New era for Townsville & Darling Downs Football.

The evolution of sport governance will see a change to the way AFL Townsville and AFL Darling Downs are administered in 2020 and beyond. Both competitions spent season 2019 transitioning to a governance model that sees AFL Queensland operating both competitions into the future. AFL Mackay and AFL Capricornia successfully transitioned in 2019, whilst all South East Queensland junior and senior competitions adopted the model some time ago.

The change alleviates the burden on volunteers to govern the competitions and in some cases has resulted in those volunteering at a League level returning to volunteer at their local club. The changes have also resulted in cost efficiencies which have allowed clubs to benefit financially.

Leading into the governance change, AFL Queensland supported the volunteer Boards in both Townsville and the Darling Downs in managing the day to day operations of their competitions through the funding and engagement of a full time Competition & Club Development Manager. The governance change process involved extensive stakeholder consultation and the unified support of all member clubs in each region.

Under the new structure the competitions will be fully governed by AFL Queensland, however, they will be supported locally by an Advisory Board. As the local area experts, the Advisory Board’s role is to provide strategic advice and support to AFL Queensland ensuring the growth and sustainability of the game in the region. Similarly, they will also share their skills and experiences to assist the local Competition Manager. Each Board Member will have a designated portfolio aligned to their skill set, and specific to the needs of the region as identified by the member clubs.

The Townsville Board will be chaired by The Ville Resort-Casino CEO, Michael Jones, who has a significant level of experience in the game at various levels. Prior to moving to Townsville, Mr Jones was General Manager at Mackay’s Harrup Park, where he worked closely with AFL Queensland staff on the delivery of elite AFL content. Joining Mr Jones on the board will be Cr. Verena Coombe, Peter McClennan, Ryan Friend, Craig Canning and Bek Barr, all of whom have an affinity with the game locally.  

AFL Queensland’s State Manager – Senior Football, Barry Gibson, said AFL Qld was buoyed by the quality of the people on the new Board.

“We are delighted with the skills and expertise of this group of people”, Mr Gibson said.

“They are passionate about our game and have generously volunteered their time to ensure it remains vibrant and entrenched in the local sporting landscape.

“Having someone of Michael’s ilk leading the group is a coup for the region and we have no doubt the Board will have a positive impact in not only shaping the game in the region but ensuring our code is connected with the local community at all levels”, Mr Gibson added.

The Darling Downs Board will be led by local businessman Charlie Aston. Mr Aston is the Owner/Operator of the Rangeville Bank of Queensland branch and has a long history with Darling Downs football that includes coaching at club and representative level. Joining him on the Board will be Andrew Foley, Cr. James O’Shea, Dimity Sullivan and Andrew McDonagh.

“Due to the geographical location of clubs, the Darling Downs region is a challenging one for our game in terms of community competitions, however under Charlie’s guidance we are confident that the experience within the Advisory Board can provide a genuine insight into the region’s challenges and help guide us in how we take the game forward”, Mr Gibson said.

Both Advisory Boards are scheduled to meet for the first time in the coming weeks, with the Townsville meeting on December the 2nd and Darling Downs on December 11th.  


Advisory Board Portfolios


Chair – Charlie Aston

Community Engagement – Cr James O’Shea

Events & Marketing – Andrew Foley

Indigenous and Diversity – Andrew McDonagh

Partnerships – Dimity Sullivan



Chair – Michael Jones                 

Partnerships – Peter McClennan             

Events & Marketing – Bek Bar                          

Media & Community Engagement – Cr. Verena Coombe         

Infrastructure – Craig Canning                 

Indigenous & Diversity – Ryan Friend                     

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