Blockbuster SUNS and Blues set for Darwin

Gold Coast SUNS

AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is delighted to announce a big doubleheader with the AFL today confirming that the Sir Doug Nicholls Round will also feature a Friday night fixture (7:20pm ACST) between the Gold Coast SUNS and Carlton at TIO Stadium.  

It comes off the back of last week's announcement that the 'Dreamtime in Darwin’ game between Essendon and Richmond will take place on Saturday 22 August (7:10pm ACST).

Both games will showcase the beautiful Territory and its rich culture to a national audience via Channel 7, while also allowing thousands of locals to enjoy two quality games of AFL live.

It will be the first time the Gold Coast SUNS play in Darwin after forming a four-year partnership that covers games, talent and community outcomes.

The SUNS last played in Darwin for premiership points in 2012, and then played in Alice Springs in 2017. Meanwhile, Carlton has not graced the Top End in 15 years, its last game being in June 2005. 

AFLNT will continue to work with the AFL and Melbourne Football Club to feature a game in Alice Springs.

Ticket on-sale information for both Darwin games will be communicated ASAP, but it is pending NT Health's sign-off on the AFLNT COVID Event Plan.

It is expected that there will be reduced capacity, but fans will have access to purchase grandstand and general admission tickets. Those interested in corporate packages are encouraged to send an email to so that an AFLNT representative can be in touch once the details are known. 

Fans who wish to attend the games will need to adhere to all health and safety advice as directed by AFLNT or officials.

Toyota AFL Premiership Season

Gold Coast SUNS vs Carlton
Friday 21 August – Round 13
7:20pm ACST
TIO Stadium, Darwin
Ticket details to be confirmed ASAP

Essendon vs Richmond
Saturday 22 August – Round 13
7:10pm ACST
TIO Stadium, Darwin
Ticket details to be confirmed ASAP

Season 2020 marks the fourteenth year the AFL has celebrated the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their contribution to Australian Football and is the fourth year the dedicated round has been named in honour of Sir Doug Nicholls.

Sir Doug Nicholls was born on Cummeragunja mission in New South Wales in 1906. He played football for Fitzroy before becoming a Pastor and pioneer for reconciliation in Australia. He then went on to become the first Indigenous person to be Knighted and hold the position of Governor of South Australia.

This year’s round, while continuing to celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls, will also recognise Australian Football Legend Syd Jackson’s contribution to the game and the community. 

Playing 136 games for the Carlton Football Club from 1969 - 1976, the dual-premiership player has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including supporting the Blues Foundation with the Syd Jackson Program named in his honour. The program seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diverse communities.

AFL Northern Territory CEO, Stuart Totham said; “What a massive weekend of footy we have to look forward to in Round 13!
"Thanks to the NT Government and AFL, Top End footy fans will be treated to a spectacle on Friday night when Gold Coast SUNS and Carlton play, followed by the Dreamtime game on Saturday night. Both games will honour Sir Doug Nicholls and the rich Indigenous history of our game. 
"The SUNS will play for the first time as part of our four-year partnership, which is also delivering great results off-field in our talent and community space.
"It’s going to be exciting to see two young, fast, and rising teams go head to head; one team who is creating their history, of which we are proud to be part of, and another with deep roots and an established name.
"It is a privilege to have our partner, the Gold Coast SUNS along with four big Melbourne clubs; Carlton, Essendon and Richmond in the Territory, and we look forward to putting on two blockbuster events for the NT community.”

Gold Coast SUNS CEO, Mark Evans said; "This will be the SUNS’ first game in Darwin as part of our four-year Territory partnership – and what a game to start with.
“We were pushing to play on the big Friday night stage against a big Victorian club and the AFL has given us exactly that. It’s a fantastic result for the Territory.
“Our Friday night clash in Darwin in front of thousands of footy loving locals will be huge and then the Saturday night Dreamtime game speaks for itself.”
Mr Evans said the SUNS had worked with the NT Government and AFLNT to lobby the AFL for the SUNS v Blues and the Bombers v Tigers Dreamtime games for Darwin.
“Darwin is going to have an absolute blockbuster weekend of footy – millions of people will tune-in for these two games.
“We are very proud of our partnership with the Territory. We want it to be more than just an annual game of footy and that’s why we helped lobby to get another game played in Darwin.
Mr Evans said the Territory was the safest place in Australia when it came to COVID-19 and the AFL clubs will adhere to strict guidelines to ensure player, staff and community safety.

NT Major Events CEO, Tim Watsford said; “For fans to be able to enjoy two AFL games right here in the Territory on the same weekend is fantastic. This is such an opportunity for us to see our footy heroes in action.

“With the Territory producing so many incredible Aboriginal footballers it seems natural the Dreamtime match should take place here. Now we have a Gold Coast SUNS game to add to the calendar too. That means four professional AFL teams and their support crews staying right here in the Territory.

“We’ve already seen plenty of local support for the Dreamtime game, and the second match will further increase the excitement. This doubleheader will inspire our next generation of AFL players.”

AFL General Manager of Social Policy and Inclusion, Tanya Hosch, said this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round will recognise the immense journey the AFL has undertaken since the introduction of the Discrimination and Racial and Religious Vilification Act in 1995.

“Sir Doug Nicholls Round creates a platform to profile players who have changed the game’s history and faced racism and discrimination to fight for equality and recognition, such as Carlton Champion and Wongatha man, Syd Jackson, our 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round honouree.
“To have two matches in Darwin, and all our clubs embracing the spirit of the round, proudly wearing their Indigenous Guernsey’s, it will make for a memorable celebration in what has been an unprecedented season.”
AFL General Manager of Broadcasting and Clubs, Travis Auld, has outlined the significance of the 2020 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round to the AFL;
“This is the fifth year the dedicated round has been named in honour of Sir Doug Nicholls, an icon of Australian football and someone who represents the values of the game.

“The Sir Doug Nicholls Round is a hugely significant round in the season, and as part of this round, we’re really excited about the opportunity to play both the Dreamtime Game and the first-ever Gold Coast home game in Darwin.
“I’d also like to thank the Northern Territory Government and the Seven Network for their support in allowing us to bring the Dreamtime Game to Darwin."