CANBERRA DEMONS HAS BEEN PART OF NEAFL SINCE 2016
The North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) was formed in 2011 to improve the standard of second-tier football across the ACT, Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Consequently, it has allowed the retention of four AFL Reserve teams - Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and GWS - in the competition as well as provide a greater opportunity for home grown talent to remain in their home state whilst continually their goal to reach the AFL level.Initially the NEAFL comprised of teams from the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) and the AFL Canberra competition, plus the Sydney Swans Reserves and Northern Territory Thunder.
The Gold Coast Suns Reserves and the GWS Giants Reserves also joined the league for the first time in 2011, coinciding with Gold Coast’s first season in the AFL while GWS were preparing to enter the AFL in 2012.The teams were split into two conferences, a 10-team Northern (Morningside, Southport, Redland, Labrador, Mt Gravatt, Aspley, Broadbeach, NT Thunder, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns) and a six-team Eastern (Ainslie, Eastlake, Tuggeranong, Queanbeyan, Belconnen and Sydney Swans).
The clubs mainly played each other within their respective conferences apart from once or twice a season when they would play cross-conference matches. At the end of the season the winner of the Northern Conference would play the winner of the Eastern Conference for the NEAFL Championship.
NT Thunder won the first ever NEAFL Championship when they beat Morningside in the Northern Conference Final in Brisbane and Ainslie in the NEAFL Championship Final in Alice Springs the following week. In 2012, two new teams joined the Eastern Conference - Sydney University and Sydney Hills Eagles (elevated from the AFL Sydney competition).
The Brisbane Lions Reserves were NEAFL Champions in 2012, beating NT Thunder in the Northern Conference Final before travelling to Canberra and defeating Eastern Conference premier Queanbeyan. Brisbane made it back-to-back title wins in 2013 when they first overcame Aspley before pushing aside fellow AFL club Sydney to claim their second Championship.
At the end of the 2013 season the NEAFL announced major structural changes to the competition as part of the league’s long-term focus on increased competition standard and enhanced talent pathways. As a result, five clubs left the competition and the conference system was abolished. Broadbeach, Labrador, Morningside and Mt Gravatt exited the NEAFL and re-joined a reconstructed QAFL competition, while Tuggeranong went back to the AFL Canberra Division One competition.
The two conferences were merged into a single 14-team competition at the start of the 2014 season. Due to the financial challenges of participating in the competition, Belconnen, Queanbeyan and the Sydney Hills Eagles chose to leave the NEAFL at the end of the 2014 season, leaving 11 teams to battle it out for the premiership in 2015.
Following the 2015 season, Ainslie withdrew from the competition leaving 10 teams in the 2016 season and Eastlake as the sole ACT team in Canberra. With the resulting changes in the ACT region, Eastlake renamed the team to the Canberra Demons to reflect the greater ACT region and through its own Club, a clear seperation from the AFL Canberra competition.