“It’s so much fun”: Byron Bay AFL9s Invitational Recap

By Ant Wingard

After bitter disappointment in 2017, the Super Kings Max produced the upset of the the Byron Bay AFL 9s Invitational to overthrow a star-studded Southern Comfort side and clinch the top prize over the weekend.

Having lost to Southern Comfort in the same game one year ago, The Super Kings Max, who hail from Coorparoo in Brisbane, earned retribution and claimed the $4000 in the Masters Max division on Saturday afternoon.

The two sides fought their way into the Grand Final but it was the Super Kings Max, who booted an unprecedented run of majors to open the game, who tasted the ultimate success.

Their Grand Final victory was even more sweeter given the opposition fielded a team including premiership player Steve Johnson.

The Masters Max division wasn’t the only Grand Final to feature two sides who recommenced rivalries for the second year running either.

In the Mixed Max division, the All State Tigers claimed their second straight Grand Final triumph to win the $4000 prize money over familiar foes and AFL 9s powerhouse GC Slingers, who were the footnote on the Tigers’ win once again.

Meanwhile, New South Wales team Pittwater Phantoms swept the Masters Mellow division to claim the $2000 prize money.

Across the weekend, 29 teams from all over the country took to the field across three divisions at Byron Bay’s Cavanbah Centre.

In picturesque conditions, the two-day event was heralded a rousing success both on and off the field.

The Eximm players tent provided the perfect backdrop to the carnival and provided players shade, live music a bar and swimming pools to relax between games.

This year’s event also heralded the first time AFL Queensland had supplied experienced umpires, most of whom have been involved in the State Umpiring Academy, to officiate games.

The weekend’s festivities culminated in an AFL9s celebrity game which featured former AFL players Jude Bolton and Spida Everitt, AFLW player Jordan Membrey, some of the best players from across the weekend’s play and even a handful of the umpiring contingent.

Bolton, who helped launch the Byron Bay AFL9s Invitational back in 2014, said 2018’s instalment was a great success.

“I’ve been here since its infancy and now it’s just so seamless and such a quality event. People are having so much fun and it’s all centred around our great game which is what I love and what I’m really passionate about,” Bolton told aflq.com.au.

“I’ve seen in New South Wales particularly where AFL9s is people’s first foray into footy. People have the chance to come back and relive what they love. It’s so much fun.”

AFL Queensland Schools and AFL9s Programs Coordinator Kat Julius said the weekend was a huge success.

“With a record number of teams at this year’s Invitational, it was fantastic to see so many of them were returning teams who came to Byron Bay for a fantastic weekend of footy and fun.”

“The Byron Bay AFL9s Invitational was sponsored by Eximm Australia,  All Sports Travel and Budgy Smuggler and we thank all of them for the ongoing support.”

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