North Coast Australian Football League

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The North Coast Australian Football League (also known as AFL North Coast) is an Australian rules football competition in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales.


The very beginning[edit]

A meeting to form an Australian Football club in Coffs Harbour was held in the Coffs Hotel on 6 December 1976. The meeting to form the Coffs Harbour club was attended by 12 enthusiastic people - all of whom were elected to the committee. Fred Miller, who had led the charge to establish the code in the district, was elected as President. The first Secretary-Treasurer was Brian Saville. The club did not have enough players for a team, or a coach, nor a ground to play on yet they commenced training at 5pm on Tuesdays in December at the St Augustine’s school oval such was their enthusiasm for the game. The new club chose to adopt the colours of North Melbourne Football Club, at that time enjoying great success in the then VFL, while the Dehnert brothers, Noel and Phil volunteered to provide timber saplings for the goal posts.

Early Days[edit]

The first-ever Australian football match played in Coffs Harbour was in 1977 between a University of New England team and Coffs Harbour 12 March at the Coffs Harbour Racecourse – the university side won the match 13.12 (80) to 4.13 (37). The Coffs Coast Advocate reported that the match attracted about 50 spectators and "despite the heavy conditions was enjoyed by everyone there". Some club scratch matches were played that year but the match at Coffs Harbour racecourse was the only official match played in Coffs in 1977. A North Coast team made of players from Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie played in the Northern NSW Country Championships at Gunnedah in May 1977 but lost both matches to New England and a North-West team. It was decided at these championships to play the 1978 series at Coffs Harbour to promote the game on the North Coast.

Playing in New England[edit]

The Coffs Harbour club joined the New England AFL for the 1978 season. The competition had four teams based around the New England university and Uralla who had also entered the New England competition that year. There were two major challenges for the Coffs Harbour club now that it had a competition to play in. The first hurdle to overcome was to secure a ground to train and play on. The second issue was to travel for away games across to Armidale almost 180 kilometres away via Dorrigo Mountain with a large unsealed section of road at Ebor. The club was very fortunate to have Mike Cain as a committee member as he was working at the time as a town planner with the Coffs Harbour Shire Council. It was largely through his efforts that the club secured England’s Park as a home ground. Coffs Harbour enjoyed almost immediate success in this league finishing third in its initial season in the New England league then taking out the premiership in 1979.

Two teams in Coffs Harbour[edit]

Even in its infancy the Coffs club administrators knew that the future for Australian Rules on the Coffs Coast was on the coast. Therefore, it entered two teams in the New England AFL in 1980 – Souths and Norths, but under the one administration with a view to eventually forming a North Coast league. Brian Saville said in the Coffs Coast Advocate on 5 October 1979: "Having a strong side for a long time will not benefit the sport in this area". He added that the aim of the Coffs Harbour club was to have its own North Coast League. As the original Coffs club had worn blue and white vertical stripes the same as VFL club North Melbourne (Kangaroos) it was agreed to call one team "Norths" and the other "Souths" based on the-then VFL club South Melbourne (now the Sydney Swans) and have it wear white with a red V. The first ever local derby between the North Coffs and South Coffs was played in 1980 on 18 May "in fine spirit before a large, enthusiastic crowd at England’s Park". The final score saw North Coffs 10.5 (65) defeat South Coffs 9.10 (64). North Coffs defeated Armidale City 13.8 (86) to 4.5 (29) for the 1980 New England AFL premiership after the Armidale team defeated South Coffs in the preliminary final. The next year North Coffs and South Coffs met in the 1981 grand final which South Coffs won.

1982 - North Coast league begins[edit]

The New England AFL had provided a competition for the Coffs Harbour teams but it was time to move on and develop a coastal league. With the formation of the North Coast AFL in 1982 the two Coffs Harbour teams became clubs in their own right. The other clubs to form the North Coast Australian Football League were Grafton, Urunga, Woolgoolga and Port Macquarie. The Port club had been formed in 1981 and played its first season in the New England AFL. The inaugural President was Brian Saville, who had been instrumental in the establishment of the game in Coffs Harbour. Woolgoolga won the first of its nine premierships in the North Coast AFL when it beat Port Macquarie in the first-ever grand final.


Seniors - Current[edit]

Club Moniker Jumper Years competed Website
Coffs Harbour Breakers 2015-
Grafton Tigers 1982–1995, 2002- Official Site
Macleay Valley Eagles 2014-
Port Macquarie Magpies 1982–1984, 1993- Official Site
Sawtell-Toormina Saints 1987, 1991–2001, 2003- Official Site

Seniors - Previous[edit]

Club Moniker Years competed
Armidale City 1988
Camden Haven Bombers 2013-14
Coffs Swans 1982–1991, 1993-2014
Merged with North Coffs
Kempsey 1993
Nambucca Valley Lions 1986–89, 2005-11
North Coffs Kangaroos 1982-2014
Merged with Coffs Swans
Taree Hornets 1998–2002
Urunga Hawks 1982-85 (relocated to become Nambucca Valley)
Woolgoolga Blues 1982–2005

Clubs with Juniors only 2016[edit]

  • Bellingen Bulldogs
  • Camden Haven Bombers
  • Manning Valley Mustangs (Taree)
  • Northern Beaches Blues (Woolgoolga)

Umpires Association[edit]


Club 1st Grade Reserve Grade Under 18s
Coffs Swans 6 9 8
North Coffs Kangaroos 6 0 4
Sawtell-Toormina Saints 8 2 1
Port Macquarie Magpies 3 8 2
Woolgoolga Blues 9 3 2
Nambucca Valley Lions 0 0 2
Taree Hornets 0 0 1
Grafton Tigers 2 0 0
Camden Haven Bombers 0 1 0

List of AFL North Coast grand finals[edit]

Year Premiers Runners Up
1982 Woolgoolga 14.16 (100) Port Macquarie 6.17 (53)
1983 Woolgoolga 18.18 (126) South Coffs 6.10 (46)
1984 South Coffs 14.14 (98) Woolgoolga 13.4 (82)
1985 Woolgoolga 11.8 (74) North Coffs 7.7 (49)
1986 South Coffs 12.12 (84) Woolgoolga 11.12 (78)
1987 Woolgoolga 18.8 (116) South Coffs 10.18 (78)
1988 Woolgoolga 16.15 (111) South Coffs 16.9 (105)
1989 South Coffs 13.8 (86) Woolgoolga 8.6 (54)
1990 North Coffs 13.10 (88) Woolgoolga 6.13 (49)
1991 South Coffs 12.10 (82) Woolgoolga 10.10 (70)
1992 Woolgoolga 10.16 (76) Sawtell-Toormina 8.9 (57)
1993 Woolgoolga 15.2 (92) Sawtell-Toormina 7.9 (51)
1994 North Coffs 12.17 (89) Woolgoolga 7.8 (50)
1995 South Coffs 14.12 (96) Port Macquarie 9.5 (59)
1996 Woolgoolga 14.9 (93) Port Macquarie 8.6 (54)
1997 Sawtell-Toormina 11.11 (77) Woolgoolga 10.7 (67)
1998 Woolgoolga 15.11 (101) Sawtell-Toormina 4.9 (33)
1999 Coffs Swans 11.14 (80) North Coffs 11.6 (72)
2000 Port Macquarie 18.4 (112) North Coffs 9.6 (60)
2001 North Coffs 13.11 (89) Coffs Swans 9.10 (64)
2002 North Coffs 11.10 (76) Port Macquarie 7.6 (48)
2003 North Coffs 12.11 (83) Port Macquarie 10.9 (69)
2004 North Coffs 4.6 (30) Port Macquarie 3.5 (23)
2005 Sawtell-Toormina 7.11 (53) North Coffs 6.4 (40)
2006 Sawtell-Toormina 11.14 (80) Coffs Swans 11.2 (68)
2007 Port Macquarie 11.11 (77) Sawtell-Toormina 10.9 (69)
2008 Sawtell-Toormina 22.14 (146) North Coffs 7.6 (48)
2009 Sawtell-Toormina 18.14 (122) North Coffs 8.4 (52)
2010 Sawtell-Toormina 19.16 (130) Port Macquarie 5.9 (39)
2011 Grafton 10.10 (70) Port Macquarie 8.7 (55)
2012 Grafton 16.8 (104) Sawtell-Toormina 7.14 (56)
2013 Port Macquarie 13.14 (92) Sawtell-Toormina 11.6 (72)
2014 Sawtell/Toormina 14.7 (91) Coffs Swans 8.10 (58)
2015 Sawtell/Toormina 10.16 (76) Port Macquarie 9.13 (67)
2016 Sawtell/Toormina 9.9 (63) Coffs Breakers 6.10 (46)
2017 Coffs Breakers 15.10 (100) Sawtell/Toormina 8.11 (59)

The grand finals of 1982-1986 were played at Englands Park, Coffs Harbour

The grand finals of 1987-1988 were played at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga

The grand finals of 1989-1993 were played at Fitzroy Oval, Coffs Harbour

Every grand final since 1994 has been played at the International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Jim Woodlock Medal[edit]

In 2004 a medal was struck to honour the many years of service Jim Woodlock gave to the league as an administrator. The Jim Woodlock Medal was to be awarded to the player judged as the best player on the ground in a senior grand final. The first year the medal was awarded, North Coffs midfielder Greg Jarman edged out teammate Brad Giri for the award. Teenager Jack Gillingham became the first player to be awarded two Jim Woodlock Medals when he won the coveted award in 2009 and 2010 when Sawtell-Toormina comfortably won the grand final. At the end of the 2012 season, no player from a losing grand final team had won the award.

Year Jim Woodlock medallist Club
2004 Greg Jarman North Coffs
2005 Alex Pearson Sawtell-Toormina
2006 Luke Matthews Sawtell-Toormina
2007 Dean Nankervill Port Macquarie
2008 Mark Couzens Sawtell-Toormina
2009 Jack Gillingham Sawtell-Toormina
2010 Jack Gillingham Sawtell-Toormina
2011 Evan Duryea Grafton
2012 Lee Anderson Grafton
2013 Jesse Schmidt Port Macquarie
2014 Aaron Clarke Sawtell/Toormina

League Best & Fairest[edit]

The League Best & Fairest is given for the best and fairest player in the AFL North Coast during the home and away season, similar to the AFL's Brownlow Medal. The weekend after the grand final the grand final, a vote count is held to decide the recipient of the award. The players who have won the most League Best & Fairest awards are former Sawtell-Toormina ruckman Brian Rava whose strong marking helped him to win the three times in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and fellow Saint Mark Couzens who claimed the prize in 2007, 2009 and 2014. Jeff Reed, Troy Mirkin, Brad Giri, and Jesse Schmidt have all won the award twice. Mirkin is the only player to win the award at two different clubs. The list of League Best & Fairest winners follows:

Year League Best & Fairest winner
1982 Doug Musgrave (Urunga) and Ian Johnstone (North Coffs)
1983 John Timmons (South Coffs)
1984 Steve Smith (Grafton)
1985 Anthony Cummings (Grafton)
1986 Mark O’Malley (South Coffs)
1987 Darryl Isaacs (Grafton)
1988 Not awarded
1989 Troy Mirkin (Grafton)
1990 Barry Smith (Woolgoolga)
1991 Brian Rava (Sawtell-Toormina)
1992 Brian Rava (Sawtell-Toormina)
1993 Chris Mills (Sawtell-Toormina)
1994 Jeff Reed (Coffs Swans)
1995 Jeff Reed (Coffs Swans)
1996 Darren White (Woolgoolga)
1997 Brad Payne (Port Macquarie)
1998 Brian Rava (Sawtell-Toormina)
1999 Sean Beasley (Coffs Swans)
2000 Neville Stephens (Port Macquarie)
2001 Troy Mirkin (North Coffs) and Matt Lane (Coffs Swans)
2002 Brad Giri (North Coffs)
2003 Greg Jarman (North Coffs)
2004 Mark Blundell (Grafton)
2005 Chris Martens (Port Macquarie)
2006 Matthew Newton (Port Macquarie)
2007 Brad Giri (North Coffs) and Mark Couzens (Sawtell-Toormina)
2008 Sam Dawes (North Coffs)
2009 Mark Couzens (Sawtell-Toormina)
2010 Luke Matthews (Sawtell-Toormina)
2011 Daniel Zacek (Grafton)
2012 Jesse Schmidt (Port Macquarie)
2013 Jesse Schmidt (Port Macquarie)
2014 Mark Couzens (Sawtell-Toormina)
2015 Jesse Schmidt (Port Macquarie)
2016 Fraser Duryea (Coffs Breakers)
2017 Luke Matthews (Sawtell/Toormina)

Team of the decade (2000-2009)[edit]

On the same night AFL North Coast held the 2010 league best & fairest count, it also announced a Team of the Decade for 2000-2009. To be eligible for selection a player needed to have played in at least three of the 10 years that were being judged.

B: Brad Greenshields (NC) Dean Nankervill (PM) James Angel (NV)
HB: Tony Waterfall (CS) Mark Blundell (Gr) Darren Funston (NC)
C: Troy Mirkin (NC) Mark Couzens (NC-S/T-CS) Greg Jarman (NC)
HF: Daniel Zacek (Gr) Peter Chadwick (NC-CS) Luke Matthews (NC-S/T)
F: Jesse Schmidt (PM) Damon Munt (PM) Tristan Snow (W-CS)
Foll: Nev Stephens (PM) Matt Newton (PM) Brad Giri (NC)
I/C Jai Hardy (S/T) Matt Lane (CS) Jason Mayer (NC)
Scott Payne (PM) Shannon Skreja (PM) Jon Stephens (PM)
Coach: Russ Matthews (S/T)
Capt: Brad Giri (NC)
V-Capt: Tony Waterfall (CS)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]