Category Archives: Football

Five Classic AFL Grand Finals in History

Collaboration with Oddschecker

 

More than 5 million viewers are expected to tune in for Saturday’s AFL Grand Final and it promises to be a thriller, pitting the formidable Storm against plucky underdogs the Cowboys. Neutrals will be hoping for a classic, full of excitement and intrigue, but it will have to be special to break into the five greatest AFL Grand Finals of all time. Here we run through the greatest finals since the AFL was inaugurated in 1990, when it succeeded the VFL, and they will all go down in history as magnificent sporting contests that captivated the nation:

  1. St Kilda vs Collingwood, 2010

If you were to name the greatest Grand Final in the 140-year history of the VFL and AFL, it would have to go to the 1996 bout between these two sides. St Kila defeated Collingwood in an absolute nail-biter in front of 102,055 fans at the MCG, sneaking home by one point after dazzling heroics by both sides. But they also played out a cracking contest in the AFL era, back in 2010, when it ended in a draw. It was the only final since the AFL began to end in a tie, and no final will ever finish in a draw again thanks to new extra-time rules. It is always an anti-climax when a big game ends in a draw, but the 2010 final will go down as a cracker thanks to St Kilda’s remarkable comeback. They trailed by 24 points at half-time and eight at three-quarter time, but were resurgent and eventually took an astonishing lead with a goal from Brendan Goddard. But they suffered heartbreak as a long kick from Lenny Hayes bounced awkwardly past Stephen Milne to level the scores in the final minute. Collingwood went on to thrash Saints in the replay, but fans will long remember the first game.

  1. Brisbane vs Collingwood, 2002

This was an enthralling game played out by two tough teams as heavy rain lashed down on the MCG. Collingwood were in their first final since 1994 and were not given much of a chance after finishing fourth in the ladder and overcoming the odds to beat Port Adelaide and Adelaide and set up a showdown with the defending champions, the Brisbane Lions. Collingwood were expected to succumb to a one-sided defeat, but they battled bravely throughout a marvellous back and forth spectacle as the teams traded goals and points with great regularity. The margin fluctuated between three, four and five points throughout the game, but a late goal from Jason Akermanis gave the Lions a nine-point margin and secured victory. They went on to become AFL premiers for three seasons in a row, but this was their greatest victory, in a tense, high-pressured game of wet-weather football.

  1. Hawthorn vs Sydney, 2012

Head over to Oddschecker for the odds for the 2017 Grand Final and you will see that the Storm are the heavy favourites to beat the Cowboys, but the underdogs can take heart from the 2012 final. Hawthorn went into this game as overwhelming favourites, but were undone by a spirited Sydney team. It started perfectly for Hawthorn, who opened up a 19-point lead at quarter-time and looked to be cruising to victory. But the Swans rallied to devastating effect in the second quarter as Mitch Morgan, Lance Franklin and Clinton Young turned a 19-point deficit into a 16-point lead at half-time. Then it was Hawthorn’s turn to emerge resurgent after the break in this remarkably open final. By the end of the third quarter they had reduced the deficit to just a single point, and at one point in the final quarter they were in front by 12 points. But inaccuracy hit them hard and Sydney banged in the final four goals of the game to secure a 10-point victory in an exhilarating contest decided by a final minute snap from Nick Malceski.

  1. Sydney vs West Coast, 2005

This was not one of the highest-scoring finals, but it deserves its status as a modern classic thanks to the superb defending exhibited by both teams in a really close contest. It was an intense tactical battle, reminiscent of a game of chess, and a great final for the purists. There were near misses, drama and intrigue aplenty as the game ebbed and flowed and the lead changed hands consistently. Sydney were the better team in the first half and went into the break with a 20-point lead, but West Coast were resurgent in the third quarter and got off to a flying start in the final quarter to move ahead by 10 points. However, Sydney scraped back into the lead and were clinging on for dear life in the final seconds as West Coast sent a long kick back to the half forward line by. Leo Barry was the hero as he took a spectacular mark in the middle of a pack of Eagles players. It ended a 72-year drought for the Swans and Barry would forever be famous for the move that caught the cup.

  1. West Coast vs Sydney, 2006

These two were at it again the following year and this Grand Final was the greatest battle we have seen in the AFL era. West Coast got their revenge by beating Sydney in the most nail-biting fashion imaginable, sneaking victory by a single point, 12.13.85 to 12.12.84, in a match that had everything you could wish for from a Grand Final. It was a higher-scoring and more exciting game than the previous year, but it had a similarly thrilling ebb and flow to it. The Eagles were by far the better team at the start and led by 25 points at half-time, but they would have been kicking themselves for failing to turn their dominance into an even greater margin, especially when Sydney clawed their way back into it in the third quarter. There were just 11 points in it going into the final quarter and Adam Goodes set the tone by scoring after just 11 seconds. Thereafter it was goal for goal until the end of the match in a wonderful display of end-to-end football where all caution was thrown to the wind. The Eagles’ lead fluctuated between one and seven points throughout, and stood at just one point in the final seconds, with West Coast desperately defending, and they held out to secure a famous victory in the most intense final quarter ever seen.

 

Author bio

Martin Green is an experienced sports writer and has been covering the AFL for many years.

The Ins and Outs of Aussie Rules Football

 

Anyone going to Australia will soon learn about one of its favourite sports, Australian rules football. Despite its informal sounding name, it’s a serious sport with an established domestic league in place. You’ll see it regularly being broadcast on Australian television, and there are also Aussie Rules clubs in the UK and the US. 

A Brief History

Today, this mix of Gaelic football and football draws crowds up to 50,000. It caused players to become national heroes.

The game initially started in the late 1800s as cricketers grew bored with the long off-season in Melbourne. In response, they developed Aussie Rules football to keep themselves entertained and it quickly grew in prominence

The first recorded game of ‘Footie’ was in 1858 when Scotch College met the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. Composite rules were used to make it distinct from other rugby type games.

The Victoria Football Association evolved in 1877. With it came original football clubs like Melbourne, Hotham, Albert Park, Geelong, and St Kilda. The Victorian Football League (VFL) followed in 1896. Eventually, this would evolve into the Australian Football League, or AFL.

To reflect the game’s illustrious history, the official home of the sport is Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Rules

Aussie rules football takes place on any Australian football ground or a modified cricket field. Two teams of 18 players take part in the game.

The main objective is to move the ball to the opposite team’s side of the field and kick it through their goal. You score six points by kicking the ball through the two goal posts. The highest score wins the game.

The ball remains in dispute at all times. Players can tackle with their hands and obstruct players with their bodies. They can go anywhere on the field and move the ball with any part of their hands; although there are rules on how they can handle the ball. Throwing and holding the ball isn’t allowed.

There are free kicks awarded for fouls. The mark is the most distinctive feature. Referees award possession of the ball to the team which catches a ball from a kick.

Football Season

The main football season, as organised by the AFL, lasts from March until September. Straight after the season ends, the cricket season begins. In the tropics, sometimes there are games during the wet season; from October to March. Pre-season games also occur in late February.

Popularity 

There’s no denying how popular Aussie rules football has become. It’s rich in culture and history and is now an integral part of the Australian conscious.

It’s more popular than any other type of football code. It’s consistently ranked as the top winter sport, according to the Sweeney Sports report. In the summer, it’s the third most popular sport; behind cricket and swimming.

It’s also caused a large upsurge in sports betting on the games and players. The most popular sports betting sites in the world (as ranked in online-betting.org) have all opened betting for the sport, and even running promotions due to its expanding online fanbase.

In 2006, there were over 615,549 registered players. And the Australian Sports Commission said between 2001-2010 there was a 64 per cent increase in the number of players. 30 countries around the world now play the game.

It also gains the title as the most followed spectator sport. In 2007, over seven million people attended a game in person. In 2016, the AFL Grand Final was the most-watched broadcast in Australia, with an at-home audience of 6.5 million spectators.

Prepping for a Football Game: Flipping the Field

 

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With football season in full swing, many fans have prepped for the season by joining a fantasy football league. Others might’ve planned parties with friends and family to watch their favorite teams take the field on game days. There’s also a lot of people who make plans for tailgating and enjoy the games live in person. While you may have thought to plan ahead on what you’re going to bring to your friend’s house for the big game, have you ever thought of all of the planning and prepping that goes into getting the field and stadium ready for game day?

There’s a lot that goes into getting the gridiron ready before kickoff, especially if the field is shared between multiple teams. There are 13 NFL teams that still share their football stadiums, and this infographic from Equipsupply shows the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to prep football fields for game day.

How to Flip A Football Field

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Staying Physically Fit for Football Games

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It is not easy being a football player. You need to balance your social life, family life and your time to practice the game. Those who have succeeded in their games would not have reached where they are now if not for their hard work and dedication. It means that anyone can do well in the game. You just have to set your eyes on the top prize and make sure you do whatever it takes to win the game.

Constant practice

There is no skill in football that you can’t learn if you keep practicing. It is important that you place your focus on each skill that you wish to be great at. Once you have mastered a skill, then you can move on to another skill. You don’t give up just because you feel like you can’t master certain skills. You have to keep trying and trying. You can even invite your teammates to help you out. Being great in the game requires constant practice and being on the field most of the time.

Hitting the gym

The thing about playing football is that it requires body strength, from top to bottom, even if you are mostly using your feet. It helps a lot if you also hit the gym to build your upper body strength. You constantly use your feet during the actual game, but it is at the gym where you can build your upper body strength and even do some cardio to help you with breathing and proper blood flow. This can be done once or twice a week. It doesn’t really matter how often you hit the gym. The most important thing is that once you are there, you focus on the parts of your body that need enhancement.

Time to relax

Aside from being physically prepared, it also helps if you are mentally focused for the game. This is where rest and relaxation come in. You have to make sure that you are fully relaxed after practicing. This helps a lot so that you will be in a good mood for your next game.

Playing games online is one of the best ways for you to stay relaxed. You can play slot machines, virtual soccer games or poker if you wish to do so. These are competitive online games that will also help motivate you to set your eyes on the prize. At the same time, these games help make you feel relaxed. Once you are done playing, it is as if you have not spent an entire day on the field.

Using all these techniques will surely give you a clear path towards victory in football.

A Beginner’s Guide to FUT ’16

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Credit – Visual Hunt

In the aftermath of Christmas, it’s quite likely that many of you were treated to the latest edition of FIFA. If you’re a returning player, you’ll know that one of the best features in the series is Ultimate Team. It keeps players coming back to the mode time and time again, even when other parts of the game are lacking. You can have endless fun both on and offline as you build your dream squad and take on the computer or other real players. What’s not to love?

As always with new releases, there are a few changes to the game mode with this year’s edition. There’s even an entirely new feature that has been drafted in (see what I did there?). That’s why we’ve compiled this guide so that you, too, can master the most popular game mode in the FIFA series.

It’s a good idea to keep up to date on changes to the game mode. You can find all the latest info for FIFA 16 Ultimate Team online.

Squad Building

The very nature of the FUT mode means that you build your own squad. Though, don’t think for a second that your opportunities are limitless! For sure, you can fill your team with the biggest names in world football, but they won’t gel like a proper team. FUT uses a chemistry rating to determine how your team gels together. Players from the same team, league, or nation will play better in unison. You can boost chemistry by drafting in a manager, or with special chemistry boosters.

The Draft

The draft mode is the new feature in this year’s Ultimate Team, and it’s picking up some major plaudits for its innovation. It works much in the same way as the regular game mode, but the rewards are far more lucrative. So much so, that you need to buy or earn tokens to compete. The prizes for going unbeaten throughout the tournament, though, are unparalleled. You start by choosing a captain, and then have to build your team to maximum chemistry with the options offered to you. Easier said than done.

Understanding Items

Like any trading card game (which is what FUT is, in essence), there are a number of boosters to acquire. These can range from healing items for your injured players, to manager cards to boost your team’s chemistry. A new addition to FUT in 2015/16 is the addition of loan players. Now, if you’re struggling for coins and in a position of need, you can use your EA points to purchase loan players. You can find these in the catalogue, but be warned; they will disappear from your squad after their game time has been reached.

Transfer Market

Just like in real life, transfers are a big part of football in FIFA Ultimate Team. The way it works in the game is a lot like the stock market in real life. You put your players up for auction and they go to the highest bidder. Concept squads are a great way of planning for teams with maximum chemistry. You can put in some predetermined factors, such as an all-Serie A team, and the computer will generate the best players in each position. Then, you can quickly go into the transfer market and buy the players you need. Easy!

Everything You’ll Need To Mimic Your Favourite Football Stars

We watch football on the television and we love to look up to our favourite stars. The likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning continue to inspire generations of youngsters. So, if you’re looking for ways to mimic them and be like them you need to follow this guide. Trying to emulate the big stars of today can help to turn you into a star of the future. Check out these ideas you can use to help you mimic your favourite football stars.

Understand the Game

The first thing you need to do is to get to grips with the basics of the game. This means you’ve got to understand the rules, tactics and plays prevalent in modern football. It is a complex and strategic game, so you need to be dedicated, and take the time to learn. The better an understanding you have of the game, the better you can play it. So, take this opportunity to brush up, study the rules and process how to excel in this popular sport.

Own the Gear

After you get to grips with the basics of the sport, you need to make sure you have all the correct gear. You can’t play football if you don’t make sure you have all the stuff with you. Can you imagine Richard Sherman running out for the Seahawks without the right gear?!  You need to make sure you gear up this football season with new cleats, a helmet and pads. Having the right stuff is important for learning to play the sports, but it’s essential for health and safety as well. So don’t overlook this aspect, or try to cut corners.

Watch Lots of NFL

Mimicking your favourite stars means watching and analysing the way that they play. And to do this you need to make sure you watch lots of NFL games. Nobody knows what to expect out of this year’s NFL so you need to make sure you watch as many games as possible. This way you can see how your icons perform, and whether they have any new plays they are working on. This is the best way to get up to speed with how players play, and pick up anything you can try out.

Join a Team

So, now you’re ready to take what you’ve learnt and observed and put it into practice. You’re ready to join a team and start playing football. Now, take a look at your local area, as there will most likely be a team you can sign up for. If there isn’t, why not think about starting a team yourself? There are bound to be some interested parties in your area. It’s a great way to bond with others over a mutual appreciation of the sport, and it’s very sociable.

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As you can see, there is plenty you can do if you want to mimic your favourite football stars. You’re going to need to be disciplined and dedicated in order to do so. But, if you can follow this advice, you’ll go a long way toward being able to achieve exactly what you want.

 

How To Train Like A Professional Footballer

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When it comes to sport, footballers are among the fittest in the industry. Of course, every professional athlete is incredibly fit because that is part of the deal. But, footballers tend to expend more energy as the sport is constantly moving. In basic terms, they don’t stop running for ninety minutes. If you want to get in the best possible shape for the upcoming season, you should train like the pros. To do that, you have to follow some mandatory requirements.

Set Specific Goals

What position do you play? What do you want to achieve on the pitch? These are basic questions that you have to answer to get in the best possible shape. Everyone on the pitch needs to go for the full hour and a half, but not every player does the same thing. For example, if you are a goal scorer you will want to score as many goals as possible. But, if you are a midfielder you need to assist the forward line and cover the defence.

Create Specific Training Regimes

You are a football player, so don’t train like you play cricket or rugby. Even though there might be transferrable elements, most of them won’t make a difference. For example, as a footballer you do a lot of anaerobic activities, like short, sharp bursts of energy. So, sprint training is a great way to gain the fitness you need. It is pointless getting fit if it doesn’t transfer to the field.

Mix It Up

Once you have discovered your training foundation, you can complement it with other techniques. Remember that you need strength and power on the field as well as the ability to go the time limit. So, think about lifting weights or doing Yoga to offset your regular program. Weights and Yoga will improve your core strength and make training less boring.

Train At High Intensity

Although professionals have tips and tricks that get them into shape, they do train at an incredibly high rate. For all the advice out there to get fit, no advice is better than training as hard as you can for a specified time. High-intensity training prepares your cardiovascular system to deal with more, so it is not found wanting on the pitch. The more you overload, the more resistance you will have to fatigue and tiredness.

Eat & Drink Well

Professionals treat their body like a temple. For the layman, that is hard because your career doesn’t revolve around your body. It would be a lot easier to resist temptation if Manchester United paid you £100,000 a week. But, your body needs the right nutrients when you expend energy to replace it and power your body’s systems. That means cutting out the junk food and replacing it with a well-balanced diet. To maximise your diet, you need to eat at certain times of the day as well.

Cool Down

You need to recover after a long sessions and the best way is a cool down. It can range from a sports massage to an ice bath. It doesn’t matter as long as your body repays its oxygen debt and repairs the tears in the muscles.

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The above are just a few examples of how the professionals get in shape for the season ahead. Even if you don’t play at the highest level, it is always a good idea to be as fit as possible. Fitness is the great equaliser in sport.

 

What Do You Need To Set Up An Amateur Soccer Team?

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Soccer, or football as it is known colloquially, couldn’t be more popular. Over two-thirds of the world’s countries have a professional football league and a national team. Plus, the World Cup is broadcast to several billion people each year, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are among two of the most recognisable people on the planet earning nearly nineteen million Euros a year. It is no wonder you want to get involved in football! Regardless of the popularity of the world game, the harsh reality for a lot of people is that there isn’t a local team for them to play for, especially after the age of sixteen. Everyone should have the right to play, so check out what you need to set up an amateur football team.

Advertise Your Team

It is hard work to get the ball rolling, but there are likeminded people like you out there so persevere. You need to make people aware that you are setting up a team and need players to play. Get on social media for the best impact. You can put up a general advertisement on a Facebook page or direct message people to see if they are interested. Or, if you want to go old school, have a few flyers printed and put them up around town.

One great alternative to find players is to ask youth teams that are finishing if anyone fancies joining your team. These kids have played together for a long time, plus there are bound to be a few gems that will increase the standard.

Backroom Staff

You can’t organise everything on your own so you’ll need a number two. Someone who is willing to be the club secretary is worth their weight in gold. There are bank accounts to set up, pitches to find and maintain and regulations you to abide. These are just a few of the details.

Start Training

Once the team is formed, get into shape. Football is a particularly strenuous sport so if you are not in shape you will struggle. Remember that you are going to be constantly on the move for ninety minutes and there is going to be a lot of sprinting. Regardless of your skill, your fitness levels can elevate your team up another level. So, while you are getting to know another, getting fit is a great way to beat teams in your league.

Find A League

Don’t just jump into any league; find one that is at your level. Understand what the skill set of your team is and then pick the league that reflects it. Once you are in a league, you can build and grow into a better team.

Have An End Of Season Party

You should enjoy and celebrate your first season, whatever the result. A big night out for all the players and the team is a great way to bond, but it is also a great way to recognise the players who have performed well. All you need to do is book a local venue and get hold of a few awards to give away. If you are struggling to find affordable honours, a company like Premier Trophies can supply them.

Once you have set up your team, you will never look back. Playing football is one of the most enjoyable pastimes around.

The Best Football Teams Of 2015

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Anyone who follows football will be feeling excited at the moment about what the remainder of 2015 might hold for their favourite team. We saw some pretty shocking and unexpected results last year, so the winning teams might surprise us towards the end of the season. Today, we’re going to draw your attention towards some of the best squads of 2015 in the hope of giving you an idea of who to watch.

We’re about to find out who will win this year’s UEFA Champions League, but who will win be Premier League? That remains to be seen. The only thing we know for certain is the teams listed below are serious contenders. So, put your personal preferences aside for one moment and let’s take a look at the most promising clubs around today.

Manchester United

Ever since Alex Ferguson left Manchester United, the team has been in a state of grief. For whatever reason, the games following his departure provided an insight into the effect he was having on the team. Last season saw poor result after poor result. However, things are now changing, and many experts believe Manchester United is back on form. Can we expect to see them winning the Premier League this year? The bookies seem to think so, and that is why the odds are pretty high on all major sites.

Liverpool FC

The Liverpool team has not been the same since their 1900s heyday. However, they are showing some very encouraging signs this year, and so they make it onto our list. People were concerned when they lost Jon Flanagan, but it seems the team are making strides once again. They still need to purchase some new goalscorers before the end of the transfer window this summer. If they get it right, it is entirely possible they could come back strong and take the cup.

Chelsea

Established ticketing website ticket4football sold more Chelsea tickets last year than ever before. Maybe that is a sign the fans are back behind this squad? It’s been a few years since Chelsea was considered a major threat, but all industry insiders predict they will make waves this season. The Japanese international player Yoshinori Muto might have rejected a move to the club this season, but we’re still expecting them to get some good new players on the team.

As you can see, there are three teams you might like to watch this summer. While Barcelona and Real Madrid are serious contenders, we don’t expect them to perform quite as well as they have over the last few seasons. It is now time for UK clubs to hit the limelight again, and we can’t wait to find out how things go down.

Keep checking back here if you want to find out about how the teams perform as the season progresses. We’ll publish updates and news from all the latest matches and events. At the end of the day, lots of UK teams have had a hard time over the last couple of years. However, the tables are starting to turn at the current time.

 

Who Will Win This Year’s UEFA Champions League?

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At this time of year we can all look forward to some cracking football games. In particular, this year’s UEFA Champions League is really exciting but who will win it? At the time of writing we still have the second leg of the semi finals and the final to look forward to.

Semi Final 1:  Juventus vs Real Madrid

This semi final is perfectly poised for an exciting second leg in Spain. The Italians have a narrow 2-1 lead but who would bet against the power of Real Madrid at home?  Gareth Bale disappointed in the first leg but Cristiano Ronaldo scored yet another goal, taking his tally for the season to another incredible new level. In all, he has scored 54 for Real Madrid this season so far and recently scored 5 in a single La Liga game. This goal also meant that he slipped ahead of Lionel Messi again in the all time Champions League scorers list. The Spanish team are probably favourites but it has to be said that Juventus have a great recent European record and looked excellent in the first leg. Perhaps the eventual outcome will depend upon whether a few of the big Real Madrid stars all have a good night or whether the Juventus organisation and team ethic makes the difference. Of course, the Italians can also count on highly skilful players such as Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo.

Semi Final 2:  Barcelona vs Bayern Munich

On paper this semi final looks just clearer after the Spanish giants won 3-0 at home. However, the strength of the German champions is such that few people are taking the overall result for granted. The first leg way of such high quality and so interesting that the return leg in Germany is already highly anticipated among fans. The first game is one that will live long in the memory. Especially memorable was the contribution of Lionel Messi. His second goal was one of the finest from this year’s Champions League. It also edged him ahead of Ronaldo again in the Champions League scorers list, with 77 in the 100th European game. It will be fascinating to see if the Germans can make a remarkable comeback or if the classy Barcelona front line will cause them more damage.

The Final

So who can we expect to see play together in the final? Right now it seems possible that we could see another all-Spanish affair, after Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid battled it out last season. Certainly, this would give us the pleasure of seeing Messi and Ronaldo go head to head in the biggest game of the season. It could be one of the most exciting personal duels of all time, as both appear to be so far ahead of other players at this time but keep pushing each other to new levels of greatness. It is also possible that the Bayern team packed full of World Cup winners makes it to the final and that they add more medals to their collection. Juventus are perhaps the outsiders just now but the newly crowned Italian champions have some great players and are playing with a great deal of confidence. Whoever gets to the final, it is sure to be a fantastic occasion. If you want to get involved then you can check out the latest football odds at http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb.