The Bicentennial Carnival Team

Bicentennial Carnival Team  Members
Hall of fame

The Bicentennial Carnival Team


The success in 1988 of the Northern Territory representative football team is unrivalled in terms of NT sporting history.

The team’s performance in being undefeated in three matches and winning the Second Division Championship at the National Bicentennial Carnival was, without doubt, the most significant single triumph in the history of Territory sport.

Led by champion coach John Taylor, and captained by a great skipper in Maurice Rioli, the group proved the universal truth of that oldest of sporting adages – that a champion team will always beat a team of champions. 

Those players were driven by a sense of collective unity, the strength of purpose, as well as the enormous pride in representing the Northern Territory at the premier national sporting event in Australia's bicentennial year.

Commentators’ eyes widened to read team sheets from A-Z as they started with the names Ahmat, Athanasiou, Berto, Briston, Cubillo and two Dunns.  They had enough time to pause for breath to take in Jeffrey, Long, McLean, Moscheni and Motlop – and by the time they got to the back of the alphabet they were met with three Riolis, a Vigona and a Wanganeen. 

Held in Adelaide in March 1988, the NT beat Tasmania, the Australian Amateurs and then the Victorian Football Association in the final to win the Second Division pennant. It was a State of Origin contest, and it was the first time in 100 years the NT was invited to play.

The pages of history now remind us of the enormous embarrassment for the Tasmanian team, who issued a press release minutes from the start of the opening game, expressing their outrage at being paced in the Second Division, and having the “dishonour” of drawing the NT first-up.

When the 11-goal demolition was complete, an NT official popped his head into the Tasmanian dressing room and asked if anyone would like their press release back.

After the carnival was over, astute football judges like Ron Barassi and Bill Goggin observed that the NT side was a better outfit than First Division teams WA and NSW. Some still believe the NT side was better than SA, the First Division winner.

Although many individuals from that team have been honoured over the past 30 years, it is time for the team itself to be officially acknowledged.

1988 Northern Territory Bicentennial Carnival Team

John Taylor - Coach
Maurice Rioli - Captain
Michael McLean - Vice Captain

Joe Ah Mat
Michael Athanasiou
Damien Berto
William Briston
Greg Bruce
Roy Cassetti
Eddie Cubillo
Cadji Dunn
Rohan Helyar
Brently Hughes
Russell Jeffrey
Bob Jones
Brian Long
Michael Long
Peter McGann
Adrian Moscheni
Paul Motlop
Mark Motlop
Kelly O'Donnell
Cyril Rioli Jnr
Willie Rioli
Willie Roe
Tony Vigona
Kevin Wanganeen

Support staff
Peter Atkinson - NT Director of Coaching
Kym Cook - Selector
Mike Crawshaw - General Manager
Bruce Farlow - Trainer
Michael Gregory - Property Steward
Costa Karaolias - Assistant Team Manager
Graham Manouge - Team Manager
Tony Shaw - President
Darryl Window - Selector


Second Division Championship winner at the National Bicentennial Carnival