AFL England

GB Team Management

Dean Thomas

GB Bulldogs Head Coachthommo

Dean grew up in Perth, Western Australia, playing junior, junior representative (Subiaco in the WAFL), A Grade amateur and country footy at league level. Dean also coached at junior development squad level (u/16’s & U/18’s) before moving to the UK in 2009. Here he spent three years playing with the Manchester Mosquitos (one as playing coach) and one year as non-playing coach. Dean has led the ‘Mozzies’ to back to back premierships (2014, 2015).

Off the field, Dean is happiest on the golf course, traveling and attending sporting events. Day to day he works as a Sales Manager for a national beverage wholesaler, which is a role that has allows attendance at some great sporting events such as the British F1 Grand Prix and Rugby World Cup Final, as well as traveling to some interesting locations.

Dean has an 11 year old daughter and is a permanent British resident, although assures us he will always be a Wallabies supporter…



Garth Nevin

GB Swans Head Coachgarthnevin

Garth started playing footy at Under 11’s at his local club. He played representative football for my county league (MPNFL) all the way up through to Under 18’s while playing regular senior football for my club from 16! His best efforts at this age saw him kick 4 goals in one game as a 16 year old playing senior men’s football. At under 18’s he grew up playing with a lot of players who went on to play in the AFL. Garth’s Aussie rules football highlight would be that he played in a Senior men’s Grand Final and kicked the goal that won the game by 4pts with 30 seconds left on the clock! Garth then went overseas and played for the New York Magpies for 3 years, took mark of the year and won their New York competition best and fairest player! After this Garth then moved to Sheffield and set up and ran (President, Coach & Player) the Sheffield Thunder AFL team for the last 7 years. He is passionate about football and growing this sport globally. He is always looking for ways to pass on his knowledge of this great game. Over his playing career he has played in every position possible, yes even Ruck at under 14’s although that’s also when he stopped growing! Garth brings a wealth of knowledge to the GB Swans from his background in Australia and his time as assistant coach of the England Dragonslayers.



Jason Hill

GB Team Manager (UK Based)

Jason joined Wimbledon Hawks Australian Football Club in 2015 and made his England debut at the Euro Cup in Croatia finishing as a runner up in his first international outing. Jason’s love of AFL started while spending time in Australia and has become a keen St Kilda fan in the process. Jason has been involved in many sports in the UK including Soccer, Cricket and American Football and has been involved in growing the game through league and club committees across all sports.





Rhys Long

GB Bulldogs Assistant Coach and Team Manager (Australia Based)rhys

My playing career peaked after being an integral part of the Malmsbury Junior Football Club’s 1997 & 1999 Premiership sides. After moving to Leeds in the United Kingdom, following the completion of my degree, I searched for local clubs, with Huddersfield being the closest. I started playing but mainly coached in the second half of the season, taking the club to the Grand Final. After the season I created my own club in Leeds: the Leeds Minotaurs. In only our second year, we went the entire season undefeated.

After returning to Australia, I wanted to continue my involvement with AFL England. Being based in Melbourne, I volunteered to help out in the upcoming International Cup alongside Head Coach Mark Pitura. Having 13 members of the squad already in Australia, with 10 of those in Melbourne, is providing a great chance to have strong preparation leading into the tournament. With the quality in the squad, I expect the GB Bulldogs to finish somewhere between 4th & 6th at IC14.


Lauren Spark

GB Swans Assistant Coach (Australia Based)

Lauren Spark began playing Australian Rules Football in 2012 after she was introduced to the Melbourne University Women’s Football Club by a work colleague.

After joining the ‘Mugars’, Lauren enjoyed a great first season, winning the VWFL Debbie Lee Medal (best first year player) and selected to play for Vic Metro against Vic Country.

The following year she was fortunate enough to be selected for the Victorian team to play in the national championships which they won.

In 2014 and 2015, Lauren was drafted and retained respectively by The Western Bulldogs, and played in both of these exhibition games.

Looking for a sea change Lauren decided to pack her bags (and football boots) and headed to London. She joined the first ever Women’s AFL London based league and joined the club, Wimbledon Hawks. She was very eager to help build the team, the club and the league with coaching and advice where she could. Seeing how eager the girls in the London league were to learn she was very happy when approached to help assist the first ever national women’s team – The GB Swans. Lauren and the team enjoyed a successful European Championships, taking out the title and is looking forward to assisting the team again in 2017 when they travel down under to her home town, Melbourne, for the international Cup.

In 2016 Lauren was selected as the 76th overall pick in the first ever Women’s AFL draft for the Western Bulldogs.

Ian Mitchell

GB Swans Assistant Coach (UK Based)

Ian started playing in 2008 after returning from a year in Australia where he became (and remains!) a big Adelaide Crows fan.

He began playing for Birmingham Bears before deciding to start up a club in my hometown of Wolverhampton; the Wolverines. The club is in it’s seventh year and it’s membership is heavily influenced by ex-students that Ian has taught to play the game at school. Ian is also currently president and head coach.

He captained England between 2011-2015 with the highlight being winning the Euro Cup in Bordeaux in 2013. Ian was vice-captain for GB Bulldogs at the International Cup in 2011 and captained them to runners up in the European Championships in 2013 in Dublin being awarded Best On Ground in the final in the process. Ian was also lucky enough to be picked to play at The Oval in 2012 as part of a European All Stars game that preceded the Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide showcase game.

Ian was honoured to be asked to help assistant coach the European Legion team v the AIS under Tadgh Kennelly and Brad Ottens in 2013, and have recently been named as assistant coach for the GB Swans; the country’s first female representative side.

Guy Titman

Team Physio

Having graduated from University of West of England in 2008, Guy went to work in the NHS doing his junior rotations in Bedford hospital and Sheffield teaching hospital for three years before specialising in musculoskeletal outpatients.

While working in Sheffield he played and helped physio for 3 years for the Sheffield Thunder Australian Rules team which gave him a good insight into the sport.

He moved to New Zealand for a year working as a private MSK physiotherapist mentored by the “Black Sticks” NZ hockey physiotherapist, were he gained valuable hands on treatment experience. While in New Zealand he played my first games of 18 aside Aussie Rules Football which showed me the difference between fitness required from the 9 aside game.

On returning to the UK he moved to London to work privately in a well renowned north London sports physiotherapy practice were he treated amateur and professional athletes from a variety of sports.

He became the physiotherapist for the Great Britain AFL sides in February 2016 and enjoy working closely with the other physio’s and strength and conditioning coaches to keep the players on the field. He come from a rugby background, therefore find the contact situation involved with Aussie rules exciting but also admire and understand the skill involved with kicking and taking marks.

Hilary Wilson

Team Physio

Hilary graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty) from the University of Otago in New Zealand. She also completed a Post Graduate Certificate Endorsed in Acupuncture in 2008.S55C3446-1

Her first 5 years were spent working in Private practice in New Zealand and Australia, where she specialized in Sports and Orthopaedic Injuries. Hilary started working with rugby teams in 2003, whilst still at University, and continued this throughout her career, until changing codes in 2015 to Aussie Rules.

Upon moving to the UK in 2011, Hilary initially worked at The London Clinic on Harley Street before spending some time working as a Locum in the NHS for a Specialist Musculoskeletal Service. She has now moved back into Private Practice, working with high-level athletes at a practice in the City of London.

Hilary’s first contact with AFL was whilst living and working in Australia, though in all honesty she was not that taken with the sport! This all changed in 2015 when some friends convinced her to join the North London Lions women’s team. She has since had the pleasure of playing two tournaments with the GB Swans before becoming part of the Physiotherapy Team with the Bulldogs in April 2016.

Millie Morgan

Team PhysioS55C3448-1

Having graduated from St Mary’s University in 2015, Millie went to work for the Ministry of Defence in Surrey. Whilst living in London Millie has worked for a National League Hockey Team and at  Local Rugby club as Men’s Head Therapist

Millie took on the role of Sport Rehab therapist for the Great British AFL sides in February 2016 and thoroughly enjoys working alongside the other physiotherapists and S&C coach. Having not previously experienced working with an AFL side, Millie respects the strength and skill the players hold to partake in the game.

Charley Dakin

Team Physio

Charley moved from Devon to Twickenham in 2012 to study Sport Rehabilitation at St Mary’s University. Whilst studying she worked alongside numerous teams including semi-professional rugby and amateur ladies gaelic clubs. She is passionate about working within a team environment and has a strong interest in high impact injuries. Joining the team was a great way to combine the two..! After graduating with Honors she continued working in a multidisciplinary clinic in Chiswick. Charley has always enjoyed sports and being part of a team; whether that was umpiring, playing or coaching. Hockey was her main interest and played for 10 years before free time was focussed on working part time in a private clinic.

Simon Vardy

Strength and Conditioning Lead

Simon has been involved in sport his entire life, more specifically initially as a swimmer where he competed to national level and attended the Sydney Olympic trials, then American Football where he competed internationally for England and earned a partial scholarship to play in college in America before an injury prevented his trip. Coming back from injury was when he discovered Australian Rules Football, having already been a fan with relatives in Australia and joined the Sheffield Thunder in their founding year of 2010 along with team physio Guy Titman. In the same year he represented England against Scotland and Wales as well as GB in the Europeans in Copenhagen but time constraints and injury kept him out of the England squad until the 2015 Europeans in Croatia where he played alongside team manager Jason Hill and many of the current GB players.

Competing to this high level has meant that Simon has always had a keen interest in the performance side of sport and specifically strength and conditioning which has led to him working in that field. Outside of the GB Bulldogs and GB Swans he works with the Performance Clubs and Elite Sports Performance Scheme athletes at The University of Sheffield, which has previously included athletes such as Olympic silver medallist Bryony Page. On top of this, he oversaw the scholarship, academy and reserve level S&C training of the Sheffield Eagles Rugby League team whilst assisting with the first team sessions. He also leads all the S&C training for the Sheffield Elite Training Group of GB Orienteering. The wide breadth of sports he works with has led to plenty of experience in adapting programming to fit the needs of the athletes which helps provide a more rounded approach to S&C for many sports, including Aussie Rules.