Berlin League Preview 2017
The cold, dark winter has passed and the weather and morale of the Berlin population is on the improve since the Berlin League season 2017 is about to begin. The four team AFL season in Berlin is back for another year with the Giants vying to be the first team in Berlin League history to win 3 flags in a row. Trying to stop them will be perennial grand finalists the Crows, the peoples team the Eagles and the Mariners who are in a rebuilding phase. It is going to be great weather this coming Saturday and there will likely be a big crowd for the season opening weekend with members and fans keen to see the boys in action and enjoy a snag and froth in the Berlin sun. Round 1 sees the Mariners against the Eagles (13:00) in the curtain raiser to the Grand Final rematch between the Crows and Giants (14:00).
South Berlin Giants
Last Season: 1st
Premierships: 2015, 2016
Key Players: James Sunderman: Sunders proved to be an absolute steal last year slipping through to pick 8 in the draft. His hardness around the ball was just what the Giants were lacking in previous seasons and this was evident in his best on ground display in the season decider. The Giants will be hoping that his ageing body holds up against the rigors of Berlin League Football in 2017.
Haroon Yousufy: Haroon has been part of the South Berlin franchise since day dot (when he arrived to training thinking it was an English speaking soccer club) but he arguably had his best season in 2016. He is a constant threat in the forward line and his contested marking is up there with the best players in the league. If other teams are going to challenge the Giants this season they will need to first stop the influence of Haroon.
Prediction: 2nd The Giants past two premierships have been surrounded in controversy. From playing ineligible players to draft tampering and tapping up players from other zones. The pressure to win a premiership without an asterix will likely be too much this season. Expect to see them in the grand final but narrowly miss the threepeat.
North Berlin Crows
Last Season: 2nd
Key Players: Mitchell New: Mitchell was the Crows first selection in the 2016 draft and he didn’t disappoint. His reading of the game and pin point kicking off the back flank set up most of the Crows attack in 2016. He has come under scrutiny for being an outside player so he will be looking to prove his critics wrong and try to add to his 3 Hard Ball gets from season 2016.
Adrian O’Reilly: Most argue that Adeo saves his best work for AFL grand final day but he also delivers regularly in the Berlin League. A small, round footballer who can play at either end of the field might have lost some of his speed but he sure makes up for it with his football smarts and body positioning. Look for Adeo to mainly play up forward in season 2017.
Prediction: 4th The Crows were flying high at 4-0 in season 2016 and were the self-proclaimed team to beat. In round 5 against the Eagles this confidence took a huge hit with a record breaking 130 point loss. The morale dropped and they could not regroup losing the decider. This expert feels the morale is still low and the word coming out from the North is they are low on numbers which will see them slide to the foot of the table in 2017.
West Berlin Eagles
Last Season: 3rd
Key Players: Alexander Seibert: The Bulgarian plugger has become a mainstay at full forward for the Eagles. He has steadily improved and is now the number 1 power forward in the competition. He kicked bags of 4 or more on 3 occasions last year. Alex’s strength make him hard to beat in 1on1 contests and this coupled with his accurate goal kicking make him a real threat.
Rhys Ironmonger: The number 1 draft pick from season 2016 didn’t take long to show off his ability, pulling in mark of the year within 5 minutes of his debut. Unfortunately for the Eagles and the league he suffered a bad ankle injury sidelining him for the majority of the season. After the greatest off field debut season seen In Berlin Football history, he is back fit and ready to show his wares on the field.
Prediction: 1st The peoples team consistently showed up with over 15 players in season 2016 demonstrating their willingness to bring the game to all corners of Berlin. Numbers are again good in season 2017 and this could finally be the year they win their first premiership.
East Berlin Mariners
Last Season: 4th
Premierships: 2012, 2014
Key Players: Wallace Mcginty: Wallace found his way onto the Mariners list half way through last season but did not have enough time to change the fortunes of the Mariners around. The Mariners have been crying out for a ruckman since club stalwarts Dave Cameron and Jordy Dostel retired. Wallace has the ability to be one of the dominant ruckman in the league and if he and reining German Australian Football Player of the year Luke Edwards can form an understanding, anything might be possible.
Dov Selby: Is one of a handful of players that the Mariners will be hoping to see in the red white and green in 2017. Dov is one of the premiership heroes of the bygone era that the Mariners need to get back on board this season. The two time premiership goal sneak adds experience and leadership to a youthful list.
Prediction: 3rd The Mariners even though they did not win a game last year were very competitive. Expect to see them turn some narrow losses into wins this year in what will be another rebuilding season. The Mariners also have the first draft pick in 2017 and they are in dire need of a key defender to partner Matthew Menneke who was a lone hand down back for the Mariners in 2016.
Berlin League Dates
Round 1: March 25th
Round 2: April 22nd
Round 3: May 6th
Round 4: June 3rd
Round 5: July 15th
Round 6: August 5th
Grand Final: August 12th
The Berlin league is open for anyone to play, whether you are in Berlin for one weekend or if you have never played before we would love to have you out and be apart of our football community. All games are played at Schiller Park in Wedding. We look forward to seeing you sometime this year.