WHEN Grant and Kat Clark were pressed to name their newborn son, the word “Dallas” was never too far from their minds.
A gridiron fanatic, Grant says his beloved team, the Dallas Cowboys, weren’t the sole reason behind the name of his now 18-month-old son, Dallas – but they definitely played a part.
For the past six years, the Charnwood resident has been the linebacker for the Centurions, a Canberra-based gridiron team launched in 2007.
“I’ve always loved watching gridiron, it’s a thinking sport… it’s not just a ‘run-get-tackled’ game, and I liked that conception of it,” Grant says.
Centurions president Peter Lilley says gridiron is becoming increasingly popular in Canberra thanks to easier viewing access on the internet and Foxtel, and heavier promotion of Super Bowl Sunday.
The Centurions have two teams in the ACT Gridiron League, seniors (18s and over), juniors (14 – 17), and are currently in the process of developing a women’s team, The Diamonds.
“I would say gridiron first started to grow here in Canberra in the 1990s, but in the past year interest has just skyrocketed,” says Peter.
“So far, our juniors have won three championships and our seniors have made the semi-finals, and most players start with no experience at all.
“With the women’s team… we decided to hold a meet and greet, expecting only a couple of people to turn up, but about 10 girls turned up and now we’re in the process of recruiting for a team of seven.”
Peter, 40, says he fell in love with gridiron back in college thanks to famed NFL commentator Don Lane.
“That was in 1990 and in those days there was no Foxtel or internet, but they had Don’s Monday night football broadcast on the ABC,” Peter says.
“Not long after that the school I was attending, Erindale College, started up a gridiron team and I was asked to join. I was actually playing up until recently, but once I turned 40 my body couldn’t take the hits anymore!”
Predominantly played in North America, gridiron developed in the late 19th century, and is distinguished from other football codes by its use of helmets and shoulder pads, forward passes, the ability to score points while not in possession of the ball, and the ball itself – distinctively coated in brown leather, in the shape of a prolate spheroid.
Peter describes the sport as “one giant game of chess”.
He says the crowds are gradually growing at the junior and senior teams’ home stadium in Greenway.
“Soon we’ll be introducing Friday night lights for the senior team, so there will be DJs and a commentator – we’re trying to jazz it up a bit,” he says.
An open day/meet and greet for the women’s team will be held at 5pm on Sunday, November 3 at the corner of Captain Cook Crescent and Sturt Avenue, Narrabundah. RSVP to email@example.com
More information and game rosters at centurionsgridiron.com