In the run-up to the 2019 European Championships in London and the 2020 International Cup in Melbourne, we’re sitting down with some key members of both the GB Bulldogs and Swans sides to find out more about the team.
Roy Brannigan first got into Australian football after living in Cairns for three years as a child and now five years later he is club captain and the oldest member of the 2017 International Cup squad named in the 2019 Bulldogs Training Squad.
“When I came back to England, I assumed I wouldn’t ever get to play it over here,” Brannigan told AFL England. “That was until I went to a Gateshead Thunder rugby league game in 2013, and overheard something about Australian football in the North East.
“I’ve played for the Tyne Tees Tigers ever since!”
Having played a couple of seasons as a junior for the North Cairns Tigers, it was perhaps apt that Brannigan’s first senior game was for another Tigers team, albeit one 15,000km away!
Nor more than five years on since first picking up a Sherrin in England, Brannigan is now club captain of the Tigers, and two goals in his side’s victory over the Edinburgh Bloods earlier this season saw him become the club’s leading all-time goal scorer.
Brannigan has also notched up five caps for Great Britain and kicked three goals all against Canada back in 2017 in what was only his second game for the national side.
“It was a warm, dry, calm evening so it played out pretty well for us,” said Brannigan. “I tend to play midfield for the Tigers and mainly as a small forward for GB.
“I wouldn’t say I have a preference for either position. As a midfielder you can get the ball more, whereas a forward is involved in more scoring plays.”
Three months later, Brannigan was on his way to the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne as a late call-up to the Great Britain squad for the tournament.
“I was initially an emergency player in the squad, and a couple of weeks before the squad was due to fly out, I got the message asking if I could step in, which was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Now almost a year out from the 2020 International Cup, Brannigan was named in the 2019 GB Bulldogs Training Squad and says that any involvement with the Bulldogs is a huge privilege. As the oldest member of the 2017 IC squad named in the Training Squad, here’s hoping that his extra experience will help younger members of the Bulldogs squad continue to develop.
However, before his attention can turn to the European Championships in October, the precursor to the International Cup next year, Brannigan has his eyes firmly fixed on domestic footy for the Tigers.
“I wanna help the Tigers reach our first finals in the Scottish league, then I can focus on helping the Bulldogs retain the European Championship title!”