Tasmanian Football League

The Tasmanian State League (TSL), colloquially known as the "Tasmanian Football League (TFL)" (formerly known as the "Tasmanian Australian National Football League (TANFL)" and several other short-term names) is the highest ranked Australian rules football league in Tasmania, Australia.

Tasmanian State League
Current season, competition or edition:
2018 TSL season
Formerly
SportAustralian rules football
FoundedJune 12, 1879 (1879-06-12)
No. of teams7
Country Australia
HeadquartersLaunceston
Most recent
champion(s)
North Launceston (2019)
Most titlesNorth Hobart
(27)
Official websitetasmanianstateleague.com.au

The league has a long and convoluted history which dates back to its founding on 12 June 1879 (giving it some claim to the title of the third oldest club football league in the world), but the name "TFL" (also the state's football governing body) was removed after it was liquidated with crushing debts in February 1999 and replaced by an independent commission (Football Tasmania) and the competition was renamed the Tasmanian State Football League (1999) and the SWL (2000) until the number of clubs in financial difficulty made the league unsustainable and it collapsed in December 2000. After long negotiations and discussions it was reinstated as a ten club competition in 2009.

The League is commercially known as the "RACT Insurance Tasmanian State League" under a naming-rights sponsorship agreement with RACT Insurance in Hobart.[1]

History

Post war years

In 1944, the Tasmanian Australian National Football League (TANFL) directors met to discuss restructuring of the league which was scheduled to return in 1945 after three seasons in recession due to World War II. The clubs would represent their various districts rather than being individual clubs.

Two new clubs (Hobart & Sandy Bay) would join North Hobart and New Town at the expense of Cananore and Lefroy which went out of existence during the World War II cessation.

In 1947 the TANFL voted to include a further two clubs (Clarence –formed in 1903– and New Norfolk –formed in 1878–) from the Southern District Football Association for a three-year probationary period. On 7 August 1950, the clubs unanimously voted to retain the two clubs as permanent members of the competition.

At the end of the 1956 season, New Town FC relocated itself to the municipality of Glenorchy and absorbed the already existing local club Glenorchy Rovers; on 8 April 1957 the TANFL ratified the club's new name as "Glenorchy District Football Club", its new home ground was the 1950-built KGV Park.[2]

This era would be the strongest one for the league with a succession of star players in its ranks, record crowds and huge public support.[3]

From 1979–1985 the TANFL would be known as the "Winfield League" under a naming-rights sponsorship arrangement with a tobacco company.

Statewide Football era: 1986-2000

Disbandment

The league disbanded due to a dwindling of clubs able to financially cope and fell under the umbrella of Football Tasmania (which was soon renamed AFL Tasmania).[4]

Three regional leagues absorbed the clubs from the Statewide League. This was represented by the 2 main North/South leagues and subsidiary regional leagues which underpinned the Tasmanian Devils VFL team, created in 2001 which was owned and funded by the Australian Football League and administered by AFL Tasmania.

Tasmanian State League

After a hiatus of eight years, AFL Tasmania announced plans for a return of the statewide league in 2009.[5]

The concept attracted widespread public and media debate on the return of a statewide competition, with many in the football world hesitant over such a move due to the perilous financial position most of the participating clubs were left in after the previous competition was disbanded in 2000.
Many believed the push for a return of the league was a direct result of the media and the Tasmanian State Government's strong campaign in getting a Tasmanian team admitted into the AFL.[6]

Under the AFL Tasmania plan, ten (10) clubs were invited to join the competition.[7]

Clarence, Glenorchy, Hobart and North Hobart along with former Southern amateur club Lauderdale in the South. North Launceston, South Launceston and Launceston from the North and Devonport and Burnie Dockers from the North-West Coast.

The response from many clubs was initially lukewarm at best with many concerned at the lack of detail in the AFL Tasmania plan and the rushed decision-making process of the move.

Ulverstone from the North West Coast bowed to pressure from its playing list and some factional groups within the club to put in a submission to join the competition in 2009. Despite a membership vote narrowly ending in favour of joining, the Robins had missed the AFL Tasmania enforced deadline and were initially to be included in the 2010 roster, however the remaining clubs (most notably its closest and most bitter rival Devonport) exerted considerable pressure upon the League not to alter the current makeup of teams for a period of ten years, therefore Ulverstone were excluded from joining.

SFL Premier League club Kingborough also lobbied AFL Tasmania to be included in the competition, but their case for inclusion was dismissed by the game's governing body due to their inadequate facilities and poor standard Kingston Beach Oval headquarters.[8] Former TFL club New Norfolk (1947–1999) was also not invited to join the league because of their poor financial position. Also, as a result of the new competition getting off the ground, the Tasmania Devils VFL team was disbanded.[9]

On 4 April 2009, the opening match of the reformed competition took place at King George V Park between the reigning premiers of the SFL Premier League, Glenorchy and reigning NTFL premier Launceston and resulted in a 21-point triumph to the Blues.

The inaugural Grand Final was held at Bellerive Oval on 19 September between old rivals Glenorchy and Clarence resulting in a thrilling 6-point victory to the Roos in front of 7,534 fans.

The 2010 season started brightly with over 12,000 attending the first round of matches but soon after there was a great deal of off-field controversy with former Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon originally accepting an unpaid role acting as a mediator between the clubs and AFL Tasmania as the relationship between the clubs and the governing body had become further strained. However, after only two weeks of the season, three clubs (Clarence, North Launceston and North Hobart) had decided to do their own bidding and Lennon walked away from the position.

There were further controversies, namely AFL Tasmania's decision to withdraw support for the Reserve grade competition after the Burnie Dockers announced only days before the start of the season that they would not be fielding a reserve grade side. Two other clubs (Hobart and Launceston) also struggled to field a reserves team throughout the season, and as a result the competition was run by the clubs themselves for the remainder of the season. It would be axed at season's end.

A finals set-up that included an extra week was roundly criticised by football pundits across the State and it failed to garner great enthusiasm amongst the footballing public as small crowds attended, with AFL Tasmania later admitting that they would be looking at returning to the more tradition Final Five set-up in 2011.

During the 2013 season, South Launceston decided that it would not pursue a new TSL licence at the end of the season, and arranged to move into the newest Northern Tasmanian Football Association in 2014; despite this, the club went on to win the 2013 premiership, meaning that there was no defending premier in 2014. The club was replaced by the Prospect State Football Club, which competes under the formal club name of Western Storm Football Club.[10] At the same time, the North Hobart Football Club was forced to disband as a team by AFL Tasmania in favour of the newly established Hobart City Football Club,[11] whilst the Hobart Tigers left for the Southern Football League.[12] These movements were forced upon the league to make space for a new AFL Tasmania backed TSL club, the Kingborough Tigers Football Club.[13]

Prior to 2016, the Western Storm was rebranded as the Prospect Hawks; but it was unable to field a senior team in 2016, managing only to field an uncompetitive team in the reserves, before being expelled from the league at the end of the 2016 season.[14] Prior to 2018, both north-western clubs – Burnie and Devonport – found themselves unable to viably field teams in the competition, with withdrew, reducing the size of the competition to seven teams.[15]

Clubs

The Tasmanian Football League operates on a single table system, with no divisions, conferences nor promotion and relegation from other leagues.

Current Clubs

Club Nickname Location Ground Debut Premier years Premiers
ClarenceKangaroosBelleriveBellerive Oval19471970, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009, 201011
GlenorchyMagpiesGlenorchyKGV Oval1921 [note 1]1935, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965, 1975, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1999, 201615
LauderdaleBombersLauderdaleLauderdale Oval
Bellerive Oval
20090
LauncestonBluesRiversideWindsor Park199420111
North HobartDemonsNorth HobartNorth Hobart Oval18811902, 1905, 1908, 1914, 1920, 1923, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1947, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1987, 1989, 1991, 199227
North LauncestonBombersInvermayAurora Stadium
Invermay Park
19861995, 1998, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 20197
TigersTigersKingstonTwin Ovals Complex18931930, 1933, 1936, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1980, 1991, 1995, 1997, 201115
Notes
  1. As "New Town FC.".

Locations

Past clubs

TFA/STFA/TANFL: 1879–1941

Club Years
Cananore1908–41
Lefroy1898–41
Cricketers1879-85
Derwent1906–07
New Town District1921–45
Railway1876–96
Kingston1893–1907
South Hobart1897
Wellington1898–1905
Holebrook1880–94
Union1887
Summerton1898
City1879–96

TANFL/TFL Statewide League: 1945–2000

Club Years
Hobart Football Club1945–1997
North Hobart FC1881–2000 [note 1]
Glenorchy District1945–2000 [note 2]
Clarence District FC1947–2000
New Norfolk District1947–1998 [note 3]
Sandy Bay1945–97
Southern Cats1998–99
East Launceston1986
South Launceston1986–97
North Launceston1986–2000 [note 4]
Launceston1994–97
Burnie Hawks1987–1994
Burnie Dockers1995–2000
Devonport1987–2000 [note 5]

TSL State League: 2009–2017

Club Years
Hobart FC2009–13
North Hobart FC2009–13
South Launceston2009–13
Prospect Hawks2014–16 [note 6]
Devonport FC2009–17
Burnie Dockers2009–17
Notes
  1. 1999-2000 as "Hobart Demons"
  2. 1945-56 as "New Town District FC"; 1957–2000 as "Glenorchy District FC".
  3. 1947–98 as "New Norfolk District FC"; 1999 as "Derwent Eagles FC".
  4. 1986–97 as "North Launceston FC"; 1998–2000 as "Northern Bombers FC".
  5. 1987–96 as "Devonport Blues"; 1997–2000 as "Devonport Power"
  6. 2014-15 as "Western Storm"; 2016 as "Prospect Hawks", with reserves team only.

League Presidents

President Period
Mr W.L Giblin1879–86
Sir L.Dobson1887–93
Sir E.Braddon1894–96
Mr H.Dobson MHA1897
Mr A.I Clark1898–99
Mr C.J.Eady1900–08
Mr A.Hearne1909–16
Mr W.B Propsting1917–24
Mr C.J Eady MLC1925–41
Mr W.Arnold1942–49
Mr M.A.S McNeair OBE1950–74
Mr R.T Butler1975–77
Mr D.A Burton1977–79
Mr D.Fenton1979–80
Mr J.Bennett1981–85
Mr D.Smith1986–91
Mr J.Wilkinson QC1991
Mr B.Breen1992–95
Mr R.Hampson1996–98
Mr B.Greenhill1999–2000
Mr S.Wade2000, 2009–11
Mr S.Young2012–14
C.Saunder2016-

Premierships, leading goalkickers and records

Since the first championship held in 1879, North Hobart has won the most premiers with 27 titles. The first champion ever was City FC, a club now defunct.

Timeline (1945–present)

Individual awards

Alistair Lynch Medal Winners

Formerly known as the Tassie Medal, presented to the Best and Fairest player in the Tasmanian State League from 2009.[16]

Year Player Club
2009Kurt Heazlewood(Devonport)
2010Brett Geappen(Clarence)
2011Tim Bristow(Launceston)
2012Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2013Mitch Thorp(South Launceston)
2014Daniel Roozendaal(North Launceston)
2015Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2016Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2017Bradley Cox-Goodyer(North Launceston)
2018Josh Ponting(North Launceston)

Peter Hudson Medal Winners

Presented to the Leading Goalkicker in the Tasmanian State League from 2009.[17]

Year Player Club
2009Brad Dutton(Clarence)
2010Brian Finch(Launceston)
2011Brian Finch(Launceston)
2012Mitch Williamson(Clarence)
2013Sonny Whiting(Launceston)
2014Aaron Cornelius(Glenorchy)
2015Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2016Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2017Jaye Bowden(Glenorchy)
2018Mitch Thorp(Launceston)

Former Individual Awards

Wilson Bailey Trophy Winners

It was presented to the best and fairest player in the TFL/TANFL from 1927 until 1929. It was replaced by the William Leitch Medal in 1930.

Year Player Club
1927K.Roberts(New Town)
1928G.Cole(New Town)
1929A.Leitch(New Town)

George Watt Medallists

It was presented to the best and fairest player in the TANFL from 1935 until 1939. It replaced the William Leitch Medal although it ended up being replaced by it in 1940

Year Player Club
1935L.Powell(North Hobart)
1936E.Zschech(Lefroy)
1937L.Pye &
E.Zschech
(North Hobart)
(Lefroy)
1938L.Pye(North Hobart)
1939E.Zschech(Lefroy)

William Leitch Medal

The William Leitch medal was presented to the best & fairest player in the TANFL/TFL Statewide League from 1930–1934 and 1940–2000.
As of 2009 when the Tasmanian State League was revived, AFL Tasmania decided to award the Tassie Medal to the best and fairest player in the revamped competition as it was seen (particularly in the North) that the William Leitch medal was too Hobart-centric. The medal continues to be presented to the best and fairest player in the Southern Football League since 2004.

Audience

Media

Official Magazine

Currently there is no official magazine for games during the 2014 season. A new provider and TSL Record is currently being re-designed for the 2015 season and beyond through Tall Zebra Media.

Television

The ABC and TVT6 (Now WIN Tasmania) have broadcast the league previously.

All Tasmanian based stations have news and results shown regularly in their news broadcasts. Southern Cross report full-time scores from the TFL as well as other leagues around the state during the half time break of their Saturday night AFL broadcast.

Radio

League matches were formerly broadcast on radio from 1931 to 2000, however there are currently no radio broadcasts of TFL football with the exception of the Grand Final and the occasional roster game on ABC Local Radio which is also streamed online.

Newspapers

The Hobart Mercury in the South, The Examiner in Launceston and the North as well as The Advocate on the North West Coast all provide extensive coverage of TSL football in their publications.

Attendance

The Tasmanian Football league crowds compete heavily with AFL matches on television. Crowds at the beginning of the season are usually quite high and are up with the mainland state football competitions. Attendances usually slide considerably until it will increase during the finals. Night games, especially ones that do not clash with AFL matches are well attended.

Patrons at TFL games pay at the gates or hold club season passes.

See also

References


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