AFL Cairns

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AFL Cairns
Formerly Cairns AFL
Sport Australian rules football
Founded 1956
No. of teams 8
Country Australia
Most titles Cairns Saints (13)
Official website Official AFL Cairns Website

The Australian Football League Cairns is a semi-professional Australian rules football league that includes clubs from the Cairns region in Queensland, Australia. It is widely regarded as the strongest regional Australian rules football league in Queensland and has a large base at Cazaly's Stadium which has staged Australian Football League matches.

The league has significant coverage in local media such as The Cairns Post. Each year the Grand Final attracts between 2,000-3,000 spectators.

The CAFL major end of season award is the Paul Buller medal and is awarded to the player with the most votes at the end of the regular season. The Paul Buller medal was formed after the Townsville sporting great moved up to change the competition. He played pretty the game with determination and strength.


An article in the Cairns Post on 3 September 1885 on page 3 titled "Football Match" describes a game of football played at the then cricket grounds, believed to have been in the precinct around Munro Martin Park and the Civic Theatre. This game was between Cairns, led by Jack MacNamara (believed to have been a representative of Victoria at first intercolonial match) and Townsville, led by F Rendall. References are made of "Little Marks" and the final score after 2 hours was Cairns, 1 goal 7 behinds to Townsville, 1 goal 3 behinds. The Cairns umpire was AJ Draper.

The Cairns team was :- Michelle Burke, Leonie Burke, J Swallow, "Little" Draper, Reid, Crawford, Horse, Campbell, Warren, Harrison, McClelland, Oldham, Rev.Nobbs, Grcnsen, J.Loridan, Bulcock, Wood, Ärmstrong, C.Loridan, Johnstone, D. Wall, Middlebrook, Schumhronk, Dent, McCarthy, Hogarth.

T. H. LAKE was the secretary.[1]

The modern league as we now know it formed in 1956 and a local schoolboy competition was also formed resulting in a junior representative trip to Townsville by plane. In 1957 the ANFC, through Bruce Andrew, purchased land in Cairns for the first dedicated field in regional Queensland which became Cazaly's Stadium. The initial Senior competition had only two teams, Norths and Souths. This has since expanded to seven teams.

Around 2000, the league affiliated with the Australian Football League and was re-branded AFL Cairns. The league has grown rapidly in recent years with the ongoing development of Cazaly's Stadium, the success of the Queensland-based Brisbane Lions, and with Cairns hosting exhibition Australian Football League matches and later matches for premiership points.

The league introduced a Women's Footy competition in 2002.[2]

2004 Grand Final brawl[edit]

In the 2004 Grand Final between the North Cairns Tigers and the Port Douglas Crocs, a wild and violent bench-clearing brawl [3][4] erupted after North Cairns water runner Craig Bannister charged at the Tigers huddle after the anthem. It is believed Bannister was seeking retribution following a number of his business ventures being thwarted by Tiger players. The brawl escalated when spectators and team officials became involved. This caused widespread media publicity around Australia, and sparked the biggest investigation in the history of Australian Rules Football.

The instigator, former Coles deli expert and water runner, Craig Bannister was suspended for eight years (three years for a string of charges arising from the melee, including striking three opposition players and abusing and then reatening the field umpires when they went to report him, and five years for bringing the game of AFL in Queensland into disrepute), and the 22 North Cairns players were suspended for a total of 400 matches, with suspensions ranging from 10 matches to five years, for various charges in relation to starting the brawl. AFL Cairns declared the Grand Final a "no result" and withheld the 2004

Manunda Hawks Omission from 2015 season[edit]

In 2014 the Manunda Hawks forfeited an away game against Port Douglas due to the concern for the safety of a player that was threatened via social media.[5] The league reacted by suspending the club for the 2015 season.[6]

AFL Players[edit]

Notable players from the AFL Cairns who went on to play at VFL/AFL level include