The Tamworth Australian Football League or (TAFL) was started as a totally new League in 1997. It originally started in Tamworth, and consisting of Tamworth teams only, their philosophy, for the first couple of years, was no travel as this is what caused the previous League, the North West NSW League, to become obsolete.
It has grown from four Tamworth based “12-aside” teams, in 1997 to a fully fledged League consisting of seven Clubs representing six towns in Northern NSW.
1997 – 1998 The starting Clubs were: Prime Magpies – David Mitchell Swans – Courthouse Eagles and Nuttsy’s Bulldogs (4 Teams).
1999 – The New England Nomads joined the League and Nuttsy’s Bulldogs changed to the Cargill Kangaroos (5 Teams).
2000 – The Armidale Wanderers joined the League. The Courthouse Eagles withdraw (5 Teams).
2001 – Prime Magpies withdraw (4 Teams).
2002 – The Armidale Wanderers withdraw, the Gunnedah & District Bulldogs joined the League, the David Mitchell Swans were renamed the Tamworth Swans and the Cargill Kangaroos renamed as the Tamworth Kangaroos (4 Teams).
2003 – The Muswellbrook Cats join the TAFL (5 Teams).
2004 – The Narrabri Eagles join the TAFL (6 Teams).
2005 – The Inverell Saints are the newest recruits to the TAFL (7 Teams). The 2005 League has seven “16-aside” senior teams as follows:
- Tamworth Kangaroos
- Tamworth Swans
- New England Nomads
- Gunnedah & Districts Bulldogs
- Muswellbrook Cats
- Narrabri Eagles
- Inverell Saints
In addition to this Senior League, the Auskick program has been successfully running since 1997 in the local area. This is the first year for a new award in the TAFL, the Golden Whistle is awarded to the Umpire judged the best Umpire for the year.
2006 – Same seven Senior sides in the comp. Some major changes to this years competition include : 18 players per side (previous years were 16 players per side). 25 minute quarters (previous years 20 minute quarters). Attempt to start U-16 and 10 a side reserves competition. Juniors up and running with four sides (Tamworth Kangaroos, Tamworth Swans, Inverell Saints and newcomer Manilla Magpies). Reserves competition is not proceeded with.
2007 – Same seven Senior sides in the comp. Unfortunately the Junior competition did not continue this year due to the drought and rising fuel costs. It also did not help that the driving force behind the juniors, George Massa, left the region. The Inverell Saints finish the home and away season as minor premiers (undefeated) and play the Tamworth Kangaroos in the grand final at Inverell. The Saints win by 3 goals.
2008 – The drought is still biting hard forcing the Narrabri Eagles to go into hiatus for the this year. The Muswellbrook Cats struggle for player numbers, but manage to make it through the year playing almost all it’s games. The Tamworth Swans start a rebuild of their club, both on field and off, and by the end of the year the results are starting to show. The New England Nomads finish the year strongly (3rd) in a up and down year for them. The Inverell Saints again finish minor premiers and lose their home major semi final to the Tamworth Kangaroos. The Kangaroos host their first grand final since 2002 and the Saints have to get there by beating the Nomads in Inverell in the preliminary final. The Kangaroos win the grand final by 2 goals over the Saints. Long serving TAFL President Gerry Griffiths was honoured this year with the leading senior goal kicking award named after him (Gerry Griffiths Medal) and is given the honour of being the first life member of the TAFL. There is also a changing of the guard with Gerry Griffiths not seeking re-election to the presidency at the 2007 AGM. Darrell Benfield was elected president and is only the second president the TAFL has had.
2009 – The year started on the 2nd, November 2008 at the AGM. A new Executive committee was sworn in and they were President Darrell Benfield, Vice President Adrian Walsh, Secretary Josh McKenzie, Treasurer Neil Doran, General Member Graham Nuttal and General Member Gerry Griffiths. David MacLellan submitted and application requesting permission to see if there was enough interest in Moree to start a football club. He was granted permission but was unable to gather enough interest. The Narrabri Eagles were also unable to rejoin the TAFL due to the ongoing effects of the drought. For the first time in ten years the TAFL had a new major sponsor, Country Energy, and became known as the Country Energy Tamworth AFL. In April Treasurer Neil Doran resigned due business commitments. The season started with the traditional Anzac game between the Tamworth Kangaroos and the Inverell Saints in Tamworth, in a split round for the first time. This was also a replay of the 2008 Grand Final and the Kangaroos started the season with a win. In May President, Darrell Benfield, stood down due to medical reasons. He did continue in his role as registrar and web site administrator until the AGM though. Over the season the top of the ladder was a crowded place with all but the Muswellbrook Cats spending some time on top. The Cats struggled again for numbers and was winless for the year. Their off field rebuild was taking big steps though and they did discover a couple of good kids to build a team around. For the first time in ten years the finals would not see the green of the New England Nomads. The Nomads had had a big player turnover in the off season. The Gunnedah Bulldogs made the finals for the second year in a row but unfortunately for them they got a big reality check in the elimination final at the hands of the Swans. The Tamworth Swans made it back into the finals after missing out in 2008. They played the Kangaroos in the final home and away game with the winner, Kangaroos, claiming top spot and the loser, Swans, dropping to third. The Inverell Saints finished the season in second spot and played the Kangaroos in Tamworth for the right to host the Grand Final. They won and for the third straight year the Saints were into the Grand Final and hosting it for the second time. The Preliminary Final was a local derby between the Kangaroos and the Swans. It was a classic game with the Swans coming out on top and going into its first Grand Final since 2006. In front of 1500 strong crowd in the Inverell the Grand Final was a game befitting its status as the last game of the year between the 2 best teams. The Swans had a 27 point lead a the last break but a strong fight back in the last quarter saw the Saints get to within 4 points of the Swans, before the Swans steadied to win by 9 points. The Saints wayward kicking letting them down.