NTFL Wanderers v St Marys TIO Stadium carpark fight, brawl, reaction

The latest in a series of violent incidents at AFL Northern Territory games this season has prompted a furious reaction from league boss Stuart Totham.

Totham is fuming after a violent brawl erupted in the carpark at Darwin’s TIO Stadium following an under-18s girls game between St Mary’s and Wanderers on Saturday.

The NT News reports a 17-year-old girl was taken to hospital with a chipped vertebrae and possible concussion after on-field arguments between the teams escalated after the match.

Emergency services were called at 12.30pm after a large group of players and spectators began fighting following St Mary’s 10.20 (80) to 1.1 (7) win.

“After being informed of the reported incidents at TIO Stadium yesterday, AFLNT have had enough of this disgraceful conduct at the footy. It is not acceptable and it has to stop now,” Totham said in a statement.

“Footy is an enjoyable, passionate pursuit and one many people invest their time into. We offer a safe place for participants to play the game of AFL and for the community to come and watch. We want to keep it that way. To be confronted with this type of poor conduct is totally unacceptable.

“This is not only about the incident at TIO Stadium yesterday afternoon but following a number of incidents of poor behaviour both on match day and outside of footy. Footy is not a place to come and settle a score.

“Individuals involved in these incidents need to accept responsibility and consequences. If they want to continue to be part of our game, changes need to be made or we will encourage these individuals to do something else. If you wish to continue this behaviour, you are not welcome at the footy and those individuals and clubs can expect harsh sanctions.

“With regard to the incident at TIO Stadium yesterday, I will be personally reaching out to every club president to ensure this message is heard. AFLNT will also work closely with police, clubs and others to ensure we understand all that occurred yesterday. If any further action is required, we will comment further at the appropriate time.”

A post on St Mary’s Instagram page congratulated their team on securing top spot on the ladder and added: “We are very proud of this group of young women for the way they conduct themselves on and off the field.”

In a statement, Wanderers president Jeromo Cubillo acknowledged an incident had taken place “outside the grounds” but said he would not comment further “until we have all the facts”.

“Wanderers Football Club does not condone violence in any form within our club. While we await the AFLNT investigation, we will continue to support our members through the incident.

The members involved in the incident are co-operating with the club and the AFLNT during the investigation,” he said.

“The club asked our players, supporters and members to refrain from engaging in any social media commentary. As this isn’t helpful as not all the facts have been laid out.”

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EXCLUSIVE NTFL STATS: All the details from Round 17 of the MPL

ANOTHER round of exciting NTFL action has come to a close with plenty of big performances on show through Round 17 and the NT News can exclusively reveal all the individual and team stats from the round.

Thank you for dropping in and checking out this news update on current Northern Territory News named “EXCLUSIVE NTFL STATS: All the details from Round 17 of the MPL”. This news release is posted by MyLocalPages as part of our news aggregator services.


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NT footballers share sweat management tips as NTFL enacts heat policy ahead of weekend

Participating in a tradition that began over a century ago, Northern Territory footballer Daniel Fitzgerald will solemnly apply sunblock today before playing a match in heat that turns his size 12 boots into swinging pools of sweat.

For the second consecutive Saturday, Territory footballers like Fitzgerald will play in temperatures in the mid-30s — a forecast prompting league administrators to implement its extreme heat policy across all matches this weekend.

The string of measures the AFL Northern Territory will employ to keep players safe in the heat includes shortening quarters, extending breaks and providing fans for interchange benches.

While the heat mitigation measures will provide some respite to the 36C forecast, Fitzgerald is already resigned to sunburn.

“When the sun is beating down and it’s 35 degrees with 80 per cent humidity during a 2:00pm game, there’s only one word to describe it — brutal,” says Fitzgerald, who plays in the ruck for the Darwin Buffaloes in Division 1.

“I literally douse myself in 50+ SPF sunscreen, particularly my shoulders and face — this has to be done before warming up, otherwise I’ll be too sweaty to apply it properly.

“Regardless of what I do, I always get at least a little sunburnt.

“At the end of one game, so much sweat had run down into my boots that it felt like I had walked through a puddle.”

The Northern Territory Football League will be operating under the league’s Extreme Weather Policy this weekend.(Supplied: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media)

Nightcliff Women’s Premier League player Mickayla Ward, who is the former captain of the Western Bulldogs VFLW team in Victoria, remembers near-hail and “freezing” conditions as she ran around a Melbourne oval to stay warm in Winter 2019.

Last Saturday, she was playing footy during a heatwave as declared by the Bureau of Meteorology.


“It is crazy. It’s such extreme conditions,” she said.

“I find that you’re often feeling quite overheated. That’s why on the bench you have the ice towels, you have the fans, you have the cool rooms at TIO stadium.”

Ward says that by the night before the game she will be deep into her hydration routine, and by the warm-up her jersey is already drenched in sweat.

“Preparation for any sport performance is crucial but up here I think it is so much more crucial the day before with your water intake, that you are getting in your Gatorade, because as soon as you get out there you are sweating it out,” she said.

“It’s so important because you actually really struggle up here, and the humidity adds to it, it’s either direct sunlight and you’re hot at 35 degrees, or its 35 degrees and raining with high humidity — so either way your body temperature out on that ground is extreme.”

Yet Ward has no qualms about playing in the searing conditions

“I certainly am a believer in I’ve chosen to play in the NT, so I’ll hydrate myself the day before, the day of, and get out there and get the job done,” she said.

Ward’s coach, Shannon Miller, says she is big on preparing her players for the conditions and affording them every opportunity to rest and thermoregulate.

Two players run across the footy field during the day in the Northern Territory.
The NTFL’s heat policy includes permitting clubs to have an extra two water carriers and providing ice vests to umpires.(Supplied: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media)

She stresses high rotations on the bench, advocates a sensible Hydralyte intake, and tries to keep her players in the shade wherever possible during breaks.

“And I’m big at half time to let them have a moment have a drink and just let them compose themselves for a bit,” she said.

Ryan Pendlebury, who currently plays with Port Melbourne in the VFL and has joined the Darwin Buffaloes for the 2020/21 season, says you need to play slightly differently in the Territory to avoid weather-induced mistakes.

“It’s hot but also wet, which is a weird combination. The ball, it’s like it’s been raining all day,” he said.

“Personally, I usually try and mark everything but it’s a little different here because the ball is so wet. I’ve sort of started to figure out that the ball is a bar of soap and you have to mark it on your chest.”

Pendlebury says he doesn’t prepare too differently to his games in Victoria — but hydration, he says, is non-negotiable: “You have to really concentrate on making sure you are hydrating, otherwise it won’t turn out too well.”

Thermal performance expert Dr Matt Brearly, who is renowned for his research into physiological responses to heat exposure, says elite players will intuitively slow down to adjust for the high match temperatures.

A man stands outside looking downwards, wearing a checkered shirt.
Dr Matt Brearly says less experienced footballers should avoid intense heat.(ABC News)

This, he says, effectively mitigates the impact of the hot conditions on their performance and reduces the likelihood of heat stress.

“Generally the senior players, while the heat impacts them, that knowledge and experience with playing in the Territory will modify how hard they work,” Dr Brearly said.

Dr Brearly says while he doesn’t have an issue with wet-season footy where games are invariably played in temperatures above 30C, he does have an issue with playing in a heatwave in the middle of the day,

“These might be developing athletes, these might be recreational athletes that are past their prime,” Dr Brearly said.

“We’re putting our kids at risk … I think we can do better.”

While league administrators AFLNT say they are working towards fixturing more night games (new lights installed at Gardens, Bagot and Nightcliff ovals will help the cause), the league will push ahead with matches during the current heatwave under its Extreme Heat Protocols.

To prepare for today’s match, Cameron Ilett, the Northern Territory’s pre-eminent footballer of the last 20 years, says his preparation started a week ago.

“If you want to get really deep into it, what you do after the game the previous week is where it starts, in terms of putting the right fuels in the body,” he said.

Thunder forward Cameron Ilett hand passes
Cameron Ilett is a veteran of the Northern Territory Football League.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Ilett, who has played more than 350 games in Territory footy teams, has a few tips for the kids who run out on the field for wet-season footy.

“It’s about working smarter, not harder,” Ilett says of playing winning football in the heat.

“It comes down to picking and choosing the right moments to try and have an impact in the contest.

“You don’t have the ability to make every contest: it’s about thinking ahead and trying to get to the next phase of play.”

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