It was another weekend of sunshine, footy, tunes, ice-cold beverages, and for the winners, a big fat cheque. Yep, the Byron Bay AFL 9s Invitational was another ripping success.
34 teams across five divisions from across the country descended on Byron Bay, with $4000 up for grabs for the winners of all senior competitions, and $1000 for the runners up.
The men’s final was an absolute thriller. Eshay Clan, in their third final in as many years was the early leader, but it was Shooting Blanks, made up of players from Robina, Griffith Moorooka and Park Ridge, who pinched it with the last kick of the day.
State pride was on the line in the Women’s, as the Burleigh Bombers from Queensland took on Once Were Warriors, who drove up from Sydney.
Despite the Warriors taking the chocolates in their last pool game, it was the Bombers who came good when it counted, getting over the line
The Masters field was chockablock this weekend, with a huge 14 teams entering, forcing two pools to be formed before they combined for finals.
Last year’s winner, the Ashy All Stars, made it an all Victorian affair in the final when they took on the Weeping Willows. Funnily enough, they play each other in the their local AFL9s competition back home.
The Willows were a class above this weekend though, going through undefeated. I have a feeling that plane ride home will be a very enjoyable one.
A special shout-out must go to Heroes and Villains, who went from one team in 2015, to two in 2016, and still managed to look the part.
It was back-to-back for the Slingers in the mixed competition, albeit under a different name, proving too good for the Western Dingo’s in the decider.
Tweed Tigers upset the locals, the Byron Bay Magpies in the Youth final to the tune of 20-points, but there was some unbelievable footy played across that whole division…. a few future stars, that’s for sure.
The celebrity spotters would have had a field day, with ex-AFL players Jude Bolton, Spida Everitt and Lenny Hayes, Aussie music legend Xavier Rudd, and former Neighbours star and Big Brother contestant, Blair McDonough, all pulling on the boots.
As always, the umpires did a ripping job across both days. It’s not easy in this heat backing up for game after game, so hats off to them.
So that brings a close to another Byron Bay AFL9s Invitational tournament. I have a feeling 2017 will be bigger and better again.
By Andrew Wiles