East Wins Again at East v West Championship

The East triumphed again in the 2nd Annual East v West Championship held in Atlanta on Saturday, but there are a few stories to tell about the game just the same, and who knows probably a few about less than game related activities!!!!  Arriving at the field all players were greeted to the wide and lush expanses of the Atlanta Polo & Country Club fields in Cumming, Georgia the location of the 2004 USAFL National Championships. A full size field of 180 x 140 yards had been laid out by the host club to showcase the great skills and fitness this game demands. And were these two attributes ever so needed on this day. Bring on the heat and it shall be done, Atlanta turned on one of the hottest days since last summer and only for a slight intermittent breeze the humid conditions could have been categorized as a health hazard.

The curtain raiser game was revamped slightly from the proposed All American format to include nominated All Star players from Atlanta, Milwaukee and North Carolina playing for the West due to insufficient players from making the trip from the west. This made for a very evenly balanced affair with never an easy ball to be found. Just great tough footy. The East took an early ascendancy and seemed to be teaming well together. The West had opportunities but couldn’t put goals on the board a fact that was to later be telling in the game result perhaps. At quarter time East led 3.1 to the West 0.3.

The second term saw the West knuckle down and get back into the game, some great passages of play allowed them to be almost on level terms at the main break with East leading slightly 4.3 to 3.7. The game could have been all over in the third term but the West couldn’t get the ball through the big sticks. Kicking 1.7 for the quarter it allowed the East to take a slender lead of 5 points into the last change. West tried hard in the last term but the East had all the answers, both teams kicking 3 goals a piece the East held sway after a spirited effort by the West team.

Final Scores

East 9.11.65 defeated West 7.17.59


Then it was the All Stars turn. 44 of the best players in the USA going around this great field made this the fastest, toughest and most highly skilled local game of Aussie Rules ever played in the States. The West came out firing that’s for sure and slammed on goal after goal from the first bounce. First to the ball and capitalizing on every single mistake the East made they had 4 goals on the board before the East blinked.

The benches were running hot with interchanges, a move that ever increased as the heated conditions took there toll though the game. At quarter time the scores were an ominous sign perhaps that the East were in for a titanic struggle this year following their win in 2003. The East got their first late in the term but West had added another to make it 5.1 to 1.3 at the first break.

The second term with the East kicking with aid of a slight breeze they slowly began whittling away at the West’s lead. The West was dominating the mid field though and if only for some great defensive work by the East the game could have been all over at half time. The lead at the main break being 15 pts all players resigned to the shade for some well earned refreshments supplied by the Atlanta Kookaburras. West leading 7.2 to 4.5.

The third term was survival of the fittest and after the West ascendancy in the center started to subside it seemed to come down to a battle of the defenses. The ball moving quickly from end to end. The crowd was treated a great display of high marking, plenty of bone crunching tackles and fantastic skills. However it was the conversion ability of the West that meant they added two goals to their tally whilst the East lamented missed chances.

At the final change back the margin was out to 29pts points. West 9.6 to East 4.7, perhaps an insurmountable lead given the game as it had been played thus far and of course the conditions. But funny things happen in football and this was true here. West came out shoring up defenses maybe too much and gave back the East a chance to get back into the game. Now dominating the center themselves the East were able to string together several goals.

Into the dying minutes of the game the East hit the front for the first time for the day. Not long after the siren blew and one could think the game was stolen but scores will read for ever and a day the East by 4 points regardless of how they got that way. Five unanswered goals in the last term to the East’s where they had struggled all day to get any system happening up forward due to the great defenses of the West meant disappointment for the West team where they had been the better team maybe most of the day.

Final Scores

East 9.11.65 defeated West 9.7.61


East: McGlashan 3, Luminato 3, Lakomy 2, Nugent 1


West: Matt Carroll 3, Kelly, Toohey, Martinez, McNeil, Brasher, Levenbaum 1


What was amazing and very true and there were numerous mentions of this after the events that it was impossible to tell who were Australians and who were Americans out there. This shows the standard and the development of footy in the US is at. The day nearly ended with a great function at the Marriot Hotel where with the few obligatory thanks, awards were presented to the 110 attending guests.

Milwaukee’s star recruit Luke Woolrich from Hampton Rovers in Melbourne was a stand out in the revised curtain raiser and received the MVP award for his great game. The Scott Nicholas Medal for Best on Ground in the USAFL All Star game went to the East’s and Boston’s Brad Rinklin for a superb never say die game at full back.

Alan Nugent announced new inclusions into the Revolution Squad to for the imminent game against the Northwind in July and the trip to Australia for the International Cup in 2005. The night winded down with a trip out on the town with hosts Atlanta making sure all players got to see some of the nightlife of Atlanta.

All in all an event that exceeded all expectations and only goes to prove that footy in the USA is going ahead in leaps and bounds.

- Wayne Kraska

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