ACT Gridiron

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ACT Gridiron
ACT Gridiron Logo.png
Sport Gridiron
Founded 1993
Inaugural season 1993
President Cody Field
No. of teams 6
Country  Australia
Venue(s) Greenway Oval
Gungahlin Oval
Griffith Park
Most recent
UC Firebirds
Most titles UC Firebirds
Level on pyramid Seniors
Domestic cup(s) Capital Bowl
Official website

ACT Gridiron or ACTG is the governing body for gridiron (American football) in the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. ACT Gridiron currently has six teams. The season culminates with the grand final, known as the Capital Bowl.

Gridiron in the ACT began in 1990 with the formation of the Canberra Sabretooths Gridiron Club. In that year the Sabretooths played a number of full contact games against NSW gridiron teams before entering the NSW competition in 1991. The club played three seasons as members of the NSW League, winning the championship in 1994, their last year in the competition. The ACT Gridiron League was formed in 1993 with five teams competing for the Capital Bowl trophy.

The original senior teams were: the Belconnen Thunderbolts, the Tuggeranong Tornadoes, the University of Canberra Firebirds, the Tidbinbilla Space Cadets and the Queanbeyan Wolverines.

The Tuggeranong Tornadoes and the University of Canberra Firebirds are the only two original teams still in the competition, although the Firebirds did not enter a team in the 1996 competition.

After the NSW championship-winning season in 1994, the Sabretooths folded. A number of players joined with the remaining members of the Belconnen Thunderbolts and Tidbinbilla Space Cadets to form the Canberra Tigers, who won Capital Bowl III in the club’s inaugural season.

A number of ex-Sabretooths went on to form the ACT Astros to continue an involvement in the NSW competition. The Astros had great success in the NSW League, winning one title in 1996 from appearances in four grand finals. In 2001, the ACT Astros were renamed the Astros and entered the ACT Competition after withdrawing from the NSWGFL, replacing the Canberra Tigers side which folded after the 2000 season. The Astros experienced immediate success, winning championships in each of their first four seasons and compiling a 28-1 record between 2001 and 2003. After losing Capital Bowl XIII in 2005, a number of key players retired. A lack of juniors coming through the ranks contributed to a poor run of form, which ended when the club effectively ceased operation following the 2011 season. The foundation Queanbeyan Wolverines folded mid-way through the 1998 season, but another Queanbeyan-based team – named the Warriors – formed in 2000. After experiencing early success by making the playoffs in the club’s first three years (including a Capital Bowl appearance in 2001), the Warriors folded early in the 2005 season.

ACT Gridiron welcomed two expansion teams in 2007 with the formation of the Centurions and the Gladiators. The Centurions were based in Canberra’s central and eastern suburbs and established by Tuggeranong Tornadoes founder John Crispin, who coached the Tornadoes to four Capital Bowl triumphs. The Gladiators began training in the Woden Valley and Kambah area and were coached by Mike Whitesell, who was in charge of the Astros team that won the 1996 NSW league championship. A further addition was made in 2009, with the Gungahlin Wildcats incorporated to begin play in 2010. Based in Canberra's expanding northern suburbs, the Wildcats were founded by former Australian junior coach and two-time ACT Gridiron Coach of the Year John Ludvigson, with the assistance of Jim Smith. The Central Spears began play in 2012, effectively taking over the operation of the Astros club that was scheduled to fold. However, no Astros were part of the Spears' management, coaches and players. The Spears won the ACT Gridiron championship in their first year of existence.[1]

Five teams have recorded a perfect season to win a championship: the Firebirds in 1994, the Tornadoes in 1998, the Astros in 2001 and 2003 and the Firebirds again in 2006. The 1993 Tidbinbilla Space Cadets won eight games and tied one on their way to the championship. Two teams – the Firebirds in 2000 and the Astros in 2005 – have finished the regular season undefeated but lost the Capital Bowl.

The ACT Representative team is the ACT Monarchs. The Monarchs have played representative teams from NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia since 1996. They participated in the 1996 National Championships in Canberra, the 1998 Gridiron Australia National Challenge in Sydney, the 1999 Gridiron Australia Eastern Regional Championships in Sydney as well as the 2001 and 2003 Gridiron Australia National Championships in Canberra and Adelaide, respectively. After a seven-year absence, the Monarchs returned to interstate competition at the 2010 National Championships in Melbourne. The Monarchs posted their first-ever victories at the 2001 Championships, defeating Victoria in the second round and South Australia in the third place playoff. The 2010 Monarchs defeated Queensland 12-9 in a pool game, before losing to Western Australia in the third-place playoff game.

The first season of Junior Gridiron in the ACT was played in 1991. At one stage there were as many as nine Junior teams playing in the local competition which was divided into two divisions - High School (ages 14–16) and College (ages 16–18). The current Junior competition is contested in one division by players 18 years old or younger.

In 1999 the junior Monarchs became the first ACT team (senior or junior) to taste victory at representative level by winning both games of a two-match series against NSW. In 2006 the Junior Monarchs finished second at the National Championships on the Gold Coast, losing only to the Queensland Sundevils, which won the tournament, in overtime. At the 2007 National Championships, the Junior Monarchs finished third overall.[2]

League members[edit]

Capital Bowl winners[edit]

Year Winning team Runners-up Score MVP Winning coach
2016 University of Canberra Firebirds Central Spears 34-14 Nathan Long
2015 Central Spears University of Canberra Firebirds 28-27 Jason Swain (CS) - WR Tim Macarthur
2014 Central Spears University of Canberra Firebirds 46-7 Jason Swain (CS) - WR Tim Macarthur
2013 Central Spears Tuggeranong Tornadoes 36-0 Joseph Taula (CS) - QB/LB Tim Macarthur
2012 Central Spears University of Canberra Firebirds 26-0 Joseph Taula (CS) - QB/LB Tim Macarthur
2011 University of Canberra Firebirds Gungahlin Wildcats 18-12 Ian Lanham (UC) - RB/FS Shawn Willis
2010 University of Canberra Firebirds Woden Valley Gladiators 28-11 Jeremy Milne (UC) - RB Shawn Willis
2009 Woden Valley Gladiators Tuggeranong Tornadoes 29-22 Tim Macarthur (WVG) - RB/FS Andrew Old
2008 University of Canberra Firebirds Tuggeranong Tornadoes 21-6 Luke Kominek (UC) - QB Shawn Willis
2007 University of Canberra Firebirds Tuggeranong Tornadoes 12-6 (2OT) Phil Fooks (TT) - RB Shawn Willis
2006 University of Canberra Firebirds Tuggeranong Tornadoes 19-7 Travis Ford (UC) - RB/MLB Shawn Willis
2005 University of Canberra Firebirds Astros 15-14 (OT) Travis Ford (UC) - RB/MLB Shawn Willis
2004 Astros University of Canberra Firebirds 20-15 Jaron Worsley (As) - RB/LB Steve Kerr
2003 Astros Tuggeranong Tornadoes 41-20 Steve Kerr (As) - RB Carlos Amponin
2002 Astros University of Canberra Firebirds 21-10 Michael Mau'u (As) - QB/ILB Rob Bourke
2001 Astros Queanbeyan Warriors 45-0 Steve Kerr (As) - QB John Roe
2000 Tuggeranong Tornadoes University of Canberra Firebirds 10-7 Cameron Dickson (TT) - DE/K John Crispin
1999 Canberra Tigers Tuggeranong Tornadoes 25-8 Steve Hoppitt (CT) - G/DT Craig Simmons
1998 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Canberra Tigers 20-12 John Crispin
1997 Tuggeranong Tornadoes University of Canberra Firebirds 14-6 John Crispin
1996 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Canberra Tigers 14-6 John Crispin
1995 Canberra Tigers Queanbeyan Wolverines 14-13 Roger Vann
1994 University of Canberra Firebirds Belconnen Thunderbolts 28-0 John Etminan
1993 Tidbinbilla Space Cadets Belconnen Thunderbolts 12-6 (OT) Buck Armstrong (TSC) Michael Whitesell

Charity Bowl winners[edit]

Since 1994, the first game of the ACTGL Senior season has been given the title of the Charity Bowl with funds raised on the day going to local charities. Since 1998, all funds have been donated to the ACT Cancer Society in memory of Shane Gray, a founding member, former player and official of the ACT Gridiron League who died of cancer in 1996. The winning side receives the Charity Shield, a perpetual trophy donated by former ACT Chief Minister and ACT Gridiron patron Trevor Kaine.

The first Charity Bowl was played between the Tuggeranong Tornadoes and the Queanbeyan Wolverines. Since then, the game has been scheduled between the holders of the Charity Shield and the defending Capital Bowl champions. If one team holds both trophies, the opponent is the team which lost the Capital Bowl the previous year.

Year Team
2016 University of Canberra Firebirds
2015 Central Spears
2014 Central Spears
2013 Central Spears
2012 University of Canberra Firebirds
2011 University of Canberra Firebirds
2010 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
2009 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
2008 University of Canberra Firebirds
2007 University of Canberra Firebirds
2006 University of Canberra Firebirds
2005 Astros
2004 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
2003 Astros
2002 Astros
2001 University of Canberra Firebirds
2000 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1999 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1998 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1997 Canberra Tigers
1996 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1995 Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1994 Tuggeranong Tornadoes

ACTG Junior Champions[edit]

Year Team Winning coach
2016 University of Canberra Firebirds Josh Catanzariti
2015 University of Canberra Firebirds Jason Ray
2014 University of Canberra Firebirds Jason Ray
2013 University of Canberra Firebirds Jason Ray
2012 Central Spears Tim Macarthur
2011 Centurions Alex Westcombe
2010 Centurions Peter Lilley
2009 Centurions Peter Lilley
2008 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Lyle Cameron
2007 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Lyle Cameron
2006 University of Canberra Firebirds Shawn Willis
2005 University of Canberra Firebirds Chris Czerny
2004 University of Canberra Firebirds Luke Plunkett
2003 Erindale Titans Shane Dixon
2002 No competition
2001 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Justin Watson
2000 University of Canberra Firebirds Rob Bourke
1999 University of Canberra Rockets Nathan Long
1998 No competition
1997 University of Canberra Firebirds Simon Clancy
1996 University of Canberra Firebirds Simon Clancy
Year College Division High School Division
1995 Tuggeranong Tornadoes Kambah Kestrels
1994 Weston Creek Buccaneers Tuggeranong Tornadoes
1993 Queanbeyan Eagles Weston Creek Buccaneers
1992 Tuggeranong Falcons Queanbeyan Knights
Year Team
1991 Marist Razorbacks
1990 Marist Razorbacks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Canberra Times, 18 November 2012[1]
  2. ^ History page []

External links[edit]