Bristol Dockers

The Bristol Dockers (formerly the Bristol Bears[citation needed]) are an Australian rules football club based in Bristol, England. The club has both men's and ladies teams competing in the 9 aside format.

Bristol Dockers FC
Bristol Dockers Logo.jpg
NicknamesThe Dockers, The Purple Haze
SportAustralian Rules football
LeagueWelsh Australian Rules Football League
Based inBristol
ColoursPurple and white

Bristol currently play home games at Lockleaze Sports Centre and train on The Downs, Bristol.


The Bristol Bears were the first Australian rules club in England's West Country, formed in 1991 in the British Australian Rules Football League. Their first match was against fellow newcomers the Sussex Swans at Shoreham-by-Sea, the Bears running out 119-point winners. The Bears often struggled against the London clubs, although in some seasons difficulties in travel for the Londoners (forfeiting the long road trip west) meant the Bears performed well on paper without actually taking the paddock.[1]

The Bears changed their name for the 1997 season to the Dockers, continuing on in the BARFL premiership, then becoming part of the BARFL Regional series upon inception of this competition in 2003. They won the inaugural Regional premiership in this year, the first flag in their 13-year history.[2]

With the creation of the Aussie Rules UK regional leagues in 2007, the Dockers elected to play in the BARFL's London Social League (now the Social Division of the AFL London).

In 2010 the Dockers again made it to the Semi Finals in AFL London Social league, unfortunately coming undone in the last half of the game and conceding defeat.

In 2011, the Dockers moved to the 9-a-side format in the Welsh Australian Rules Football League, which meant a change in home ground from Aretians Rugby club.

The Bristol Dockers have an allegiance with the Western Gaels Gaelic Football Club, with many of their players from both clubs crossing over sports and playing for both clubs.

In 2018 the Bristol Dockers announced the formation of a ladies team, a historic moment for the club.

Glory years: 2014–2017Edit

The Bristol Dockers experienced an unprecedented level of success during the 2010s. During the 2014 season the Dockers went unbeaten, winning 11 consecutive games, including a home and away double against arch rivals Cardiff Panthers. The 2014 final is one of the greatest moments in dockers history. The final was played at Aretians RFC in Bristol and won by a single score by the dockers. In 2017 Bristol Dockers were yet again crowned WARFL champions. With dockers finishing second in the league a tough away final in Cardiff was played out. The final started badly for the dockers who were 3 goals down after the first 2 quarters. In true dockers style Bristol turned it around in the 3rd, blowing away the strong Panthers team. Dockers stood firm in the final quarter to hold on and win comfortably.[3][4]


The 2018 season proved to be yet another successful season for the Dockers. Following the title in 2017 the dockers qualified for the AFL Europe - European Champions League.

Bristol were handed a tough draw, including tournament favorites and reigning champions, West London Wildcats and the "Young but Powerful" Zagreb Dockers, in the game billed the "Docker Derby".[5] Despite the tough draw, and unconventional tournament preparation, the Dockers achieved a creditable 13th place in the tournament, with a notable victory over Styrian Dogs in the knockout stages.

The tournament was also notable for being the Dockers first internationally televised match, playing against the French ALFA Lions.[6]

Back on home soil The Dockers set out to defend their WARFL title. 2018 was a big year for the WARFL with the introduction of cross regional tournaments with the South Eastern Australian Football League (SEAFL). These included games against Portsmouth Pirates, Southampton Titans and Sussex Swans, with the dockers coming out victorious in the inaugural tournament.[7]

Bristol Dockers performed admirably over the course of the season defending their title. Significant victories were recorded over South Cardiff Panthers in a season defining, hard fought, 13 point victory playing with a scratch 9 and the spectacular round 5 186–22 victory over Chippenham Redbacks.[8]

The July Grand Final versus the South Cardiff Panthers was played out in Bristol at the Dings Crusaders RFC. Bristol were victorious 14 14 98 d Cardiff Panthers 5 17 47, in their most comprehensive victory ever over their fierce rivals.[9]

In 2019 the club decided to form a women's team. On 2 March, as part of a round robin tournament involving Sussex Swans, London Swans and Cardiff Panthers, the Bristol Dockers Ladies competed in their first ever competitive games.[10]

As 2018 WARFL Champions the Dockers qualified for the 2019 AFL Europe - European Champions League. Following an intense preseason campaign a much changed Bristol Dockers Squad finished a creditable 12th, with Dockers Team Manager Stating "Its really big for us as a chance to push ourselves against stronger teams before our season – and also fantastic to be part of keeping the focus on club sides outside of London in the UK."[11]

Bristol Dockers kicked off their WARFL Campaign with a comprehensive victory over the Chippenham Redbacks 101 to 40 in horrendous conditions.

Current squad listEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 {{{pos}}}   ENG Docker 1

Individual awardsEdit

Year Best & Fairest Players Player Most Improved
2018 Charlie Callendar Fraser Rigby


  1. ^ "Australian Rules Football in the U.K." Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Bristol Football Club". Australian Rules Football. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  3. ^ "WARFL Grand Final 2017 – Cardiff Panthers Australian Rules Football". Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Finals footy: Dockers overcome Panthers in a Cardiff thriller!". AFL England. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Champions League Fixture Reveal • AFL Europe". 5 April 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Bristol Dockers v Alpha Lions Champions League 2018 (Dockers only)". YouTube. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ "PSS Presents: Around the Grounds • AFL Europe". 22 May 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Bristol Dockers On Track To Defend Title – AFL Wales". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Bristol Dockers Take Welsh Title". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Bristol Dockers on Instagram: "The Dockers held a tournament on Saturday hosting @sussexswans @london_swans with support from the @cardiffpanthers 🇦🇺🏉 A huge thank you…"". Instagram. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  11. ^ afleurope (26 March 2019). "2019 Champions League Team Previews: Part Seven • AFL Europe". Retrieved 25 May 2019.

External linksEdit