Northern Territory Football League

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Northern Territory Football League
Northern Territory Football League logo.jpg
FormerlyNorthern Territory Football Association (NTFA)
Sport Australian rules football
Inaugural season1916;105 years ago (1916)
No. of teams15 (8 premier league, 7 reserves)
CountryFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Most recent
Nightcliff (6th premiership)
Most titles St Mary's (32)
TV partner(s) Southern Cross Seven
Official website NTFL

The Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) is an Australian rules football semi-professional league operating in Darwin in the Northern Territory.


The league is one of the only, and the highest level, Australian Rules competitions played during the Australian Summer with the season beginning in October and ending in March, because cricket cannot be played during the wet season, due to high levels of rain, resulting in the football and cricket seasons being swapped. The league regularly attracts high-profile semi-professional players from interstate leagues due to its lack of salary cap and the timing of the season, which allows players to play extra matches during the rest of Australia's off-season.


While most other Australian rules leagues in Australia operate during the southern hemisphere winter, the NTFL chooses to play in the Northern Territory's 'wet season' from October to March, primarily due to hard playing surfaces during the 'dry season'.

The NTFL was founded in 1916 with The Wanderers Football Club and Waratah Football Club as founding members. Waratahs are the only club to have competed in every season of the NTFL. Darwin (Buffalos Football Club) was formed in 1917, Nightcliff in 1950, St Marys in 1952, Palmerston in 1972 (as North Darwin), Southern Districts in 1987 and the Tiwi Bombers in 2006 (with full entry in 2007).

The 1974-75 season was abandoned due to Cyclone Tracy.

In the 1990s, the league ran into financial problems primarily due to the Northern Territory government luring the league to the new purpose-built stadium at Marrara Oval after its construction in 1991. The move pushed the league's operating costs up drastically despite contrary promises from the NT government. Marrara Oval is now known as TIO Stadium, as part of a naming rights deal with NT health insurance company, Territory Insurance Office.

During this history of the league it has exported successful players to other leagues, notable players have included Michael McLean, Maurice Rioli and Michael Long.

In 2006, it was announced that a team representing the Tiwi Islands, called the Super Tiwis would be added to the 2006/07 season for eight games against teams that would normally have the bye. They became a permanent part of the league in the 07/08 season as the Tiwi Bombers, clad in Essendon Football Club style guernseys of black and red.

There was also a push for an NTFL representative club to compete in the Adelaide-based South Australian National Football League (SANFL). The first of a series of trial matches was held in 2006, with a long term view of admitting a Darwin side into the SANFL. A strong crowd at Marrara Oval witnessed SANFL club North Adelaide defeat a composite NTFL squad by 27 points, demonstrating that a Darwin team could be competitive. There was a push to make the event an annual match, [1] however, the NTFL decided on fielding a side in the AFL Queensland State League from 2009 (which became the Northern Conference of the North East Australian Football League in 2011) and the Northern Territory Football Club was formed.

In 2010 it was decided to merge the NTFL with the Top End Australian Football Association (TEAFA) to create a three division competition in which the NTFL would make the Premier League whilst the NTFL reserve competition and clubs from the TEAFA would incorporate the First Division and Second Divisions.

The 2012/2013 season saw Banks Bulldogs and the Central Australian Football Club placed on a four-match trial in the Premier League, for possible full-time inclusion. The Bulldogs, originally a part of the TEAFA competition, would stay in the NTFL Division One competition. But the CAFC team would continue their trial run in the Premier League, the number of games extended to 10 for the 2013/2014 season. However, the side did not become a permanent team in the competition.

League structure

The league consists of both junior and senior divisions. The A Grade competition is known as the NTFL Men's Premier League and includes eight clubs (Darwin, Nightcliff, Palmerston, Southern Districts, St Mary's, Tiwi Bombers, Wanderers, and Waratah). The reserves are divided into two divisions known as Division 1 (B Grade) and Division 2 (C Grade). Division one includes all Premier League clubs, excluding the Tiwi Bombers, and four other clubs which were formerly in the TEAFA competition (Banks, PINT, Tracy Village, and University). Division 2 consists of nine clubs with the inclusion of Jabiru. The A Grade Women's competition consists of eight clubs, including all Premier League clubs, except for the Tiwi Bombers replaced by Tracy Village.

The junior division is broken into age groups, under 18's, under 16's, youth girls, under 14's, and under 12's, with all age groups split into two divisions, except for under 18's and youth girls. Under 18's is the only junior division with a fixed number of clubs, including all Premier League clubs, except for the Tiwi Bombers replaced by Big River Hawks. The rest of the junior divisions vary based on participation levels each year, however, the clubs with juniors are all the Premier League clubs and Tracy Village.


Current clubs

Premier League Clubs

ClubNicknameHome GroundLocationEntered
PremiershipsMost Recent
Darwin Buffaloes TIO Stadium Marrara 191623 2005–06
Nightcliff Tigers PSC BM Oval Nightcliff 19506 2020–21
Palmerston Magpies Asbuild Oval Durack 19723 2001–02
Southern Districts Crocs Norbuilt Oval Freds Pass 19873 2017–18
St Mary's Saints TIO Stadium Marrara 195232 2016–17
Tiwi Bombers Bombers Tiwi Oval Wurrumiyanga 20071 2011–12
Wanderers Eagles TIO Stadium Marrara 191612 2014–15
Waratah Warriors Gardens Oval The Gardens 191615 1999–00

Division One/Two Clubs

ClubNicknameHome GroundLocationFormedPremierships
BanksBulldogs Gardens Oval The Gardens 197817
JabiruBombersBrockman Oval Jabiru 19825
MindilSharks Gardens Oval The Gardens 19911
OlympicSpartansTIO Oval No. 2 Marrara 20111
PINTGreenantsMarrara Cricket Ground Marrara 19827
Tracy VillageRazorbacksTracy Village Oval Lyons 19781
UniversityRatsTIO Oval No. 2 Marrara 13

Former Clubs

Former Premier League Clubs

GarrisonSoldiers or Keros1934/352 (1936/37, 1938/39)1940/41
Rovers/MagpiesMagpies1925/261 (1927/28)1928/29
Mobile ForceUnknown1939/401 (1939/40)1939/40
Air ForceUnknown1938/3901941/42
AIF Regiment-ArtilleryUnknown1941/4201941/42
Machine GunnersGunners1941/4201941/42




In 2006, NTFL premier league matches were broadcast nationally for the first time ever on ABC2 each Sunday afternoon from February to March. Previously the matches had only been shown in the Territory on ABC Darwin. In 2008, it reverted to local broadcasting. During the 2014/15 season, the Saturday 3.00pm premier league match was broadcast live on ABC in Darwin. During the 2017/18 season, Southern Cross TV broadcast one game a week on Sunday afternoons. Since then National Indigenous Television (NITV) broadcasts nationally replays of one game a week throughout the week starting Sunday afternoons.


During the 2014/15 season, one premier league match was broadcast on ABC Local Radio, the match was either the late or early Saturday game and was an alternate match to the TV-broadcast game. In 2017/18, ABC will continue to broadcast one game a week on the digital radio frequency 105.7FM with a commentary team including Dominic McCormack, Natasha Medbury and Kieran Davis.


Internet broadcasting commenced through YouTube during the 2012/2013 season, followed by its inclusion on the ABC iView on-demand service the 2013/2014 season which uses the recordings taken from the match day broadcast. The TV broadcast match was simulcast live on ABC Grandstand on YouTube during the 2014/15 season.


The NTFL attracts strong local crowds. The 2005 Grand final attracted a crowd of over 5,000 people. One of the biggest crowds was the 2010/11 Grand Final between St Mary's and Wanderers, with the Wanderers prevailing with a 28-point win, which attracted an over 9,000 crowd.

Premier tally

ClubPremiershipsRunners-upPremiership yearsRunner-up years
St Marys 32191954/55, 1955/56, 1958/59, 1959/60,
1961/62, 1965/66, 1966/67, 1971/72,
1977/78, 1978/79, 1983/84, 1984/85,
1985/86, 1986/87, 1987/88, 1989/90,
1990/91, 1991/92, 1993/94, 1994/95,
1995/96, 1996/97, 2002/03, 2003/04,
2004/05, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10,
2012/13, 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17
1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1967/68,
1968/69, 1969/70, 1970/71, 1972/73,
1976/77, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1992/93,
1997/98, 1998/99, 2005/06, 2010/11,
2014/15, 2019/20, 2020/21
Darwin 23301921/22, 1924/25, 1925/26, 1926/27,
1931/32, 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36,
1948/49, 1949/50, 1950/51, 1951/52,
1962/63, 1963/64, 1967/68, 1968/69,
1969/70, 1970/71, 1972/73, 1975/76,
1979/80, 1988/89, 2005/06
1919/20, 1929/30, 1930/31, 1932/33,
1936/37, 1937/38, 1938/39, 1940/41,
1946/47, 1947/48, 1952/53, 1953/54,
1954/55, 1956/57, 1958/59, 1959/60,
1961/62, 1964/65, 1966/67, 1971/72,
1983/84, 1986/87, 1987/88, 1989/90,
1990/91, 1991/92, 1993/94, 1994/95,
2000/01, 2017/18
Waratah 15151920/21, 1928/29, 1929/30, 1930/31,
1932/33, 1937/38, 1940/41, 1946/47,
1947/48, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1973/74,
1976/77, 1998/99, 1999/00
1916/17, 1917/18, 1918/19, 1922/23,
1923/24, 1925/26, 1927/28, 1931/32,
1933/34, 1934/35, 1950/51, 1955/56,
1996/97, 2006/07, 2007/08
Wanderers 12141916/17, 1917/18, 1918/19, 1919/20,
1922/23, 1923/24, 1957/58, 1981/82,
1982/83, 1992/93, 2010/11, 2014/15
1920/21, 1921/22, 1924/25, 1948/49,
1949/50, 1951/52, 1980/81, 1984/85,
1988/89, 2004/05, 2008/09, 2013/14,
2015/16, 2016/17
Nightcliff 681956/57, 1960/61, 1964/65, 2018/19,
2019/20, 2020/21
1957/58, 1965/66, 1973/74, 1978/79,
1985/86, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2011/12
Palmerston 351980/81, 2000/01, 2001/021975/76, 1977/78, 1979/80, 1999/00,
Southern Districts 321997/98, 2006/07, 2017/181995/96, 2018/19
Tiwi Bombers 122011/122009/10, 2012/13

Wooden Spoon tally

ClubTotal Wooden SpoonsYears of Wooden Spoon
1930/31, 1931/32, 1932/33, 1933/34, 1935/36, 1946/47, 1953/54, 1954/55, 1955/56, 1956/57, 1963/64, 1964/65, 1965/66, 1966/67, 1967/68, 1968/69, 1969/70, 1970/71, 1971/72, 1976/77, 1979/80, 1989/90, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2007/08
1919/20, 1921/22, 1924/25, 1926/27, 1936/37, 1949/50, 1951/52, 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1975/76, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1980/81, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1984/85, 1988/89, 1993/94, 2014/15, 2015/16
1916/17, 1917/18, 1918/19, 1920/21, 1922/23, 1923/24, 1927/28, 1928/29, 1960/61, 1996/97, 2006/07, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14
1972/73, 1973/74, 1981/82, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1990/91, 1994/95, 2004/05, 2017/18, 2019/20
1950/51, 1952/53, 1992/93, 1995/96, 2010/11
Southern Districts
1991/92, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2005/06
Tiwi Bombers
2016/17, 2020/21
St Marys

Competition timeline

Northern Territory Football League

Women's Premier League

The Woman's NTFL competition was all started in 2004 and currently has 10 teams enrolling. [2]


Premier League Clubs

Big RiverHawks0
Tracy VillageRazorbacks0
PintQueenants1 (2020/21)
Darwin Buffettes1 (2016/17)
Nightcliff Tigers0
Palmerston Magpies1 (2010/11)
St Mary's Saints5 (2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09,
Southern Districts Crocs1 (2019/20)
Wanderers Eagles0
Waratah Warriors8 (2006/07, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14,
2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18, 2018/19)

Grand Finals

YearsPremiersGF ScoreRunner-upDateLocation
2004/05St. Mary's(1)7.5.47 - 0.3.3Darwin Buffettes (1)2005Marrara Stadium
2005/06St. Mary's(2)8.11.59 - 3.2.20Waratah (1)2006Marrara Stadium
2006/07Waratah(1)3.1.19 - 2.5.17Darwin Buffettes (2)2007Marrara Stadium
2007/08St. Mary's(3)7.2.44 - 5.4.34Waratah (2)2008Marrara Stadium
2008/09St. Mary's(4)9.12.66 - 4.4.28Palmerston Magpies (1)2009Marrara Stadium
2009/10St. Mary's(5)9.5.59 - 3.6.24Waratah (3)2010Marrara Stadium
2010/11Palmerston Magpies(1)6.5.41 - 4.7.31St. Mary's (1)2011Marrara Stadium
2011/12Waratah(2)9.8.62 - 2.1.13St. Mary's (2)2012Marrara Stadium
2012/13Waratah(3)13.5 (83) - 8.4 (52)St. Mary's (3)Saturday, March 9, 2013 (1:15 pm)Marrara Stadium
2013/14Waratah(4)6.7 (43) - 3.6 (24)Darwin Buffettes (3)Saturday, March 8, 2014 (4:00 pm)Marrara Stadium
2014/15Waratah(5)9.4 (58) - 0.4 (4)Tracy Village (1)Saturday, March 7, 2015 (4:15 pm)Marrara Stadium
2015/16Waratah(6)6.14 (50) - 4.8 (32)Wanderers (1)Saturday, March 12, 2016 (4:30 pm)Marrara Stadium
2016/17Darwin Buffettes(1)6.9 (45) - 4.3 (27)Waratah (4)Saturday, March 11, 2017 (1:30 pm)Marrara Stadium
2017/18Waratah(7)9.5 (59) - 4.0 (24)Darwin Buffettes(4)Saturday, March 10, 2018 (4:30 pm)Marrara Stadium
2018/19Waratah(8)3.3 (21) - 0.3 (3)Southern Districts (1)Saturday, March 9, 2019 (4:30 pm)Marrara Stadium
2019/20Southern Districts(1)6.3 (39) - 3.3 (21)Waratah (5)Saturday, March 7, 2020 (4:30 pm)Marrara Stadium
2020/21Pint(1)7.4 (46) - 5.5 (35)Darwin Buffettes (5)Saturday, March 20, 2021 (4:00 pm)Marrara Stadium

See also

Related Research Articles

Darwin, Northern Territory Capital of the Northern Territory, Australia

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. With a 2019 estimated population of 147,255, it has more residents than the rest of the sparsely populated Northern Territory. It is the smallest, wettest, and most northerly of the Australian capital cities and serves as the Top End's regional centre.

Marrara Oval

Marrara Oval, currently branded TIO Stadium under a naming rights agreement, is a sports ground in Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory. The ground primarily hosts Australian rules football, cricket, and rugby league.

Michael "Magic" McLean is a former professional Australian rules footballer who played for the Footscray Football Club, Brisbane Bears and Brisbane Lions in the Australian Football League (AFL).

St Marys Football Club (NTFL)

The St Marys Football Club, nicknamed, Saints, formed in 1952, is an Australian rules football club, affiliated to the Northern Territory Football League. It is famous for its record of success, with 32 NTFL premierships in 50 Grand Finals and 64 out of 67 possible final appearances. To the end of season 2019/20, St Marys have played 1254 games for 903 Wins 341 Losses and 10 Draws.

Nightcliff Football Club

The Nightcliff Football Club, nicknamed, Tigers, is a member club of the Northern Territory Football League, and is based in the Darwin suburb of Nightcliff.

Tiwi Islands Football League

The Tiwi Islands Football League is an Australian rules football competition in the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory, Australia. Australian Rules football is the most popular sport on the Tiwi Islands. The Grand Final of the TIFL is broadcast each year on ABC Northern and more recently, nationally on ABC2 and ABC.

Australian rules football in the Northern Territory

Australian Football in the Northern Territory has a history dating back to the 1910s and is the most popular sport in the territory, particularly with indigenous Australian communities in Darwin, Alice Springs and the Tiwi Islands.

Maurice Rioli

Maurice Joseph Rioli was an Australian rules footballer who represented St Mary's Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), South Fremantle in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) and Richmond in the Victorian Football League.

Tiwi Bombers Football Club

The Tiwi Bombers Football Club is an Australian rules football club, currently competing in the Northern Territory Football League.

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Many sports are played in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Established in 1953, the Darwin Baseball Association and latterly Darwin Baseball League (DBL) is the governing body of amateur baseball in Darwin, Northern Territory. The DBL is governed by Baseball NT and ultimately, the Australian Baseball Federation.

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Abbey Holmes Australian rules footballer

Abbey Holmes is an Australian rules footballer who played for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). She began playing football for the Waratah Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League in 2012 and won four consecutive premierships with the club, along with being the league's leading goalkicker the same four seasons. In 2014, she became the first woman to kick 100 goals in a season in an established football league, and in 2016 she was drafted in the inaugural AFL Women's draft by Adelaide.

The 2016/17 NTFL season was the 96th season of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).

The 2013/14 NTFL season was the 93rd season of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).

The 2011/12 NTFL season was the 91st season of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).

The 2010–11 NTFL season was the 90th season of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), an Australian rules football competition that was based in the Northern Territory. Eight teams competed in the 2010 season, the same since the 2007 season when the Tiwi Bombers joined the league.

The 2009/10 NTFL season was the 89th season of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).


  1. NTFL vs North Adelaide
  2. "Women's Premier League Premierships".