Australian News

In 1985, a third of the UK’s population stopped to watch the World Snooker Championship Final

Picture the scene.

It’s just gone midnight on a Sunday night. There’s work tomorrow. School. You should be in bed.

Instead, you — along with 18.5 million other people around the country — cannot drag yourself away from your TV.

On the box is playing the 1985 World Championships Snooker final between reigning champion Steve Davis and outside-shot Dennis Taylor, a match that has gone down as being one of Britain’s greatest sporting moments.

Snooker’s appeal

At its best, snooker is an addictive, geometric dance of balletic precision, featuring expert cueing and tactical nous.

The sport’s flagship event, the World Championships, got underway in Sheffield this weekend and in doing so became one of the first events to welcome back crowds in England since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Snooker has been a bastion of British sporting television since the championships moved to the Crucible Theatre in 1977.

In 1985 though, the sport was the hottest ticket in town, so much so the World Championships final became one of the most watched sporting events in British television history — with millions tuning in to the closing stages after midnight.

Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor smile and pose next to a silver trophy
Steve Davis (left) is frequently made to relive his dramatic defeat in exhibition rematches.(Reuters/Action Images: Andrew Boyers)

Snooker was big business throughout the 80s, pulling massive TV audiences and making genuine stars of the top players.

In an interview with the BBC, Taylor remembers snooker being “bigger than any other sport, even football and golf” in the mid-80s, with the players becoming household names — even featuring in pop songs of dubious provenance.

The reason for this was circumstance and visibility.

“There was only four channels, something like that, to watch,” Taylor said, “so everyone seemed to watch [snooker].”

Davis went even further, describing snooker’s popularity during that era as “stupid”.

“[There was] a trapped audience, nobody had anything to do on a Sunday evening, Sunday afternoon, [so] they sat and watched the snooker.

What was the 1985 final so enthralling?

The enduring appeal of the 1985 final comes from the myriad of storylines that developed during its playing.

The 11th seed and clear underdog, Taylor — complete with a unique set of glasses that left you in no doubt which decade you were in — found himself 8-0 down in the blink of an eye as Davis, who would win six World Championships in nine years during the 80s, dominated.

Dennis Taylor stands and looks at the table
Dennis Taylor peers at the table through his so-very 80s glasses.(Supplied: BBC Sport)

However, a missed green in the ninth frame handed Taylor an opening and, buoyed by the fervent support of a crowd desperate for more action, fought back strongly.

Over two gruelling days’ play, the pair traded blows, sending the match into a deciding, 35th frame.

That final frame took over an hour to complete — 68 minutes of the most gruelling, high-pressure sporting action you can imagine — the enthralled audience at home and in the room seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sunday had turned into Monday.

Later, Davis described the final frame as “a trauma” — and not just because of how it ended for him, but for how much pressure the players were under.

“Nerves have now taken over,” said BBC commentator Ted Lowe when Davis missed a regulation blue mid-way through that marathon final frame, a miss typical of the contest in the closing stages.

Steve Davis leans back in his chair and looks up at the ceiling.
The final frame took a toll on both players.(Supplied: BBC Sport)

Incredibly, after 14 hours and 50 minutes of game time, the match came down to the final ball of the final frame — the only time this has happened in World Snooker history.

After potting the pink, Taylor, now trailing in the final frame by just three points, went over to the World Championship trophy and prayed in an attempt to summon some last-minute divine inspiration.

The final ball created drama though, with both players missing their mark amidst the suffocating tension.

An attempted double in off the cushion from Taylor missed the centre pocket by millimetres, Lowe muttering, “I have never known an atmosphere like this,” as the crowd struggled to contain themselves.

Taylor appeared to throw caution to the wind, attempting outlandish shots as playing safely was put on the backburner.

Leaving a tough, but gettable pot to win, Taylor’s chance appeared to have gone, only for Davis to fluff his lines.

“No,” a surprised Lowe said, the crowd roaring for the penultimate time as Taylor was left with a straight-forward pot to finish the match.

Taylor did sink the black, prompting an eruption of unbridled joy from the enraptured crowd.

The then-36-year-old brandished his cue above his head, before wagging a knowing finger at his supporters and kissing the most coveted trophy in the sport.

Will there ever be a communal viewing experience like that again?

The Black Ball Final is still the most watched post-midnight program of any show in UK television history.

That 18.5 million was a third of the United Kingdom’s population at the time.

To put those viewing figures into some perspective, the 1985 Live Aid concert — a once-in-a-lifetime event that took place throughout an afternoon — earned the BBC a TV audience of 24.5 million.

Admittedly a similar percentage of the population watched England’s 2016 World Cup defeat to Croatia, which was the highest rating British TV program in 2018 — but that happened in prime time, not after midnight.

In contrast, the highest rating Australian sporting event on TV in 2018, game one of State of Origin, was watched by just 13 per cent of the population.

Both players said that it was unlikely anything like that would ever happen again.

Steve Davis sits and looks to his left with a bemused look on his face
Steve Davis won a record 81 professional titles, including six World Championships, but the one he lost is what he is most famous for.(Supplied: BBC Sport)

“I think it’s because of the choice nowadays.” Taylor told the BBC.

“When you think of the viewing figures they used to get … nowadays you get four or five million people tuning in for any sporting event it’s big numbers because of the choice that people have.”

Davis argued the same, saying that there is too much choice now.

“That can’t necessarily happen again anywhere now that there are multiple television channels.”

An unmatched viewing experience

That people are still talking about that match in such reverent tones 35 years on speaks volumes of snooker’s enduring, albeit slightly nostalgic appeal.

Dennis Taylor smiles and waves his right hand above his head as Steve Davis stands in the background
Snooker has not hit the heights of the 1985 final since, with rematch exhibitions still popular.(Action Images: Andrew Boyers)

In an era where you can watch everything from wood chopping to competitive pizza tossing on ESPN (yes, really), it’s perhaps not surprising that the game’s grip on the public consciousness has slipped ever so slightly.

“[Snooker] was ideally placed as great theatre,” Davis said.

Ideal lockdown-viewing, perhaps.

That the World Championships is being used as a guinea pig for fans to attend the UK’s sporting COVID-19 recovery is perhaps incongruous considering its history as a television product.

Five-time World Champion, the enigmatic Ronnie O’Sullivan, is not a fan of fans being allowed in.

“I just think it’s an unnecessary risk [to have spectators].

Ronnie O'Sullivan uses the rest to play a shot, leaning over a green snooker table
Ronnie O’Sullivan has been one of the most exciting players on the tour in recent years.(Action Images: Rebecca Naden)

“I just don’t think you want to be putting people’s lives at risk. You look at the NHS and you think ‘this is like a war at the moment … anything to take the stress off them is paramount’.”

But with attendances capped at a third of capacity, just 300 fans, the vast majority will, once again, be glued to their screens instead.

And, in the chastened circumstances the world finds itself in at the present time, that may be no bad thing, although the likelihood of any match this year matching the interest of that 1985 final is remote.

Davis, who would go on to win the next two World Championship titles and become known as one of the greatest of all time, said the contest helped define him.

“The fact that I was involved in something where so many people remember what they were doing and where they were when they were watching it, you know, wow.”

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Australian News

How to watch, what he will cover

Broadcaster Alan Jones, one of the most successful and powerful figures on the AM dial, has turned off his radio forever.

Since retiring in May, after dominating the Sydney airwaves for most of his 35 years on air, Jones said he misses nothing about the life that once consumed his days and nights.

“I don’t mean to be unkind to the medium which has been very kind to me, but I don’t miss anything,” Jones said.

“I have a philosophy; when the curtain goes down, you get off the stage. I drew the curtain down, and it’s important for those who have replaced me, be allowed space and clean air to get on with their job, and me to get on with my next job.

“I haven’t listened to radio (since retiring), but I never listened to radio. I was preoccupied with what I was doing. I never sat down and listened to what other people were doing. I haven’t listened to any of it since I left because I’ve got other things to do. I’m still busy.”

Soon after signing off from 2GB, Jones announced he will anchor a prime time show on Sky News, airing four nights a week from Monday to Thursday, premiering on July 6.

Jones, who is also a columnist at The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, has been part of the Sky News team since 2014.

“It will be different, it will be pacy, and we won’t be running single issue programs,” he said of his eponymous Sky News show.

“I’ll be trying to speak to people who complement across many fields whether it be politics, entertainment, sport or whatever.

“The big issue, allegedly, is we’re going to spend a whole fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars dealing with foreign threats. I mean, who are fighting? That’s not the stuff people are talking about. They’re worried about the fact they’ve got no mobile phone reach when they’re only 40 minutes out of the city, they’re worried that when September comes, and JobKeeper and JobSeeker is not there, how are they going to manage?”

Jones said he sees little difference between presenting a show on television versus radio.

“You can only succeed, or paradoxically fail, if the content is crook. Content is king,” he said.

“For example, if I want to talk about the government in Vanuatu for 20 minutes, I’m not entitled to believe anyone will listen because you’ve made a wrong judgment about content. Equally, if I want to talk to Josh Frydenberg for 20 minutes, people will say fine, but is it worth 20 minutes? You’ve got to make judgments about it all the time.”

Earlier this year, Jones, 79, was forced to make a hard decision about his radio show, after doctors said the relentless workload was not good for his health.

“I’ve only got myself to blame. At the end of the day, I didn’t have two minutes to myself,” Jones says.

“The doctors have been telling me for ages – not that I’m about to fall over – but I’ve had lots of things wrong with me. Well, I had nothing wrong with me before 2006,” Jones says. “My first involvement with cancer was when a horse (he co-owned, Miss Finland) won the Golden Slipper, and I was in hospital watching it happen.

“Since then I’ve had all sorts of problems. For me, not having to get up at 2.30am or 6.30am is a bit of a holiday. “

That said, Jones is wide awake on issues of the day, and not short of opinions on wide-ranging topics including COVID-19 (“The media, along with politicians, have really hyped this thing up to the point where people are terrified”), social media (“We’ve got platforms that are just out of control, and this is immensely damaging to people … their emotions, psychological wellbeing, and sometimes, their reputation”) and the demise of larrikinism (“The larrikin is the quintessential Australian spirit, taking the mickey out of one another. And we’ve stopped people from doing this.”)


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His success, as a powerful and influential media figure, has come at a price. But Jones, the son of a farmer and schoolteacher, won’t complain.

“You do become a prisoner of the load that you take on because you can’t have success without a lot of hard work, a lot of homework and a lot of input,” he says.

“But I never think like that. I’m privileged to be given the opportunities I’ve had … to be able to help people, and provide a voice to people who are by and large voiceless. That particularly applies to the bush.

“It’s important in life to not forget where you’ve come from. I came from a simple dairy family. They had no money and I never forget that. I can identify with people who are struggling. My parents died without ever having a holiday,” Jones says.

“As you go further, you sacrifice certain freedoms because they boo you here, and cheer you there. But that comes with the territory, and I don’t think we’re entitled to complain.”

He doesn’t regret, either, not finding a partner or having kids.

“The older you get, the less time you’ve got, and the less ability you’ve got to commit,” he says. “You can’t live your life in regret. You should be grateful for the achievements you’ve been allowed to enjoy. That’s the way I approach my life. I don’t go out there and whinge about what I might have missed out on, and what might have been denied to me.”

Asked about the future, and the road in front of him, Jones says he’s not thinking beyond his first show for Sky News.

“To me, the road ahead is Monday night’s show,” Jones says. “I say to people, ‘Forget this early retirement nonsense … because I think you need intellectual rigour in your life. I’d be bored if I didn’t have an intellectual challenge, and that is why I do what I do.”

Alan Jones premieres on July 6 at 8pm on Sky News on Foxtel and regional free-to-air news channel Sky News on WIN.

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Watch Sony’s PS5 event with us live from 3:40PM ET

It’s game time. Sony is set to reveal the first batch of games for the PlayStation 5 in a live, online event beginning at 4PM ET today, and you can watch along with us right here. Engadget Senior Editor Nick Summers and myself are hosting a little watch party for today’s show, and we’ll go live at 3:40PM ET. We’ll stick around for a few minutes afterward to recap all of the amazing, boring and confusing things we saw.

Sony promises a look at titles from small and large studios, and suggests viewers use headphones, rather than relying on built-in speakers. This could mean we’ll get a taste of Sony’s 3D audio technology.

Note that Sony is capping today’s stream at 1080p and 30FPS, but the PS5 will be capable of hitting 4K.

There are no confirmed games appearing in today’s show, but there is plenty of room for speculation. Sony subsidiary Guerrilla Games has been fairly quiet since the launch of Horizon Zero Dawn in 2017, and SIE Japan Studio is supposedly working with Shadow of the Colossus developer Bluepoint Games on a remaster in the Bloodborne or Demon’s Souls series. There are also rumors about Resident Evil 8 making an appearance, though as always, that might just be wishful thinking.

The only way to find out is to watch (with us).

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 support pages briefly appear, hinting imminent unveil


sanshiro, 8 hours agoI have the Samsung Watch Active 2 and I am not that satisfied.

-It’s quite laggy as you scr… more
You have a faulty electronic device and your idea on how to get it fixed is to s— post on a gadget blog? Why do I have a hard time believing you?


GrandioseG, 5 hours agoI have a gear s3 and I am super happy with it. Battery life isn’t the issue, you don’t wear a … moreI’m still enjoying my Gear S3 as well, never had issues with battery life. I had to rely in it’s power saving mode for a couple of days and is amazing how long 2 ~ 3% battery can last.


Gorilla Glass “XD”… Okay then 😀


sanshiro, 8 hours agoI have the Samsung Watch Active 2 and I am not that satisfied.

-It’s quite laggy as you scr… more
You might want to try refreshing/RMA your watch. Mine doesn’t lag and it heartrate monitor works properly even while jogging. The only gripe I have is the ECG feature that they said they’ll provide by March but never got to release.


  • GrandioseG
  • ixj

Anonymous, 8 hours agoI guess for you it doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t buy it, I already have a mi band 4. Othe… moreI have a gear s3 and I am super happy with it. Battery life isn’t the issue, you don’t wear a watch when you just put it on the wireless charger that comes with it. I’ve had the watch for a few years and never run ot of battery.


Anonymous, 8 hours agoI guess for you it doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t buy it, I already have a mi band 4. Othe… moreI dont think you know the difference between a smartwatch and a smartband. Galaxy Smartwatches cannot be compared to the Cheap MI smartbands. Compare Galaxy Fit/ Fit e with the MI Bands for a more relevant comparison.


sanshiro, 8 hours agoI have the Samsung Watch Active 2 and I am not that satisfied.

-It’s quite laggy as you scr… more
I have galaxy watch and its great.I never have lag on it. And it is quite smooth. The only problem was its price 350 $. I prefer the phisical rotating dial instead of the touch screen one because it gives the fealing of an rudged watch.


Expected release 5 august? That’s not far away 🙂


  • Anonymous
  • 6s$

sanshiro, 8 hours agoI have the Samsung Watch Active 2 and I am not that satisfied.

-It’s quite laggy as you scr… more
I guess for you it doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t buy it, I already have a mi band 4. Other features like lte and phone calls are just a gimmick for me. Plus the 1-2 days of battery life is a joke.


I have the Samsung Watch Active 2 and I am not that satisfied.

-It’s quite laggy as you scroll

-It crashes sometimes

-The heart monitor is not reliable, especially during movement and exercise of any kind. I guess it briefly loses touch with the skin and can’t measure correctly. To wear the watch tight in order to prevent that from happening is really uncomfortable as you exercise.

-Promised key-features are missing although the watch is equipped with sensors. I doubt they will work reliably.

-I don’t interact that much with the watch for its smart-watch capabilities. Samsung Pay is not available in my region (Germany), What’sApp messages are just for reading, texting is bothersome, you can’t hear voice messages.

If they decide to keep the same design, I’m not going to buy it. Secondly, all these fit-watches are at the right track but need another 2 years to perfect it. Can you wait that long ? They will also be very expensive, think of the price of an iPhone nowadays for just a fit-watch.

Peoples’ salaries don’t get increased that fast or that much, unless you have a senior management position or are a doctor.

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No MicroLED for Apple Watch Series 6, device retains OLED features

No MicroLED for Apple Watch Series 6, launches with OLED, leak says

Apple Watch will continue to use OLED and will push back the MicroLED on its next batch of release.

A leak revealed that the Apple Watch Series 6 will not come with MicroLED. Instead, the upcoming smartwatch from Apple will continue using the OLED.

Leak reveals Apple Watch Series 6 display

A post by a known leaker with the Twitter handler @L0vetodream gave its followers a preview on what the tech giant has for Apple Watch customers. The Twitter post surfaced online this weekend.

On the said Twitter update the leaker said that in a dream he saw that Apple Watch Series 6. He added that the upcoming smartwatch will continue to use the JDI display.

JDI is Apple’s OLED display supplier for the past two years. It started supplying for Apple Watch models and progressed its business with the tech giant as time went on.

Apple even invested $200 million to the OLED maker to sustain its operations. This was in anticipation of larger OLED display orders as iPhones are now using the mentioned display as well.

The leak put a lot of speculations about the Apple Watch Series 6 to an end. It halted the rumor that the smartwatch will feature MicroLED display.

Apple has been using the OLED screen for Apple Watch since 2014. The tech giant decided to use the said technology for iPhone X in 2017.

Users observed Apple to use a certain pattern in its screen technology implementation. They now anticipate that the newest display technology will launch at the smartwatch first.

Reports say that since 2017, Apple tested the MicroLED screen on the Apple Watch. Rumors then spread that the Apple Watch Series 6 could be Apple’s pioneer in using the said screen technology.

Apple’s secret MicroLED manufacturing facility

The rumor began after news about Apple’s secret manufacturing facility spread online. The tech giant reportedly has a hidden facility in Santa Clara, California.

Reports say that the hidden facility was Apple’s designing and production site. The site was specifically intended for devices that use MicroLED.

MicroLED is the upcoming technology from Apple that succeed in the present OLED screens. It is expected to have low power consumption and will provide devices with brighter yet slimmer displays.

Since the news about the Apple Watch Series 6 spread, speculations went on that the smartwatch will come with a MicroLED screen. This is because of the reports that the upcoming watch will be loaded with innovations.

Among the expected features to come along Apple Watch Series 6 is the better water resistance and faster performance. It is also anticipated to come with faster cellular and Wi-Fi speed due to its improved wireless transmission.

Image courtesy of Alan Huang/Flickr

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Australian News

Danish football resumes after coronavirus shutdown in empty stadiums, but fans use a ‘Zoom wall’ to watch games

As professional football returned to Denmark, fans used Zoom to be part of the action.

Thousands of fans logged into the video-conferencing software on Thursday evening and were transported into the Ceres Park stadium for a league game between AGF Aarhus and Randers that heralded the resumption of the country’s pandemic-affected season.

While the stadium itself was without fans, the faces of thousands of supporters who joined the Zoom call were shown on giant screens along one side of the field.

Families wearing club shirts and scarves cheered inside their living rooms. Some were seen clenching their fists in joy after Simon Piesinger scored with a lob from more than 35 metres out to put Randers, the visiting team, ahead in the 36th minute.

Aarhus equalised in stoppage minute and the game finished 1-1.

Ahead of the game, Aarhus described the ‘Zoom wall’ as the world’s first “virtual grandstand.”

Crowd noise was piped in for the match and there were cardboard “spectators” in place in the stands.

A group of TV screens at a ground show fans remote-watching a Danish football game.
Danish football is being played behind closed doors — but that isn’t stopping fans making their presence felt.(AP/Ritzau Scanpix: Henning Bagger)

Games are being played without spectators in Denmark, like in other countries, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Danish Superliga has been suspended since March .

FC Midtjylland, the league leader, plays its first game back on Saturday at home against AC Horsens and is planning a “drive-in” where at least 2,000 supporters can watch the game from inside their cars outside the team’s ground.

Giant screens have been installed in the stadium’s parking lot and footage of the fans in their cars is set to be screened inside the arena.



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Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch seems to be getting ready for release

We have been following the development of Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch ever since we revealed four months ago that Samsung has a new smartwatch in the pipeline. The company hasn’t confirmed at this point in time when it’s going to release the device, but it appears that the new Galaxy Watch may not be that far off.

The new Galaxy Watch has picked up a key certification in China. This is usually a strong indication that the launch is not that far off. Given Samsung is due to launch new products in a couple of months, it would make sense for the smartwatch to be launched around that time.

New Galaxy Watch certified in China

We already know more than a few details about the upcoming smartwatch. It will have double the storage than that of its predecessors at 8GB across all models. We have also exclusively revealed that this will be the first smartwatch that Samsung offers in Titanium.

The upcoming Galaxy Watch bears model numbers SM-R840/845 and SM-R850/855. It will be available in two different sizes in addition to Wi-Fi and LTE variants. There are no signs as yet to suggest that these might be 5G-enabled.

As evident from the screenshot below, the SM-R840 and SM-R850 have both received their 3C or Compulsory Certification of China. This is required for products imported and sold in the country.

Such certifications are normally a good indication of an impending launch. With Samsung gearing up to launch the Galaxy Note 20 and the Galaxy Fold 2 in August, most likely by way of an online event, it’s quite possible that the new Galaxy Watch may also be unveiled alongside those products.

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Watch live as ULA launches a secretive U.S. military spaceplane live for its sixth mission

On Saturday, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is targeting a liftoff time of 8:24 AM EDT (5:24 AM PDT) for one of its Atlas V rockets carrying the U.S. Space Force’s X-37B orbital test vehicle, which is a fully autonomous winged spaceplane that looks a little like a scaled down version of the Space Shuttle .

This is the sixth mission for the X-37B, though it’s the first flown under the U.S. Space Force’s supervision, since the space plane was previously operated by the Air Force before the formation of the new wing of the U.S. armed forces.

The X-37B runs various missions for the U.S., though its specific aims are actually classified. The uncrewed test vehicle spends long periods on orbit circling the Earth while conducting these missions, with its longest mission to date being a record 780 days for its flight that landed on October 27.

Stay tuned for updates, as weather conditions could mean this launch gets pushed to a backup date.

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Australian News

AFLW is back for 2020 with new teams, a longer season and more reasons to watch


February 04, 2020 13:24:25

The fourth edition of our national women’s competition is upon us, bringing to an end another long and evolutionary AFLW off-season.

As is to be expected for a league still in its early years of growth, change is once again afoot — four new teams, plenty of player movement and a longer season than ever before.

After an extended debate, a collective bargaining agreement was eventually passed, ensuring the future growth of the tournament and meaning the 2020 season can start in a relatively settled state.

The season gets underway on Friday night at Ikon Park, as Richmond makes its league debut against last year’s grand finalists Carlton. Before bouncedown, get yourself up to speed on the lay of the AFLW land.

Who are the new teams?

As mentioned, Richmond is on board for the first time and thanks to some aggressive recruiting, there will be hope the Tigers can make an immediate impact.

Katie Brennan and Monique Conti, both massive gets with the former becoming Richmond’s inaugural captain, have come over from the Bulldogs, while Sabrina Frederick has joined from Brisbane and Christina Bernardi has been poached from GWS.

The outlook is less rosy for the other three newcomers — St Kilda, West Coast and Gold Coast.

St Kilda built up its list with some experienced players but looks a little light on for starpower, the Eagles will take time to get used to playing together and only really have Dana Hooker to rely on for now, while the Suns nabbed a few players from the Lions but remained fairly young and inexperienced.

There’s an acceptance that the fresh faces get almost a free hit in their first season, a sentiment shared by AFLW chief executive Nicole Livingston who said “we never want to put high hopes” on the new teams.

But at the same time, there’s genuine room for optimism for the Tigers, and reasons to believe the 2020 season can be an important foundation for the other three.

Any player movements I should know about?

The AFLW sign and trade period saw a flurry of movement, especially with the new teams needing to essentially build lists from scratch, but there were a few marquee deals to remind yourself of.

Some of which we’ve already mentioned but bare repeating — Brennan’s move to Richmond is as massive for the Tigers as it is disastrous for the Bulldogs. She’s one of the league’s best players and a genuine leader, and the impact of her move should be immediately felt by both teams.

Speaking of the league’s best players, Brianna Davey has moved down the road from Carlton to Collingwood in a boost that could catapult the Pies from the bottom of the ladder to right up the pointy end.

Hooker, formerly of Fremantle and now of West Coast, is another prime midfield mover and immediately becomes the Eagles’ best player. Libby Birch moved to Melbourne from the Bulldogs, which prompted the Dogs to take Ashleigh Guest from the Demons to fill the hole.

But just as important as the players who have moved are those who are returning. At the top of that list is Daisy Pearce, now a mother of twins, who is back in the red and blue and already making Melbourne among the flag favourites.

Collingwood’s Chloe Molloy was the rising star in 2018 but missed the entirety of last season due to a foot injury, and Geelong’s top draft pick in 2018 Nina Morrison only managed one game in 2019 before doing her ACL. Both are fit and ready to fire in 2020.

There’s also hope Erin Phillips — the league’s best player and face of the competition — will be back early in the season, maybe as soon as round one, despite famously tearing her ACL in Adelaide’s grand final triumph last year. All footy fans have their fingers crossed on that one.

How does the fixture work this year?

It’s largely the same as last year, with the controversial conference system back again, albeit with some potentially crucial tweaks.

The introduction of the four new teams should hopefully balance the conferences out a little, after last year’s debacle that saw Conference A prove to be considerably stronger than Conference B, but in some respects, we have to wait and see on that one.

What we can guarantee is a longer season than ever before, with eight rounds played before three weeks of finals. It means there will be more of an overlap with the men’s season and has thrown up a few tasty double headers along the way.

The collective bargaining agreement also ensured that the seasons will continue to get longer, by one round a year for the next two seasons.

Finally, who are the favourites?

It’s always so tough to tell in AFLW, because the length of the competition and general equality across the league making many matches hard to predict, but of course there are frontrunners.

If Adelaide gets its full complement of players fit — including but not limited to Phillips — they’ll still be the team to beat. They’ve been the pacesetters for basically all of AFLW’s existence and only injury looks like slowing them again this year.

North Melbourne is certainly one to watch too. In the early stages of 2019, which was the Kangaroos’ first season no less, nobody was playing better footy than North. While their form slipped somewhat, they were victims of conference imbalance and should be stronger for the experience, making them a feared opponent in 2020.

Many are expecting the return of Pearce to elevate the Demons, and her class definitely justifies the rise in expectations. Despite the loss of Davey, there’s no reason to expect a massive drop off in Carlton’s output too, and motivated by grand final defeat, Tayla Harrs’s side might smell opportunity in a slightly weaker Conference B.

Then there are a number of wildcards, like Richmond, Fremantle, GWS and the Bulldogs who could be anywhere from great to grim.

It’s part of AFLW’s charm that it can feel completely up for grabs right until the last game of the season. 2020 looms as another intriguing season, and hopefully another sizable leap forward for the league.





First posted

February 04, 2020 13:00:31

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How To Watch The ‘Wolf Moon’ Lunar Eclipse In Australia

Aussies are in for a stellar treat this weekend, with a penumbral lunar eclipse rising over parts of the country on Saturday night. As the first of six expected lunar eclipses in 2020, it’s sure to be a wonderful sight for all the lovely stargazers out there. Here are the best times to watch in Australia.