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10:34am Nov 20, 2014
9:43am Nov 20, 2014
In 1989, members of the local Australian community in Toronto, Canada congregated to play a number of Australian Rules football matches. Sighting some growing enthusiasm, the Ontario Australian Football League (OAFL) which was then known as the Canadian Australian Football League, was established later that year.
Soon after forming the OAFL, the pioneers of the league formed an affiliation with teams from the Australian Football League (AFL) and this affiliation brought forward the formation of two teams - the Toronto Panthers and the Mississauga Mustangs.
1989 was a trying year for the Toronto Panthers as they lost every game that season until the inaugural grand final which saw the Toronto Panthers begin a legacy of winning football. The Panthers would defeat the Mississauga Mustangs 65 to 48 in the grand final, winning the inaugural Conacher Cup. The Panthers would then go on to win the next two premierships, capturing three in a row amidst increasingly difficult competition.
At the end of 1991, amongst pressures of league expansion, many core Panthers left the club to form other teams. During these years, the team was pressured to recruit Canadian born players and introduce them to the game. In the next three years Toronto would fare well with one undefeated season, losing only by disqualification in the play-offs and another, which saw the Panthers once again make it all the way to the grand final.
By 1994, the Panthers were attracting many travelling or newly resided Australian players of top quality. That, combined with an exceptional base of talented Canadians players completed the rebuilding of their Championship squad.
1995 was a turning point for the Toronto Panthers Football Club as their new membership brought with it a new affiliation. The West Coast Eagles Football Club of the AFL would become the new sister club to the Toronto Panthers. That year the Toronto Panthers were reborn as the Toronto Eagles, trading their white with blue stripes for the blue and yellow colours of the West Coast Eagles. To assist the club with the transformation the West Coast Eagles would help by providing team uniforms and footballs, a gesture that was greatly appreciated by the club.