Redtails vs Top End Storm clash is back as AFL curtain raiser

Top End Storm v Redtails

AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is excited that for the second year running the Redtails vs Top End Storm game will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Toyota AFL Premiership Round 18 blockbuster between Melbourne and the West Coast Eagles in Alice Springs this Sunday.

Following on from the success of the inaugural game last year, the two teams consist of some of the best talent Territory football has to offer, with players from remote regions such as Angurugu, Daly River, Galiwin'ku, Gove, Groote Eylandt, Maningrida, Ngukurr, Lajamanu, Papunya, Peppimenarti, Ramingining, Tiwi Islands and Yirrkala. 

The Top End Storm squad will also be boosted by the inclusion of two NT Thunder players who will be named after team selection on Thursday night.  

As with last year, in a great boost for Territory football, the game will be televised nationally via the AFL’s broadcast partner, Channel 7.

The Redtails will be coached by Jackson Ankers, a premiership coach for Federal Football Club in the CAFL who is also an assistant coach of the NT Thunder in the NEAFL. He is well known for his ability to analyse and motivate. 

Ankers works closely with the Redtails Football Program and will be assisted by Darren Talbot, Matthew Creeper, Ian McAdam, Graham Hayes and Rob Clarke. 

The Redtails Football Club, incorporating the Right Tracks Program, was created in 2012 to drive change in the community of Central Australia. Its main aim was to create a team that gives strong healthy pathways in behaviour, job readiness programs, healthy living and bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Central Australians creating unity and pride throughout Central Australia and beyond. This team allows its players to participate only if they are employed, studying or in the Right Tracks Program.

The Storm team will be coached by Hayden Rickard from Nhulunbuy. Rickard is the Manager for Culture and Community at the Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation who delivers the social programs through the Djarrak Football Club in Yirrkala. 

Rickard was the premiership coach of Djarrak in the Gove Football League in 2017 and is now the team manager working to support the team to create positive social outcomes for the male and female players of Djarrak and the Gove Football League. 

He has a wealth of coaching and mentoring experience through his involvement in a number of AFLNT talent and Indigenous programs and will mentor the Storm coaching group which consists of Clinton Firth, Cassidy Fitzclarence, Robert Hince and Andrew Wainwright.  

The Storm team will convene in Darwin on Wednesday and train with NT Thunder at TIO Stadium on Wednesday night before flying to Alice Springs on Thursday morning. 

Once in Alice Springs the team will undertake education and leadership sessions and on Friday will travel with the Melbourne Football Club to the Aboriginal community of Hermannsburg to conduct a football clinic and help deliver Trachoma education sessions. 

The two teams will again wear specially designed guernseys featuring work by local artists which they wore in the inaugural game last year. 

The Redtails guernsey is designed by Curtis Haines who is from Ti-Tree but now resides in Alice Springs. 

The guernsey pays homage to a common sight in Central Australia, the beautiful red-tailed black cockatoo. Haines explained that the bird remains the focus of the design as it sits front and centre, and the surrounds represent the story of the Redtails Football Club. 

“The stick figure on the front bottom right side represents the young man who lost his life through a domestic violence incident that happened in 2010 and was the catalyst for the Redtails Football Club's inception. It is also placed there in honour of him and in recognition of another young Redtails player who we lost far too early, in 2015.

“The patterns represent all communities in our region coming together to represent Central Australia through Australian football. We come together to strengthen our region and develop ways that together we improve not only our footy but create a future that addresses our issues and celebrate our successes. 

“The guernsey is a powerful statement of unity, opportunity, pride and honour. It embraces all of us to achieve greatness,” he said. 

The Storm guernsey is a re-creation of the 2018 NT Thunder Indigenous guernsey by Nathan Djerrkura. The former AFL and NT Thunder player is also a Yolngu man from the Wangurri clan and lives in the remote Arnhem Land town of Yirrkala.

Djerrkura said his design was inspired by watching the spectacular storms that roll in over the ocean. The blue colour in the Top End Storm design represents the sea across the top of the Territory, and the colours in the lightning bolt represent the colours of the traditional garments worn by different tribes and clans across the Top End.

“When the lightning strikes the water, it lights up the sky and the ocean followed by a monstrous roar that shakes the earth."

“I like to relate this to our Territory teams and how they light up the oval and the crowds with their speed, freakish skills and monstrous physical attack on the ball.”

AFLNT CEO Stu Totham said the game and meaning behind it was a great showcase of what Territory football is all about. 

“To have our Territory talent on display as a curtain raiser to an AFL game again is fantastic. 

“Football is a way of life for the Northern Territory, especially remote communities and this game will provide a great opportunity for talented players and community role models to come together and play on the big stage.

“They will not just be representing themselves but their families, communities and the whole Territory,” he said. 

A valid AFL entry ticket is required to attend. There are still general admission tickets available for purchase at


Ricky Ashley - Ramingining

Basil Bara - Groote Eylandt

Jordon Briston - Daly River

Daniel (Batamung) Bromot – Gove

Sam Christie - Gove

Michael Cooper - Tiwi Islands

Ralph  Dhamarrandji - Elcho Island

Anthony Djamangi Gaykamangu - Elcho Island

Marshall Gambley - Gove

Mathew Hall - Maningrida

Saverio Jurrah - Lajamanu

Kealyn  Kelly - Lajamanu

Lloyde  Laygarrambu Marika - Elcho Island

Lorenzo Lewis - Lajamanu

Mathias Liddy - Daly River

Davidson Maxwell - Maningrida
Robert   Murrungan - Groote Eylandt
Bobby Nunggunajbarr - Ngukurr

Adam Sambono - Daly River

John Tipiloura - Tiwi Islands

Kurt Wilson - Peppimenarti

Note: Redtails squad will be announced on Tuesday night with final squads for both teams announced on Friday.