North London Lions
|Full name||North London Lions Australian Football Club|
|Strip||Black & red jumper with gold trim and black & gold lion logo. Black shorts. Black socks with red edging.|
|Sport||Australian rules football|
The Lions in London
The North London Lions are an Aussie Rules Football Club, based in North London and competing in the AFL London competition.
The Lions are one of the largest and strongest Clubs in AFL London. They field three teams in competition on a weekly basis:
- 1st grade (the North London Lions) feature in the AFL London Premiership
- 2nd grade (the Regents Park Lions) feature in the AFL London Conference competition
- 3rd grade(the Bounds Green Lions), also known as our Social team, feature in the AFL London Social competition.
As well as a goal to be consistently competitive on the field, we also take pride in the social side of the Club. With events, trips, and an a calendar that covers all 12 months of the year, the Lions are a home away from home for many Aussies in London, as well as a unique Club and family for an ever increasing number of locals.
In recent years and after a decade of competitive performances that just fell short of the main prize, the North London Lions won the AFL London Premiership in Season 2012 (by 1 point!) while in Season 2013 the Lions narrowly missed out on defending the title when they lost the Grand Final by 10 points.
Joining the Lions
The North London Lions are always seeking new players.
The AFL London season runs from approximately May - August each year. Each Season features 10 rounds of games, followed by 3 weeks of finals football, culminating in the Grand Final. Typically each year the Lions begin preparations in January with pre-season training. Due to the short days at that time of year, we train initially once per week on weekends (in recent years at 11am on Sundays). Training continues once per week until the clocks go forward in mid April, and we shift to training twice per week, on Tues and Thurs evenings. All training sessions are held in Regents Park, in central London. As well as football / skills training, pre season typically includes fitness sessions (boxing, crossfit and running), a boot camp weekend away, pre season games (including local and international games), and many, many trips to the pub.
Everyone is welcome, from those who have played for years back in Australia right through to those completely new to the game. AFL London rules mean each side that takes the field features a mix of Aussie and non-Aussie players, so Brits, Irish, other EU’s and all nationalities are welcome. Because the Lions field 3 teams each week, there are spots available for players of all standards.
Playing Aussie Rules footy in London won’t always be your first priority. Most players juggle work, travel, social commitments, and more. It’s not always possible to make training, and you’ll probably miss a few games along the way too. That's part of footy in London, so don’t let that be the reason that you don’t give it a go. It's also a great way to keep fit, to meet new people, to get out in the sun, and generally to have a great time in London during the Summer.
The Lions were a foundation club of the British Australian Rules Football League, having played in every season since the league began in 1990.
The North London Lions were established in 1990, and enjoyed a successful first Season, narrowly missing the finals despite being very competitive. The Club played out of Enfield, in North London, and off the field quickly built a reputation as a very social Club (including a Club band playing gigs, under the name North London Trash). In setting up the Club, rather than copying the set up of an existing AFL club, the founding members decided to do something unique and so deliberately chose a jumper design from one Club, a song from another, and an emblem from yet another. Hence the Club was known as the Lions, took the field in a red and black jumper similar to Essendon, and sung a version of the Melbourne club song.
The 90's was a period of growth and consolidation for the Lions. Despite never quite making it to win a Grand Final, the Lions were consistently competitive on the field. Home games were played at Hendon Rugby Club initially, before a move to Mill Hill Rugby Club in 1994. The Club grew slowly but steadily across this decade. In 1997 another founding Club the Lea Valley Saints folded, however a number of their players chose to join the North London Lions. 1998 saw the Club training for the first time in Regents Park (as well as playing home games at Turnpike Lane), and the Lions have been a feature at Regents Park ever since.
The arrival of a new century saw a significant turn of fortune for the Lions also. As well as training in Regents Park, the Lions were able to secure a playing ground in Regents Park also. Player numbers continued to grow, and 2001 was a big year for the Club as 1st grade finally made the Grand Final versus Wimbledon. While things looked bad early on, and the Lions hadn't scored a goal by half time, a huge turnaround in the second half saw the Lions storm home to the win. In 2002 the Lions decided to enter a 2nd team in the newly formed Conference competition. The Regents Park Lions were an instant hit, and having gone through the Season undefeated were unlucky to lose the Grand Final by 2 points. However the Lions went back to back in the Premiership, as a very strong North London side was never troubled and ran out winners by 66 points over the West London Wildcats.
2005 saw the Lions playing home games at a new ground in East Ham, while 2007 saw another new home ground as the Lions arrived at their current long-term home ground at Bounds Green. 2008 also saw the introduction of a 3rd Lions team, the Bounds Green Lions in the AFL London Social competition.
The Lions have been regular participants in finals football at all 3 levels in AFL London in recent years. Despite coming very close on repeated occasions, the Lions didn't feature in Grand Finals until 2012, when the Premiership team finally took home the big prize again, with a 1 point win over the fast finishing Wandsworth Demons (in a nail biting finish, the Lions held onto a 1 point lead for the final 6 minutes of the game, despite the Demons attacking constantly). In the 2012 Conference Grand Final, the Lions were unlucky to go down by 2 points, having stormed back from a 5 goal deficit at the beginning of the final quarter. Other notable events in 2012 included hosting the preliminary and semi finals at our home ground in Bounds Green.
Today the Lions continue with the Club traditions that started back in 1990. The Club continues to grow and promote the sport of Aussie Rules football, without being tied to a particular AFL club. Today the 3 Lions teams play in unique Lions kit that isn't used anywhere else in the world (various versions of red and black - with gold also now incorporated to avoid clashes with other London Clubs). Footy on the field is taken seriously, while socialising and life off the field in London is equally serious. in 2013 the Lions will train at Regents Park for the 15th year in succession, and play home games at Albert Road Rec in Bounds Green for the 6th year running.
|SEASON||COACH||CAPTAIN||BEST & FAIREST||BEST ROW / GB / EU||GOAL KICKING|
|2013||Brendan McGeever||Luke Stevenson||TBC||TBC||TBC|
|2012||Adam Littlechild||Courtney Shergold||Dean Ipaviz||Jason Rand||Quentin Keeble|
International tour matches
Each year during pre season, the Lions have travelled around Europe for a pre-season tour match, both as game practice prior to the Season start, and also to spread the good word of Aussie Rules Football. Destinations include:
- April 1992 North London v Denmark
- April 1999 North London v Belfast (First known official game of Aussie Rules in Northern Ireland)
- April 2001 North London v Arhus, Denmark
- April 2002 North London v Dublin
- April 2003 North London v Germany
- April 2004 Sweden d North London
- April 2005 North London v Madrid Bears
- March 2006 North London v Strasbourg Black Devils
- May 2007 North London competed in the Haggis Cup in Glasgow, against teams from Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Brussels and Strasbourg.
- April 2008 North London v Berlin Crocodiles
- April 2009 North London v Paris Cockerels
- April 2010 North London v Rheinland Lions
- April 2011 North London v North Copenhagen Barracudas
- April 2012 North London v Solna Axmen, Stockholm (cancelled due to snow)