AFL Sydney – 2024 Premier Division Fixture Release and Round 1 Deep Dive

Written by Sam Zikman (AFL Sydney)

Competition Update – Women’s Premier Division

AFL Sydney wishes to announce the Parramatta Goannas and Macquarie University Women’s Football Alliance has been terminated effective immediately. The two clubs have engaged amicably to ensure both can move forward positively, with a clear focus on development of their club, coaches and players. Unfortunately, it was determined the alliance was no longer tenable, and did not support the best interest of both clubs.

Further to the above, and in consultation with the Parramatta Goannas – AFL Sydney are pleased to announce the Parramatta Goannas will participate in Women’s Premier Division standalone in 2024. This change will be reflected in the Premier Division fixture released today. A media release will be prepared in due course on the Goannas entry into Women’s Premier Division.

The Goannas have nominated Women’s teams in Women’s Premier Division, Women’s Division One, Women’s Division Two and Under 20’s Division One. Macquarie University have confirmed they will be nominating their highest Women’s team in Women’s Division Two, with further teams to be considered. The final structure will be confirmed by the league following final team nomination which are due this week.

Thanks to both clubs, and all the best for season 2024 in the respective competition grades.

AFL Sydney – 2024 Premier Division Fixture Release and Round 1 Deep Dive

Today we look at the 2024 AFL Sydney fixture, key matches, and a deep dive into Round 1 across both Premier Division Competitions.

Full Premier Division Fixtures (match times are TBC) can be found on PlayHQ – Click Here

Just over 50 days until AFL Sydney Football is back and we commence the 2024 Season in style with a cracking Round One across Men’s and Women’s Premier Division.

Men’s Premier Division:

2024 sees the promotion of the back-to-back Platinum Division Premiers South West Sydney Blues (15 wins – 2 losses, 2023 Premiers in Platinum Division). The ‘Blues’ moniker is no stranger to Premier Division football with the Campbelltown Blues (Campbelltown and South West Sydney Magpies merged in 2022) having last played in Premier Division in the 2014 season. What a way to kick off their return to the top level of AFL Sydney with ‘Western Derby’ against the Inner West Magpies (4 -12, 7th place in 2023) at Monarch Oval, affectionately known as Bob Prenter Oval in Macquarie Fields. The Blues have serious talent with top end academy player Caleb May (Allies 2023) heading the bunch, but they won’t have it easy when they face up against Ben Klemke’s men on the wide expanses of Monarch Oval. One of the best leaders in the competition Callum McAvoy-Gray will lead his team with redemption on their minds following a disappointing season 2023, hoping to kickstart their season at the Blues’ expense.

This match will be covered LIVE (Match of the Round) with the ‘Voice of AFL Sydney’, David Redden, returning for his fifth season as head of the AFL Sydney commentary team. The league is also pleased to confirm both Jono Farr and Ash Borg will also be back to call AFL Sydney footy in season 2023.

Speaking of Local Derbies, they don’t get much bigger than the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ that being the Spit Bridge, with the North Shore Bombers (15-1, Runners Up in 2023) hosting the much-improved Manly Warringah Wolves (8-8, 5th place in 2023) in front of the Bombers’ faithful at Gore Hill Oval in the heart of the Lower North Shore. The strong word is Frane Babic may be on the move from Manly to North Shore which will add some additional spice to Round 1. Manly have had a great off-season to date, adding several very formidable recruits including Jonathon Marsh (Keilor – Essendon District Football League and Coburg – VFL), Barry O’Connor (Sydney Swans – VFL) who will be fulltime at the Wolves after sharing duties between AFL Sydney and the VFL last season along with Antony Forato (Turvey Park) joining an improved list headlined by Kale Gabila (Phelan Medallist – 2023). Without question the Wolves has amassed the strongest recruiting class in recent memory with all three new recruits likely to be in the best 5-10 players in AFL Sydney this season. The Bombers will also be ready to dominate once again in 2024, led by superstar and AFL Sydney Team of the Year Captain Ned Campbell (Phelan Medallist – 2023), Sam Barkley and Christian Loone. It would not surprise anyone at AFL Sydney to see both teams (Manly and North Shore) pushing for a double chance if not top spot and a first week bye come finals in early September.

Let’s keep heading North down the pacific highway for another fantastic Round 1 match up with two 2023 finals teams pitted against each other at the fortress that is Mike Kenny Oval in Cherrybrook. The Pennant Hills Demons (11-5, 3rd in 2023) are back and confident coming into season 2024 having returned to the finals in season 2023 following the very rare occurrence of missing September action in 2022. Ben Roberts (Head Coach) and the Demons have recruited strongly from the Hunter Central Coast, along with retaining most of their team from last season, noting several key players have headed down to the VFL headlined by Harry McGuire (Phelan Medallist – 2023) joining Port Melbourne. The Demons’ forward structure will be bolstered with the return of premiership hero the ‘Chief’ Nick Hey, it would not surprise if the ‘Chief’ and the ‘Prince’ (Theo Moraitis) become the most dangerous forward tandem in the league. Sydney University (11-5, 4th in 2023) are their Round 1 opponents and it will be a new look Students with Matt Vicic moving on to join the Swans’ VFL coaching panel and first year head coach Tim Sphere moving into the top job. Sphere moves into the role having guided the Sydney University Under 19’s to an undefeated Premiership in 2023, noting at times on Grand Final day it did look like the Bulldogs may be about to spoil the party. The Students will field a young, fit and very talented team in 2024 with the likes of William Gibbs and Jay Tang likely to explode this season and cement themselves in the top 10 players in the league.

Next up is a matchup between two teams seeking a move up the ladder in 2024, having spent several seasons re-building their lists. The East Coast Eagles (1-15, 9th in 2023) have added to their list ahead of this season both with talent Under 19’s players and some external recruitment of experienced players, including Cam Bernasconi (Ainsley, premiership player and GIANTS AFLW coach) along with the much-needed return of 2022 best and fairest winner Baylee Jones. The Eagles welcome the only team they vanquished in season 2023, the UTS AFC Bats (3-13, 8th in 2023) who themselves have had a busy off-season recruiting and retaining to build a promising list. They have added quality too, with the inclusion of Hugo Birks who heads to Sydney from Victoria following some impressive footy in the Coates Talent League for the Sandringham Dragons. The Bats and Eagles are in the best position they have been in years to rise, with both teams led by arguable two of the best and most composed coaches in the league with Gavin Jones (East Coast Eagles) and Kevin Dyson (UTS AFC Bats) both back to guide their respective teams in 2024. This match will also be covered LIVE as part of the AFL Sydney match of the round schedule, which includes a massive three LIVE matches in Round 1.

The final match of the round also sees the 2023 Premiership flag raised, with the flagpole at Henson Park once again the holding what all teams will be chasing in 2024. The UNSW-ES Bulldogs (12-4, Premiers) won’t be complacent with back-to-back flags and instead have reloaded following the loss of plenty of experience from their premiership team including coach Darren Pfeiffer (Assistant Coach, North Adelaide in the SANFL), along with the retirement of Kieran Emery and Brandon Jack. Plenty of defenders will be breathing a sigh of relief with ‘Kiz’ no longer owning the forward 50 for the Bulldogs, however, you never know – could we see his return at some point in season 2024? Guiding the Bulldogs in 2024 will be the extremely qualified Robbie Chancellor (AFL Assistant Coach with Melbourne and the GIANTS), from all reports the team have not missed a beat, the addition of Will Kelly (AFL – Collingwood) suggest the Bulldogs will be back and ready to win three in a row. The Bulldogs welcome the St George Dragons (7-9, 6th in 2023) to Henson Park, with the dragons having a coaching change of their own. It will be a strange AFL Sydney without ‘Quinny’ on the sidelines moving the magnets, however, we know we will certainly be there cheering on his beloved red and white. The Dragons have turned to Abe Caroca (Swans Academy) and we will certainly have his work cut out for him, with the departure of spiritual leader Steve Nabaki (Rumbalara in the Murray Football League), possible retirement of the evergreen Ben Jones along with Tim Tegg likely headed to Melbourne to join South Croydon (Premier Division) in arguable the best community league in the country, the Eastern Football Netball League. No doubt the club will need to turn to its youth with players such as Finnigin Ritchie required to step in and drive the team forward, however, rumours of a return of Kye Pfrengle (North Adelaide, SANFL) would be a welcome sight and warm the hearts at Olds Park.

Matches not to miss in the first 8 Rounds;

Round 1 – South West Sydney Blues vs Inner West Magpies

Round 4 – Inner West Magpies vs Pennant Hills Demons (ANZAC Day)

Round 4 – North Shore Bombers vs UNSW-ES Bulldogs

Round 5 – East Coast Eagles vs Pennant Hills Demons

Round 6 – St. George Dragons vs Manly Warringah Wolves (Indigenous Round)

Round 6 – UTS AFC Bats vs Pennant Hills Demons

Round 8 – UNSW-ES Bulldogs vs Sydney University (Pride Round)

Download the PDF

Women’s Premier Division:

All eyes will be on Kanebridge Oval for the Women’s Premier Division’s Grand Final rematch between the East Coast Eagles (14-1-1, Premier in 2023) and the UTS AFC Bats (15-1, Runner Up 2023). The Eagles have reloaded in the best way possible as they go after a three-peat with the return of Rylee McGartland for season 2024. McGartland had their last season off which would have been a relief for full backs after three dominating seasons winning both the club and league goal kicking awards (Belinda Pride Trophy) in 2022. Imagine a forward line with McGartland and last season’s leading goal kicker Caitlin Davidson – wow. The Bats came on leaps and bounds in 2023, after missing the finals by percentage in 2022 they ascended to minor premiers in 2023. It was only a rampant Eagles team which defeated the Bats in 2023, however, on the biggest day of all the Bats fell short. They will be back and ready to fire under new coach Daniel Fielder who made the move from Pennant Hills to take over from Miguel Limson who himself has moved south-west to join the Blues (Women’s Division One) as Coaching Director, which is a clear sign the South West Sydney Blues are seeking Women’s Premier Division football in the coming seasons. This match will also be covered LIVE as part of the AFL Sydney match of the round schedule, which includes a massive three LIVE matches in Round 1.

Another promotion in the off-season with St George Dragons (13-4, 2023 Women’s Division One) moving in Premier Division following an impressive move through the divisional competitions including the Premiership in Division One last season. The Dragons won the flag in the most amazing game against the UTS Bats. The Dragons saluted in overtime sending the red and white faithful into raptures with an old school storming of Blacktown ISP Oval 1. The ‘Young Dragons’ will be looking for natural improvement across their list, but also have superstars in Rachel Simpson, Sophie Higgs and Scarlett Wynn to lead the way. The first test for the Dragons comes in the form of UNSW-ES Bulldogs (2-14, 8th in 2023) at the historic Henson Park in Marrickville. The Bulldogs have a boat load of talent coming through their junior system and will similarly to St George be looking to build with youth over the years to come. Em Blaydes (joining UTS) will be a big loss for the Bulldogs, however, with Hayley Stanford and Chloe Anderson back for another campaign the Bulldogs will be on the rise.

In an off-season coup, the Pennant Hills Demons (5-11, 7th in 2023) have added Terry Mudge as head coach. Mudge needs no introduction with an impressive resume of coaching experience at the top levels of our game in Sydney. Mudge will be joined by Elly Rugg as Assistant Coach in 2024, from all reports Rugg will be swapping the field for the coaching box. However, the Demons are still very young and will need plenty of experience to guide them both on and off the field. It would not be a surprise if we saw Rugg back on the field at some stage in 2024. Kaitlin Quinlan and Hayley Lowe will be crucial for the Demons along with one of the best recruits of 2023 – Rebecca Ives, the former AFL Hunter Central Coast League Best and Fairest winner who returns for her second season at the Demons. Sydney University (8-8, 5th in 2023) are the Demons opponents in Round 1. It was an up and down campaign in 2023 for Jon Dyster and his team. For stages they looked the team to beat, and at others they struggled to compete week in week out. The key will be finding a focus point up forward, and a player who can hit the scoreboard with regularity. The Students have talent that’s for sure, with Maryanne Harley. a legitimate superstar in our competition having won her first Mostyn Medal in 2023. Harley will need the likes of Saskia Johnson and Jasmine Smith to continue to support along with adding talent from their junior networks to ensure another finals campaign this season.

First up for the North Shore Bombers (5-10-1, 6th in 203) will be the Manly Warringah Wolves (11-5, 3rd in 2023). The Bombers could be anything if they can keep their best team on the field at key times throughout season. No doubt a disappointing season without a trip to the finals will spur the Bombers on in 2024, we know the talent pipeline is strong and will support the clubs aims to play finals, but the key will remain players such as Elle Carroll, Lucy Krimmer, and Matilda Eder. The Wolves have a new look in 2024 with several high-profile retirements in the off-season, having said this the young talent at Weldon would be the envy of many. The Wolves will continue to look to Andrea Roditis and Caitlin Johnson, along with Hannah Wolfe and Jessica Layton. The Wolves have picked up Zara Hamilton (2023 – GWS GIANTS AFLW), Hamilton will be a force in AFL Sydney and a great addition for the Wolves.

The Parramatta Goannas (10-5, 4th in 2023 as Macquarie University Goannas) have the round 1 bye and will need to wait another week to commence their 2024 campaign as a Standalone Premier Division Club. The Goannas are pumped to get on the park in 2024, and for very good reason following a strong first season which culminated in a Preliminary Final appearance. The Goannas coach Joel Upfill has the team firing in preseason and looking to go at least one step further and play in a Grand Final in 2024. There is talent on every line for the with Caitlin Fletcher, Amanda Farrugia, Sera Kaukiono and Michala Ford to name a few. Watch this space…The Goannas are coming.

Matches not to miss in the first 8 Rounds;

Round 1 – East Coast Eagles vs UTS AFC Bats

Round 2 – North Shore Bombers vs Pennant Hills Demons

Round 3 – Parramatta Goannas vs East Coast Eagles

Round 4 – Manly Warringah Wolves vs East Coast Eagles

Round 6 – St. George Dragons vs Manly Warringah Wolves (Indigenous Round)

Round 7 – Parramatta Goannas vs Manly Warringah Wolves

Round 8 – UNSW-ES Bulldogs vs Sydney University (Pride Round)

Download the PDF

Stay Tuned next week for the full release of the AFL Sydney Match of the Round schedule. Once again in season 2024 AFL Sydney will stream live with commentary the Men’s and Women’s Premier Division match of the round, along with select additional fixtures.