Australian rules football in Scotland

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Australian rules football in Scotland
Governing bodyScottish Australian Rules Football League
National team(s) Scotland

Australian rules football is played by a five-team league in Scotland, with clubs in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Kirkcaldy, Falkirk and Edinburgh. The current Premiers are the Greater Glasgow Giants.

Australian rules football Contact sport invented in Melbourne

Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, or simply called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts or between behind posts.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.


Early history

There are rumours of a competition near the River Clyde during the early 20th Century, famously referred to in A Game of their Own, where a number of expatriate Australians were based in Scotland either as Ship Workers or Soldiers. Had this league existed, and there is no proof it ever did, then it had died out around the time of the First World War.

River Clyde river in Scotland

The River Clyde is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland. Traveling through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. To the Romans, it was Clota, and in the early medieval Cumbric language, it was known as Clud or Clut, and was central to the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

Australians nationality

Australians, colloquially known as Aussies, are citizens and nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia, although some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim Australian nationality. Home to people of many different ethnic origins, religious, and national origins, the Australian culture and law does not correspond nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and loyalty to the country. Despite the fact that over half of the citizens descend from the peoples of the British Isles, Australia is a multicultural society and has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

An "Edinburgh Australians' Club" existed in the years between 1870 and the First World War as large numbers of Australians were studying in Glasgow and Edinburgh, including some who had played Australian rules football with clubs in the Victorian Football Association, and at one time four Australian test cricketers. On Saturday 14 April 1888, the Edinburgh Australians, having travelled down to England to play an Australian Rules game against the University of London at Balham, lost the match two goals to four. There are early records and photographs in the University's Student magazine and the perpetual Cup donated by the Australians to record champion athletes, which is still on display at the University. Arthur Shrewsbury, organiser of a tour of Scottish and English rugby players, who had toured Australia in 1888 playing under both rugby rules and Australian rules football, suggested that the Edinburgh Australians team at the University of Edinburgh should travel down to England to meet the Australian team in a series of demonstration matches in Lancashire and Yorkshire, although this plan did not eventuate. [1]

Edinburgh City and council area in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

University of London federal public university in London, United Kingdom

The University of London is a collegiate federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2018, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.

Champion Australian Rules players who were members of the Edinburgh Australians Club over the next decade or two were Victorian premiership players RH Morrison, AB Timms and GF Read (Geelong); Colin Campbell and 'Gus' Kearney (Essendon). Other prominent players were J (Jos) Adams (Melbourne, Essendon and Geelong), J Pender, AE Syme (Essendon); FJ Clendinnen and AW Marwood (Melbourne).

Alexander "Alec" Boswell Timms was an Australian-born international rugby union forward who played club rugby for Edinburgh Wanderers and Edinburgh University. Timms played international rugby for Scotland and was selected for the British Isles team on its 1899 tour of Australia.

In addition there were many prominent Public School players such as WC and CC Macknight, SW Pitcher, WE O'Hara, DA Robinson, DGM Teague, W Scott, LG Pearson, HW Bryant, (son of 'Jerry' Bryant the publican who organised one of the first games in Melbourne), CS and CG Ryan (Melbourne Grammar), CG Timms, I Glassford (Geelong College), D Gordon, J & P Russell, AH Rutherford, RC Irvine (Geelong Grammar), GM Munro, R Fetherstone, CL Carter, T Fitchett, HF Lawrence (Wesley), Ramsay Mailer, HE Jackson and DJ Macrae (Scotch College). Testimony to the existence of the Edinburgh Australians Club are early records and photographs in the University's Student magazine and the perpetual Cup which the Australians donated to record champion athletes and which is still on display at the University.

Charles Gordon Timms Decorated British Army officer and Scottish rugby union player

Charles Gordon Timms & Three Bars (1884–1958) was a doctor, decorated officer in the British Army, and rugby union player who played for the Lions. He was one of the minority of rugby players who was never capped for a home nation to play for the Lions. He is also one of four soldiers to have been awarded the Military Cross four times, all in the First World War.

Scottish involvement in early years of Australian rules in Melbourne

Scots living in Melbourne and Victoria in the mid-19th century were greatly involved in the formation of the rules of the game, as well as the formation of a number of early clubs. The very first competition and trophy in 1861 was the instigation of the Royal Caledonian Society and known as the Caledonian Challenge Cup. One club formed by Scots was the still-existing Essendon Bombers in the elite Australian Football League in Melbourne, Australia. [1]

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Victoria (Australia) State in Australia

Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's smallest mainland state and its second-most populous state overall, thus making it the most densely populated state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.


The Caledonians or the Caledonian Confederacy were a Brittonic-speaking (Celtic) tribal confederacy in what is now Scotland during the Iron Age and Roman eras. The Greek form of the tribal name gave rise to the name Caledonia for their territory. The Caledonians were considered to be a group of Britons, but later, after the Roman conquest of the southern half of Britain, the northern inhabitants were distinguished as Picts, thought to be a related people who would have also spoken a Brittonic language. The Caledonian Britons were thus enemies of the Roman Empire, which was the occupying force then administering most of Great Britain as the Roman province of Britannia.

The now-defunct Glasgow Redbacks wore black jumpers with a red diagonal stripe across the front, the same as worn by Essendon Football Club. This is said to recognise the Scottish roots of Essendon, which was formed in 1871 by a Scots family who had moved to Melbourne.

Thomas Leather is the first known Scottish born player to have appeared in the Australian Football League and Sean Wight the most recent.

Modern era

During the 1990s the Caledonian Sharks were set up by John Boland, with the travelling restraints at the time club games lessend over the years until a period of inactivity until being adopted and rebranded as the Glasgow Sharks by Andrew Butler in 2003. The Edinburgh Puffins and modern SARFL came about through the work of Andrew Butler and Richard Prentice, former players with BARFL side, North London Lions. Butler and Prentice began plans for the SARFL in the winter of 2003. Intra city friendlies began in early 2003 and a combined rules match against Edinburgh Gaelic side Dunedin Connolleys. The Puffins made their debut in the 2003 Northern Cup tournament staged in St Helens. The side remained unbeaten against the then St Helens Miners and Wandsworth Demons. Later in 2003, the Puffins staged a home and away series against Oxford University winning both hard-fought games. The inaugural SARFL season was held in 2004 with a league consisting of two sides in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow. The Puffins name, originally conceived by inaugural Edinburgh Puffins coach Gavin England was subsequently conferred upon the Scottish national team. Later in 2010 the Scottish Puffins were rebranded as the Scottish Clansmen.

In 2006, Glasgow and Edinburgh considered competing in the BARFL Regional competition, though travel problems saw them continue an expanded SARFL local competition with the Glasgow Redbacks and Middlesbrough Hawks from northern England joining the league. The Hawks left the league in 2007 to join the northern division of Aussie Rules UK, and the Scottish league had difficulty in operating on more than a social match level in 2008.

The league was relaunched in 2009, with the Glasgow and Edinburgh playing bases consolidated to one club in each city. They were joined by a new club in Aberdeen, named the "Aberdingoes".

Current clubs

The following teams are active in Scotland:


Haggis Cup

2004Glasgow Sharks
2004Glasgow Sharks
2006Dublin Demons
2007Edinburgh Bloods
2008Edinburgh Bloods
2010Dublin Demons
2011Glasgow Sharks
2012Edinburgh Old Town Bloods
2013Edinburgh Old Town Bloods
2014Glasgow Sharks
2015Huddersfield Rams

Scottish National Team

The Scottish national team, The Clansmen, compete in 1–3 events per calendar year. These events are typically the Tri-Nations Championship, the AFL Europe Euro Cup and an additional challenge match or friendly tournament across the European continent.

Euro Cup Participation Formally known as the EU Cup, for which Scotland participated the inaugural event in London 2005 and again in Prague 2008. Since becoming the Euro Cup in 2010 Scotland has participated in a further 6 of the 8 AFL Europe Euro Cup competitions to date, these were; Milan 2010; Belfast 2011; Edinburgh 2012; London 2014; Lisbon 2016 and; Bordeaux 2017.

The Scottish Clansmens strongest Euro Cup performance was in Belfast 2011, winning their group with wins over Spain and Finland and finishing 6th over all in the tournament.

Scotland in Euro Cup

Edinburgh 2012

Pool Stage:

Scotland progress to the Bowl Semi-Finals

Bordeaux 2017

Pool Stage:

Scotland progress to the Plate Quarter-Finals

Scotland progress to the Plate Semi-Finals

Scotland progress to the Plate Final



ESPN (UK) and British Eurosport are the current holders of the British rights to the Australian Football League (AFL). ESPN shows three live games each round of the season including the playoffs and the AFL Grand Final. Eurosport shows one game a week but the coverage is delayed.

See also

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  1. 1 2 Football's Forgotten Tour, 2003, J Williamson, ISBN   0-9581018-0-9
  2. Scottish ARFL bounces back in 2009