AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) has welcomed today’s AFL 2021 fixture announcement and the news that the Territory will feature prominently with two games in the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round.
The AFL announced the full fixture today which sees the Territory centre stage with games in Darwin and Alice Springs for Rounds 11-12.
The Territory’s newest home Club – the Gold Coast SUNS – will take on the Melbourne powerhouse team Hawthorn at TIO Stadium in the last week in May; while long-time NT partner Melbourne will continue its love affair in Alice Springs a week later with the massive clash against the young guns Brisbane Lions at TIO Traeger Park.
Although final times and dates are still to be announced, AFLNT boss Stuart Totham said the opportunity to again be the feature destination for the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round was a huge boost for the Territory.
“We will again book-end the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round over the two rounds so it’s a fantastic way to celebrate bringing AFL footy to the Territory,” Totham said.
“We’re really pleased that we’ve drawn such a strong Victorian-based club Hawthorn to play our home team in Gold Coast SUNS.
“The Hawks last played up here in 1991 and have their own place in history as being the last NT opponent to play at Gardens Oval for our Australia Day clashes prior to the move to Marrara and TIO Stadium.
“The key excitement for us of course though is our continuing bond with the Gold Coast SUNS with five NT players now based there, with Joel Jeffrey the latest to join Mally Rosas in the men’s squad.”
Totham said the experience of the move directly the following week to Alice Springs had it challenges, however the scene was set for a huge clash between Melbourne and Brisbane Lions.
“The quick turnaround really stretched us in some ways, but the bottom line it worked a treat and it’s a big part of the reason we’ve locked in the same formula again,” Totham said.
“There is no doubt that the way Brisbane went about it last year and some of the connections to Alice in past players such as Lions club legend Darryl White will have an enormous impact in the Red Centre.
“Melbourne’s win last year in that close contest with St Kilda in the COVID-reduced crowd at TIO Traeger Park also really galvanised the Demons supporters.
“It was quite powerful when Melbourne just got over the line to hear the Demons theme song ringing out across the ground in the local Arrernte language. It capped off a memorable Indigenous Round and we hope that those supporters who come to the games will again be treated to similar scenes.”
“Territorians love their footy and today’s announcement is a great result for fans across the Northern Territory,” Minister for Major Events Hon Natasha Fyles said.
“Both Darwin and Alice Springs have been chosen to host big games - the Hawthorn match in particular will be massive, as they haven’t played here since a pre-season clash with the NTFL TIO Buffaloes back in 1991.
“This announcement follows a massive AFL presence in the Territory this year, where we saw the first Dreamtime in Darwin game draw a sold-out crowd, followed by Melbourne and St Kilda facing off in front of an eager Red Centre audience.
“These fixtures, proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government offer Territorians the opportunity to see top-level footy battled out in their own backyard."
Further details regarding exact dates and times, as well as allowed crowd numbers, will be announced in the New Year.