered most.
And, as is often the case in any code of football, a key defensive stand – even in a match that saw the sides combine for 234 points – set the table for a Championship.
The ‘Fish can now take time to reflect on their run to the flag, but not for long – Starfish FC will meet the Swans in a rematch October 27, as Major League Footy pivots to an October-March regular season slate.
THE COMMON: HISTORIC VENUE FOR A HISTORIC FINAL
When the St. Petersburg Swans and StarfishFC take to the ground in this weekend’s 2018 Major League Footy Championship Final, it’ll mark much more than an Australian Rules Football match a world away from the sport’s origins.
It will mark a unique turn of history that befits the sport’s surging growth on Florida’s West Coast.
Nestled just two kilometers from the St. Petersburg CBD, the Common at Crescent Lake is one of the very few public grounds large enough to accommodate footy in Florida’s most densely populated county – and how it came to be is a story in early 20th Century ‘boom time’ thinking that serves to benefit footy players and supporters right to the present day.
Originally planned as a ‘tropical garden’, creating the Park demanded clearing a ‘jungle-like’ environment – including removing a considerable population of alligators, wild monkeys and the like.
In their wisdom, the civic leaders of the day decided the lake’s signature wildlife – migrating ducks, geese and swans – would remain.
While that bit of historical trivia obviously led to the city’s footy side taking the name of their South Melbourne/Sydney counterparts, it was the creation of two distinctly different sporting areas on opposite sides of the lake that would make this Saturday’s match possible.
On the southernmost end of the space, a baseball ground was constructed in the city’s ongoing effort to increase its viability as a Major League Baseball Spring Training location, and would see the historic field adjoining the lake become the Spring Home of the New York Yankees from 1925 until 1961, with breaks only for World War II.
The Yankees and New York Giants also ‘swapped’ training sites in 1951, with the Giants training in St. Petersburg, while the Yankees went west to Phoenix, Arizona for one season.
Crescent Lake Park also served as the Spring Training Home of the expansion New York Mets in 1962.
The rich sporting tradition of the park is not restricted to the South end of the ground, however.
With tennis courts nestled on the park’s southwest corner, it’s perhaps the most unusual providence that area north of the lake was deemed as a ‘Common’, large enough for ‘football, cricket or other games’ that bears significance this weekend.
Even as the Swans have used other grounds in the region for home games – most notably Largo Sports Complex north of St. Petersburg and Richard ‘Dick’ Turner Field Campbell Park (Four ‘N Twenty Field) – the club has continued to host weekly training sessions at Crescent Lake since 2014.
And, during the course of the 2018 season – one that saw 25 consecutive weeks of footy played in a schedule that begin in early April, Swans leadership saw the merit in Crescent Lake’s location and easily-adaptable configuration.
That resulted in the bulk of the Major League Footy regular season slate (with the exception of night matches) played on the big oval, albeit configured for the league’s 7-a-side game.
The journey of bringing footy to a Park built in 1925, and known for baseball – but also with at least a passing nod to cricket – and playing a Finals match a half-world away from Australia on the same day as the sport’s Grand Final is not only the culmination of the hard-work and dedication of footy players and supporters in Florida, it’s serendipity of sorts.
The St. Petersburg Swans vs Starfish FC, Saturday, 11 AM EDT
Crescent Lake Common, St. Petersburg, Florida.
SWANS-‘FISH CLASH IN MLF SUMMER FINAL
Twenty-five weeks of Major League Footy 2018 Premiership Season footy come down to a tangle between hometown sides this weekend, as the St. Petersburg Swans (7-3) take on Starfish FC (6-4) at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg.
Ball up is 11 AM EDT at the historic ground, just north of Downtown St. Pete.
While the Swans come into the match having survived a late-season scare of two consecutive dispiriting losses before righting their affairs in the Super Saturday Showdown Carnival two weeks ago, Starfish FC comes in at full-charge.
The original St. Petersburg footy club, Starfish FC began this season on a horrid 1-4 pace that saw them more likely to capture the Wooden Spoon.
Rattling off five straight wins – including a season-defining 91-55 victory over the Tampa Bay Bombers last weekend – clinched a berth for the ‘Fish.
The loss knocked an equally-tough Bombers side out of this weekend’s proceedings.
With the independent circuit of 7-a-side Australian Football about to formally transition to an October-March head-to-head season, Major League Footy will close the books on a third successful campaign, one marked by an unprecedented run of weekly head-to-head footy that began in April.
The 2018-’19 Major League Footy Prermiership Season will kick off with a rematch of this weekend’s opponents, as the Swans and Starfish will renew their nascent rivalry on October 27 in the Winter Season Opener.
IT FITS: MCINTOSH TAKES 2018 MLF SCORING CROWN
Queensland gun Ben McIntosh has romped to the 2018 Major League Footy scoring title, booting an impressive 68.10 on the campaign.
His 418 points is an MLF high-water mark that could stand for years.
Despite missing several weeks of the 24-week MLF regular season due to a trip home, McIntosh overcame Miami’s Neil Cohen – who also lit up the scoreboard in each of his contests – and never looked back.
Cohen (17.14.116), Aaron Crittenden (13.14.92) and Jason Blackbourn (12.6.78) round out the circuit’s top four scoring table for the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season.
A dominating 7.2 performance at the Super Saturday Showdown Carnival saw McIntosh hit from everywhere on the ground, helping the St. Petersburg Swans sweep matches against the Florida Lions and Miami Saints.
Those results saw St. Petersburg secure a spot in the Major League Footy Championship Final, Saturday, September 29.
The Swans will face the winner of today’s Preliminary Final between the Tampa Bay Bombers (6-2) and Starfish FC (5-4).
Ball up in Game One of the matinee twin-bill is 11 AM.
|CRITTENDEN, TAMPA BAY||13||14||92|
|BLACKBOURN, ST. PETE||12||6||78|
|LUMSDEN, ST. PETE||3||1||19|
HIGH-FLYING BOMBERS TO RUMBLE WITH ‘FISH IN PRELIM
In an MLF Preliminary Final where anything is possible, the red-hot Tampa Bay Bombers will take on an equally-surging Starfish FC side this Saturday, with the results determining which side will advance to play the St. Petersburg Swans in the Championship Final, September 29.
The Bombers (6-2, 24 points) parlayed a comeback win over the Swans to rise to the top of the table, only to be passed up with St. Petersburg’s sweep of last weekend’s season-defining Showdown Carnival.
Once in danger of taking the Wooden Spoon, the ‘Fish rallied late in the season to rip off four straight and improve to 5-4.
Showdown losses by the Florida Lions (4-4, 16 points) and Miami Saints (4-2, 16 points) allowed Starfish FC to clinch one of three MLF Finals berths.
In the circuit’s scheduling mix, late-season fixtures are ‘flexed’ to create playoff match-ups.
Qualifying sides play a minimum of ten games, while clubs no longer in contention play eight matches.
This weekend’s Major League Preliminary Final was secured after the Lions and Saints were mathematically eliminated from securing a berth in the three-team Finals seeding.
As MLF player lists coalesce in advance of the circuit’s transition to an October-March Premiership Season schedule, it’s expected that the rosters for the Finals will become permanent for the 2018-19 season.
MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTY PRELIMINARY FINAL:
TAMPA BAY BOMBERS (6-2) v. ST. PETERSBURG STARFISH FC (5-4)
Saturday, September 22 – Game One – 11 AM EDT
SHOWDOWN SHAKEOUT SETS PRELIM STAGE
On a day that began with five sides fighting for just three MLF finals berths, it’s probably no shock that a bit of chaos was the rule of the day.
The St. Petersburg Swans entered the Major League Footy Showdown Carnival as the early-season favorites on the fade; the youth-packed Florida Lions came in red-hot after four wins on the trot, and the Miami Saints looked like the circuit’s dominant side.
One day of footy changed all that, fast.
After Miami raced out to a big first half lead over the Lions in Game 1, it appeared the Saints would all but lock up a berth. A rally by a brave Lions side fell short, pushing Florida to 4-3 – and to the brink of elimination.
Game Two saw the Swans follow the Halos’ script, as St. Petersburg parlayed an overwhelming offensive start to turn the table on Miami en route to a rout, 75-19.
With both sides worn from the sweltering Florida heat, the focus shifted to how the Lions would stand up to the St. Petersburg point-scoring tandem of Aaron Crittenden and Ben McIntosh.
The answer wouldn’t come until the second half of Game 3, when the Swans overcome a sluggish start to clinch a Finals berth by virtue of a sweep of the series, knocking out both Miami and Florida in one sitting.
That course of events sees the table now set for this Saturday’s Major League Footy Preliminary Final, as the Tampa Bay Bombers (6-2, 24 points) will clash with Starfish FC (5-4), Saturday at 11 AM in St. Petersburg.
While the Swans’ berth in the Championship Final may be clinched, Saturday’s Prelim carries its own share of drama, as each of the contenders could settle in any one of the three seeds going into the Final.
At 5-4, Starfish FC has a slight advantage in playing 11 matches by way of a scheduling quirk. With a lead over the Swans in percentages, the ‘Fish can claim the top seed.
Likewise, a sweep of Saturday’s Preliminary double-header will vault the Bombers into the top seed.
A split between the Starfish and Bombers could see the Swans’ minor premiership stand up, although Tampa Bay holds a significant advantage on percentages.
Saturday’s Preliminary Final twin-bill is an 11 AM EDT ball-up in St. Petersburg.
SWANS ESCAPE LIONS, EARN SHOWDOWN SWEEP; 38-13
Seeking a sweep of the Major League Footy Showdown Carnival, the St. Petersburg Swans turned back a resilient Florida Lions squad, running out 5.8.38 – 2.1.13 winners to cap ‘Super Saturday’ in St. Pete.
Forced into the difficult slot of playing back-to-back matches on the day, St. Pete came out of the gate slowly in Game 3, having left a lot on the ground against a demanding Miami Saints side in the second match on the day.
With the Leos having time to recuperate after their Game 1 loss to Miami, both sides nibbled around the edges in an attempt to create opportunities inside 40s.
The first half ended with a sluggish 1.5.11 – 1.0.6 advantage for the hosting Swans.
Aaron Crittenden and Ben McIntosh came to life in the second half, turning excellent help from ruck Jason Blackbourn and newcomer John Waechter into points, as the home side would kick three quick strikes to open some distance over the fledgling Lions.
The 25-point final margin paints a somewhat deceptive picture of the affair, as the second half was as tense as the first.
The advantage eventually swung to St. Pete strictly by virtue of converting a string of late chances.
Played in extreme conditions, the three-match carnival concludes the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership head-to-head season, with the Swans snaring first place on the ladder at 7-3, 28 points.
The hard-fought result dropped the Lions to 4-4, 16 points, knocking Florida out of the MLF Finals race.
The second-seed Tampa Bay Bombers (6-2) will face #3 Starfish FC (5-4) in a twin-bill Preliminary Final, Saturday, September 22 for a chance to face the Swans in the Major League Footy 2018 Championship Final, Saturday, September 29.
MCINTOSH, BLACKBOURN LEAD SWANS PAST SAINTS; 75-19
Ben McIntosh and Jason Blakbourn lit the first fuse of an explosive Swans offensive performance, lifting St. Petersburg to a 188.8.131.52 – 3.1.19 torching of the Miami Saints in breathtaking Florida heat, Saturday in St. Pete.
Entering Game Two of the Major League Footy Showdown Carnival in need of at least one – and probably two – wins to save their once-promising season, the Swans were also still shaking off a 51-point defeat to the Saints in Ft. Lauderdale earlier this summer.
With the ‘Florida Derby’ between the cross-state rivals knotted one win apiece, St.
Petersburg wasted little time extracting revenge for their June 23 loss at Croissant Park.
Jumping out to 25-0 lead before the Saints were able to right their ship and establish an attack punctuated by the circuit’s Number 2 scorer Neil Cohen, the Swans took a 5.2.32 – 3.1.19 lead into the break.
While McIntosh, Blackbourn and forward Aaron Crittenden would continue to light up the scoreboard, a weary Saints side was kept off the ledger in the second half.
A McIntosh super goal punctuated a 184.108.40.206 – 0 second stanza that capped the rout for hosting St. Petersburg.
Battling a stomach ailment in the early going, McIntosh recovered quickly, adding to his monumental MLF Scoring lead.
The result pushed St. Pete to 6-3 entering the final match of the Showdown Carnival, with both the Swans and Florida Lions seeking a win to advance into the MLF Championship Finals.
Miami finishes the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season with a 4-2 mark. The Saints’ only two losses were to the Blackbourn-led Swans, as Miami defeated the Lions, Clearwater Kangas and Starfish FC on the year.
The Saints will look to regroup entering the 2018-19 Season.
After a break, the Saints will hit the ground again this Autumn.
COHEN, HECKER SPARK SAINTS OVER LIONS
Neil Cohen led the visiting Miami Saints to a convincing victory over the Florida Lions Saturday, as the Saints ran out 7.2.44 – 2.4.16 winners in Game One of the MLF Showdown Carnival in St. Petersburg.
With an electrifying start, the Saints jumped out to a 4.2.26 – 0.1.1 advantage at the break, with Cohen and fellow American footy veteran Tom Hecker leading a precision-based attack that pinned back the young Lions from the first tap.
The Lions were able to mount a counter-punch in the early going of the second frame, notching the first nine points in the half, before Miami regained their footing, returning to their devastating possession game.
Miami would score the final three majors of the match in securing the 28-point win. That win saw Miami improve to 4-1, entering a highly-anticipated Game Two clash with the St. Petersburg Swans.
In knocking off the Leos, the Saints secured a season sweep of the Lions, Clearwater Kangas and Starfish FC, with their only loss a 66-11 setback to the Swans in the MLF season opener, April 14 at Largo Sports Complex in Largo, Florida.
The Saints avenged that loss with a resounding rout of St. Petersburg, June 23 at Croissant Park in Ft. Lauderdale, a 100-49 Saints win.
The result dropped the Lions to 4-3 (16 points), seeing them needing a Game 3 win to stay alive in the hunt for an MLF Championship Finals berth.
The Lions, winners of four on the trot entering the Showdown Carnival, benefited from an injection of new talent taking the ground – a development that bodes well for the competition’s newest side.
1st PLACE BOMBERS WATCH & WAIT
While the Tampa Bay Bombers – at 6-2 and shock leaders on the MLF ladder – are not one of three sides competing in this weekend’s ‘Showdown Carnival’ in St. Petersburg, they’ll definitely be keenly watching the scoreboard.
Their season may depend on it.
Having rocketed to the top of the table – with a key come-from-behind win over the Swans punctuating their ascent – the Bombers have two key matches remaining of their own, and are not yet clear of the pack.
While a Swans sweep of the Lions and Saints this weekend would move St. Pete to 7-3, icing a berth for the Bloods, two Lions victories could prove more problematic for Tampa Bay.
With both the Bombers and Lions having two matches remaining after this weekend, a combination of Tampa Bay losses, Lions wins *and* at least one win from StarfishFC on the season’s last weekend (September 29) could force the Bombers out of the Finals.
For the Bombers, the scoreboard watch begins this weekend.
‘SHOWDOWN CARNIVAL’ RATCHETS UP PLAYOFF PRESSURE
The footy returns to historic Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg, as the St. Pete Swans (5-3) host a three-team ‘triple-header’ Showdown Carnival with the Florida Lions (4-2) and Miami Saints (3-1).
Game One (Lions v. Saints) is a 4 PM ball-up.
All three sides are in a race for one of only three berths in the Major League Footy Championship Finals, and today’s action should determine each side’s playoff fate.
Having dropped two straight, the Swans’ season hangs in the balance, as the club can potentially clinch a berth or be eliminated from the Finals, depending on today’s results.
Crescent Lake Park is the historic Spring Training home of the New York Yankees and New York Mets, and has served as the Swans’ training ground since 2014.
Although Rollbotto Oval at Crescent Lake Common can be configured as a traditional, full-sized footy oval, today’s matches will be played in Major League Footy regular season dimensions of 120 yards long x 60 yards wide.
Teams will be seven players on the ground, with three in interchange, and each game will be played as 2 x 10 minute halves.
This is the Saints’ second visit to Central Florida on the season, having split matches with Starfish FC and the Swans on April 14.
The Saints (3-1) won home matches in Ft. Lauderdale this season, trouncing both the Swans and the Clearwater Kangas at Croissant Park.
Saturday’s Game One will be the first match between the Lions and Saints.
MLF LADDER BATTLE IN HIGH GEAR FOR WEEK 23
A crowd at the the top of the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season ladder could see a bit of a clear-out this weekend.
With the Miami Saints visiting cross-state rivals the St. Petersburg Swans this Saturday, and the Florida Lions joining to make it a three-match carnival with playoff implications, all hands find their Finals hopes on the line.
For St. Petersburg (5-3) – losers of two straight after a scintillating start to the season – it’s essentially ‘win or go home’ for the 2018 MLF Finals.
With four games to go, the surging Lions stand at 4-2, and with a bit more breathing room.
The Lions finish their regular season with a twin-bill vs Starfish FC (5-4) on September 29 in a match-up that could decide a Finals spot for the Leos.
The Saints (3-1) may also end up on the outside looking in, due to their abbreviated season (a midsummer visit to Central Florida was cancelled, giving the Saints a harder chance at the Finals). Still, they can surely wreak havoc on the top of the table.
In previous match-ups this season, the Swans and Saints have both been big winners at home, with St. Pete taking a 66-11 win over Miami on April 14. The Halos returned the favor at Crossaint Park in Ft. Lauderdale, June 23 in a 51-point rout of their own.
With extreme conditions (temperatures nearing 100 F), expected this weekend in St. Petersburg, a high-stakes three-game set promises to tax everyone on the ground.
The club left standing will likely be able to punch their Finals ticket.
WITH 61.8, IT’S ALL EYES ON B-MAC
Ben McIntosh enters Week 23 action with a momentous lead in overall scoring (61.8.374) for the 2018 MLF Season, but there’s plenty of room for change in the Top 5 before the Finals begin.
Miami’s Neil Cohen (90 points) has a tenuous hold on the 2nd spot, with Aaron Crittenden charging close behind with 84 – and a solid shot to finish the season as the runner-up.
Usually a backliner due to superior on-ball skills, American footy veteran Kenneth Scheidt of the Swans’ has an outside shot to pass teammate Jason Blackbourn and Cohen for #3, providing he has opportunity over the final three weeks of the season.
With McIntosh, Crittenden and Scheidt all expected in the St. Petersburg line-up Saturday, odds are the goals will come in bags.
Saturday’s first match is a 4 PM ball-up when the Saints visit the Swans.
The Florida Lions (4-2) will also take part in the three-game Carnival at Rollbotto Oval at Crescent Lake Common.
|CRITTENDEN, TAMPA BAY||12||12||84|
|BLACKBOURN, ST. PETE||9||4||58|
|LUMSDEN, ST. PETE||3||1||19|
FLEX ALERT! LEOS ADDED TO SATURDAY SLATE
As the MLF run home hits full speed, the Florida Lions have been ‘flexed’ into this Saturday’s schedule.
The Lions will now face the Miami Saints and St. Petersburg Swans in a three-match ‘Footy Night In Florida’ carnival.
Under the MLF schedule flexibility guidelines, all sides in contention for one of three Finals berths after the conclusion of Week 22 play a level number (10) of matches.
Sides eliminated from the Finals see their schedules reduced to 8 Premiership matches.
The ‘flex’ schedule mechanism is designed to enhance each contending side’s playoff opportunity, and the Lions are the beneficiary of favorable results in MLF action in weeks 21 and 22.
With Starfish FC sweeping the Lakeland Tigers last Saturday in St. Petersburg, the Tigers – originally scheduled for ‘Footy Night In Florida’ – will now play one remaining match versus the Lions. That game will be played September 29.
The Suncoast Suns (1-6), Kangas (2-5) and Tigers (2-5) have been mathematically eliminated from securing a berth in the 2018 MLF Championship Finals, and the Lions benefit from the ‘flex’, as they gain two matches in their quest for the Finals.
STARFISH MAKE IT FOUR; RACE TIGHTENS
A late-summer surge has boosted a newly-relevant Starfish FC side into prime position in the run home of the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season.
Heading into the Labor Day holiday, the ‘Fish looked to be headed for the Wooden Spoon, mired with a 1-4 mark and the circuit’s second-worst percentages.
What a difference two weeks can make.
Those results effectively saw the scrappy Blue and Gold end the seasons of both opponents.
That run has seen them climb all the way to second on the ladder as the season heads into its final three weeks of head-to-head play.
In putting up 134 combined points Saturday against a brave Suns side, the Starfish also played a hand in the single-highest scoring day of the 2018 Major League Footy season, as Suncoast totaled 110 on a day the offenses reigned in sultry conditions.
With one final double-header to close out the season (September 29), the ‘Fish seemingly control their own destiny, although that battle with the Florida Lions (4-2, and also looking to seal a Finals berth) will be no cakewalk.
SUNS – STARFISH TANGLE IN WEEK 22
Suddenly-relevant Starfish FC (3-4) can jump into contention for one of three Finals berths with a repeat of last weekend’s success, when they take on the Suncoast Suns (1-4) in a twin-bill, Saturday in St. Petersburg.
With the 2018 Premiership Season well into the run home, Starfish FC leapt off the mat in sweeping the Lakeland Tigers, pushing past the heavily-favored Tiges in the process.
Now, as Major League Footy moves toward the launch of a newly-adapted October-March regular season schedule, sides are beginning to gel into fixed player lists.
Those lists will be finalized with the MLF Winter Player Draft, October 11, 2018.
Before then, the ‘Fish are also showing signs of gelling on the ground, as last week’s offensive outburst demonstrated.
MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTY WEEK 22: SUNCOAST v. ST. PETERSBURG STARFISH FC, Saturday, September 8 – Game 1 – 11 AM.
‘FISH TURN TIDE, TAME TIGERS
Previously languishing near the bottom of the table – and in danger of limping toward the Wooden Spoon – the ‘Fish (3-4, 12 points) dominated a Tigers (2-5, 8 points) team that entered the twin-bill with a seemingly superior list.
In blazing late summer conditions that felled no fewer than three players at various moments, the underdogs took Game One 9.3.57 – 1.2.23, then repeated the offensive outburst with a 7.5.47 – 220.127.116.11 romp in the second match.
As the Major League Footy 2018 Premiership Season run home now becomes a sprint, Starfish FC is now positioned to rally right into the thick of things, as a repeat of Saturday’s result this week vs a 1-4 Suncoast Suns side would pull the Blue and Gold to a 5-4 mark, and definitely into the Finals mix.
MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTY WEEK 22: Suncoast Suns v. St. Petersburg Starfish FC, Saturday, September 8, 11 AM.
SWANS – ‘FISH TO OPEN ’18-’19 CAMPAIGN
The first match in the Major League Footy 2018-19 Premiership Season will see cross-town rivals from St. Petersburg tangle in a 7 PM start, Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Largo Sports Complex.
With the independent competition officially adapting an Autumn – Spring regular season schedule, the circuit will field eight sides from around Florida, with each slated for an 8-game head-to-head schedule.
MLF ‘State of Origin’ sides representing Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia metro region will participate in friendly matches in Spring 2019.
The full Major League Footy 2018-19 Premiership Season fixtures will be released Tuesday, September 4, 2018.
TIGERS – STARFISH CLASH IN WEEK 21
In a weekend that celebrates the heroism of America’s men and women, both the Tigers and Starfish will be looking for a bit of heroics of their own.
At 2-3, the Tigers control their own destiny, as a sweep of the twin-bill could see them jump from fifth to third.
Conversely, the ‘Fish are mired in 7th at 1-4, and need to string wins together in September to have any shot at a finals berth. Even a split of the double-header will likely eliminate the Starfish from contention, and the Wooden Spoon continues to loom as threat.
HIGH-FLYING BOMBERS ROCKET INTO 1ST
For the first time in the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season, the St. Petersburg Swans are looking up at a new leader on the ladder.
Pacing the league through the first 20 weeks of the campaign, St. Pete suddenly finds itself dropped into second place after the Tampa Bay Bombers routed the Clearwater Kangas in both ends of a matinee twin-bill, Saturday, August 25.
That result moves the Bombers to 6-2 (24 points) with a one-game lead over St. Pete (5-3, 20 points) as the season heads into the run home.
In Saturday’s first match, Tampa Bay put on a convincing rout, posting a 18.104.22.168 – 4.3.27 trouncing in sultry conditions.
Game two saw Clearwater fall behind by 39 points, before finally managing to eke out a representative effort in the second half before falling 9.4.58 – 3.2.20.
With the Florida Lions (4-2) also closing in on the race for one of three Finals berths, the chase will only intensify from here on out.
LIONS DIM SUNS, CLIMB TO 3rd
Relentless pressure and supergoals from American Austen Kugler and Queensland gun Ben McIntosh pushed the Florida Lions to a 4-2 mark, and smack into the thick of things as the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season heads into the run home.
In searing Florida heat – the game-time ‘feels like’ temperature was a withering 103 F – the Lions put on an offensive show in Game One, crushing the Suncoast Suns 66-13 in the first match of an ‘AFLX clock’ double-header.
Each match was played in two ten-minute halves, with no time on.
With McIntosh leading the way, the high-flying Lions offense poured it on from the first ball-up, while the Suns (1-4) kicking cost the homestanders opportunities as well.
Game Two saw Suncoast open up an early lead, before wilting in the heat and succumbing to a 27-20 result.
The sweep moves the upstart Lions to 3rd on the table, even with the Tampa Bay Bombers at four wins and two losses, but trailing in percentages.
Tampa Bay can pull away and put some space between themselves and the Lions – and also have a chance to climb to the top of the table – next Saturday, as the Bombers clash with the Clearwater Kangas (2-2) next Saturday in St. Petersburg.
MLF TO ANNOUNCE 2018-19 SCHEDULE
As the 2018 summer schedule heads into the run home, Major League Footy – the independent competition of Australian football in the USA – will announce its 2018-19 Premiership Season schedule on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.
As Major League Footy transitions to annual Autumn – Spring Premiership Season schedule, the 2018-19 competition will begin Saturday, October 27, 2018, and will run through April 6, 2019.
The MLF playoff finals will take place April 13 and April 20, 2019.
The 2019 Major League Footy Championship Final will be held April 27, 2019.
Watch for the full fixtures and venues announcement – to be unveiled September 4, 2018.
SUNS LOOK TO SCORCH LEOS
With the dog days of summer officially in full swing, the Suncoast Suns (1-2) will be looking to heat up the run home in the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season when they host the Florida Lions (2-2), Saturday in St. Petersburg.
The Lions dropped both ends of a matinee double-header their last time out, a harsh result that prevented them from moving up into second on the MLF ladder.
This week, the Lions will need to come away with at least a split in the twin-bill to remain firmly in the chase.
The Suns, meanwhile, can jump four places to sixth with a sweep this weekend.
The recent run of inclement weather that has wrecked havoc on the final weeks of the season – forcing multiple reschedules – is expected to be calm (storm-wise), although the game-time temperature on the ground should exceed 100 F once again.
The Suncoast Suns host the Florida Lions, Saturday, August 18 at 11 AM in St. Petersburg.
WITH TWIN-BILL SWEEP, LIONS CAN ROAR INTO 2ND
The Florida Lions (2-0) can overtake the surging Tampa Bay Bombers, and stake their claim on the upper reaches of the Major League Footy ladder with a sweep of Saturday’s looming matinee clash with the Lakeland Tigers (0-3).
As the MLF run home heats up – the circuit’s unbalanced schedule format sees the Lions, Bombers, Suncoast Suns and St. Petersburg StarfishFC all have six matches remaining, while the ladder-leading St. Petersburg Swans hit the ground on only three more times.
That gives the Leos – the only undefeated side remaining in the competition – a real chance to soar all the way to the top, beginning this Saturday.
The Lions’ double-header with the cellar-dwelling Tigers will be played under ‘AFLX clock’ rules – each match will be played as two 20-minute halves.
As the Bombers learned last weekend in their own sweep of a matinee versus StarfishFC, even that abbreviated run-time can be difficult in Florida’s sultry mid-summer conditions.
With a convincing 61-17 win in the first game July 28, the Bombers were forced to trudge through a second game that began with extreme heat, only to be called official abruptly as lighting threatened. Tampa Bay won the second match of the day 20-6.
The Lions will be looking for the same result – if not the conditions – when they face off with the Tigers, Saturday, August 4 in St. Petersburg.
Game One is an 11 AM ball-up.
BOMBERS STRIKE ‘FISH, ROCKET UP LADDER
A blowout 9.7.61 – 2.5.17 win over Starfish FC Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida, has propelled the Tampa Bay Bombers to the second position on the 2018 Major League Footy Premiership Season ladder.
Winners now of three on the trot, the Bombers – paced by a stand-out performance from Aaron Crittenden – have now risen past the Miami Saints to take over sole possession of the second seed – at least for the moment.
With four games remaining in the run home, the Bombers will likely be in a fierce battle the rest of the way, as both the Florida Lions (2-0) and Miami (3-1) loom as threats to also make the MLF Finals – and possibly even upend the St. Petersburg Swans (5-3) at the top of the table.
In Saturday’s searing conditions in St. Pete – which saw the second match of the twin-bill truncated in a lightning-threatened 3.2.20 – 1.0.6 positive result for Tampa Bay – Crittenden posted a total of six majors and 3 behinds, to pace all scorers.
Major League Footy moves to Week 17 Saturday, as the Lions square off with the bottom-dwelling Lakeland Tigers (0-3) in a double-header that could see Tampa Bay’s quick rise up the ladder become short-lived indeed.
A Lions sweep of Saturday’s matinee would propel the Leos to 4-0, supplanting the Bombers’ quick rise.
LIONS ROAR INTO MLF; DIM SUNS
With supergoals in each of the two ‘AFLX clock’ matches, McIntosh powered the Lions on both ends of the twin-bill, as the Lions pulled away in the first game, on their way to running out 22.214.171.124 – 2.1.13 winners.
Both sides spent the first half of match one looking for an advantage, as Florida edged to a one goal lead at the break.
The second half was all Lions, as McIntosh and Jordan Calero took over the second frame and steamrolled to a 42-point win, earned by shutting out Suncoast in the stanza.
That narrative continued in Game 2, with the Lions racing out to a 31-point advantage before the Suns stormed back in the second half on the legs of Austen Kugler and Robbie Scallaro.
The Suncoast rally fell just short, however, as time ran out for a Lions 126.96.36.199 – 6.3.39 win.
The result moves Florida (2-0) all the way to third on the Major League Footy 2018 Premiership Season ladder. Suncoast falls to 1-2, dropping to eighth on the ladder.
Major League Footy Eastern Conference play moves to South Florida on Saturday, June 23, as the league-leading St. Petersburg Swans (5-1) travel to face #2 Miami Saints (2-1). The tangle figures to be a belter in a 2 pm ball-up at Croissant Park in Ft. Lauderdale.
WITH ASSIST FROM DONS, BOMBERS LAND IN TAMPA
Major League Footy is pleased to announce the addition of the Tampa Bay Bombers to the league’s 2018 Premiership Season competition, effective immediately.
The new Tampa-based side will take the ground in their first scheduled league match vs. the Suncoast Suns, Saturday, May 19.
Made possible by the support of the Essendon Bombers, who have graciously provided jumpers and other equipment to field the squad, the Bombers will be operated by Miro Gladovic.
Perhaps best known for his American Footy Star project, Gladovic has a long history with Essendon and the AFL, and is excited to field a side in Major League Footy.
‘The aim is to tightly integrated the storied Bombers tradition with Tampa’s long-standing history as home to MacDill Air Force Base, an important part of the Tampa Bay community’ says Gladovic.
‘We’ll take the ground in honor of both the Bombers identity and all of the service men and women at MacDill every time we play’ he added.
The headquarters of both the US Southern Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM), MacDill Air Force Base is home to a number of active-duty personnel from all NATO nations, including Australia and New Zealand, and is a critical economic and social component to the West Central Florida Region.
Adding a Tampa-based side will weave footy into the rich fabric of Tampa Bay sporting life, while honoring the men and women in service at MacDill Air Force Base.
Major League Footy is the independent league of Australian Rules Football in the United States. Games are played on gridiron (American) football grounds, and competition is based on head-to-head, rather than tournament play.
Major League Footy clubs are active and coming online in communities throughout the United States, with a particular focus on metropolitan areas in Florida for 2018.
Swans Dismantle Weary Saints, 66-11
St. Petersburg Swans assistant coach Matt Elliott set the ultimate example for his charges when he opened the season with three early majors, powering the Red and White to an emphatic 55-point win over the Miami Saints, Saturday at Largo Sports Complex in Largo, Florida.
The Melbourne native helped St. Pete storm out to a 19-2 lead – and the Bloods never looked back, running out 10.6.66 – 1.5.11 winners on a pitch-perfect spring evening in Florida.
After a dominant performance in their opening victory over Starfish FC , Miami’s energy level waned as the match wore on. Aussie natives Jason Blackbourn, Mark Lumsden and Chris Gilligan imposed their physical will on the Saints early and often.
The match looked decided at halftime, as St. Petersburg sprinted to a 32-9 lead at the break.
The second half featured impressive kicking skills by Blackbourn, who nearly scored on a field-length kick. In-bounding from his own goal area after a Miami behind, Blackbourn launched a massive attempt that landed just short of the Saints goal line and was eventually driven home by Pat Bilder for the crumb.
Lumsden, the fifth import in St. Pete’s lineup, also displayed massive kicking skills with a booming, no-doubt goal from the midfield stripe to close out the victory.
KLINGER IN ADVISORY ROLE TO MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTY
Major League Footy is pleased to announce the addition of Darrin Klinger as Special Advisor to the League.
Through business, politics and sports, Darrin has established key relationships between the U.S. and Australia.
Darrin travels to Australia regularly and works with a variety of sports interests including the Australian Rules Football Coaches Association, Melbourne Storm (NRL), Netball Victoria, and a number of Australian Football League teams, coaches, players and executives.
He is the founder of Australia – USA (AUSA) Connect, a network of thought leaders bridging opportunities through an exchange of ideas and business opportunities between two like-minded cultures. He is a member of the Australia America Association, AFL’s Geelong Cats Football Club. A massive tennis fan, Darrin has attended five straight Australian Opens.
MLF DEPLOYS AUSBALL FOR DEVELOPMENT
Major League Footy has announced an initiative to leverage the Ausball format of non-contact, co-ed footy in an effort to enhance the recruitment and growth of Australian Rules Football in MLF youth, scholastic and collegiate programs.
Ausball provides a fun, standardized environment for participants of all ages to discover our great sport, while developing footy skills and teamwork. These skills are essential, should players choose to continue to play at a higher level.
Under the guidance of Ausball orignators Denis Ryan and Matt Bishop, Ausball has long been a part of club footy in the United States, and Major League Footy is very proud to make Ausball part of our development, education and youth programs going forward.
The Ausball Academy website will re-launch soon, while MLF clubs in St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Los Angeles will immediately make the Ausball format part of their own clubs’ development efforts.
All MLF clubs will operate a league-wide Ausball program under standardize rules going forward.
Come have a kick!