Northern Territory Football League

Email address
Postal address
PO Box 43196, Casuarina. NT 0811

The Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) is an Australian Rules Football Tier 2 semi-professional league operating in Darwin in the Northern Territory.

The league is one of the only, and the highest level, Australian Rules competitions played during the Australian summer with the season usually beginning in October and ending in March, which is during the hot and humid Darwin wet season.

The league regularly attracts high profile semi-professional players from interstate leagues due to the timing of the season, which allows players to play extra games during the rest of Australia's off-season.

In 1917 the Northern Territory Football Association became the NTFL. The league was made up of three clubs: Wanderers, Waratah and Warriors.

The inaugural NTFL match was played on 27 January 1917 between Waratah and Wanderers.The following day a Foundation Day holiday exhibition game was played between teams made up of Aboriginal players from the Kahlin Compound.[1]

The Commonwealth administration did not allow Aboriginals from the Compound to play in the NTFL competition until many years later.

Warriors, the NTFL’s third team, recruited mainly from Vesteys, played their first game on 4 February.[2] Wanderers dominated the first NTFL season and won the premiership but it was not without controversy.

Some players tried to swap clubs when it was clear they would not make the finals.[3] It was also reported that gambling was affecting games as was common at the time in other parts of Australia.[4]

The weekly theatre of football would see innumerable controversies on and off the field and fuel countless conversations and debates from one game to the next over the next 100 years.

[1] Northern Territory Times, 1 February 1917.

[2] Northern Territory Times, 8 March 1917.

[3] Northern Territory Times, 29 March 1917.

[4] Hess, R., M. Nicholson, and B. Stewart and G. De Moore, eds. A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football. (Melbourne: Viking/Penguin Group, 2008), p. 149.