2012 Great Club – Lefroy / Sandy Bay Football Club

The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Great Club for 2012 is the Lefroy / Sandy Bay Football Club.

Lefroy Football Club was formed in Hobart in 1898 when football in southern Tasmania was at a low ebb and new clubs were needed to produce a viable competition. Known as the ‘Blues’, Lefroy wore a dark and light blue strip and played its home games at North Hobart Oval and the Tasmanian Cricket Association ground. From 1898 to 1941 Lefroy played at the highest level in Tasmania and was a key member of the Tasmanian Football League, enjoying premiership success on nine occasions at regional level and collecting two Tasmanian state premierships in 1912 and 1924.

Although Lefroy Football Club existed for less than half a century, its impact on Tasmanian football was striking. From the start the Club played an exciting brand of football and its on-field enthusiasm was instrumental in enticing spectators back to the code during the early 1900s. The rapid improvement in the standard of Tasmanian football at this time has been credited to Lefroy, who along with North Hobart and Cananore – the two other members of the TFL at the time – were playing a tougher and more imaginative style of football. When Lefroy overcame North Launceston in 1912 to secure its first official state premiership the Club was described as “showing an excellent combination of pace and brilliance, with every member of the team working with clock-like precision and unbounded enthusiasm”. In the years that followed Tasmanian clubs were depleted by the call of the armed forces. Nonetheless, Lefroy enjoyed several moments of glory during the 1920s and 1930s, most notably a second state premiership victory in 1924 over NTFA premier side Launceston. In 1941 football went into recess for three seasons due to World War Two restrictions and player shortages. Upon resuming in 1945 the Tasmanian Football League moved to ‘district football’ and the Sandy Bay Football Club was born. The Seagulls, as Sandy Bay were nicknamed, drew from the remnants of Lefroy’s playing group to build a premiership-winning side, triumphantly taking out the state title in 1946.

The old players of Lefroy formed an association to carry on the name of the Club and from 1953 supported Tasmanian football with the awarding of a gold medal for the best and fairest player representing Tasmania. The Lefroy Medal is still awarded to this day to the best player each year in Tasmanian representative games.

In the period from 1945 until 1997 the Seagulls carried on a great football tradition filled with tragedy and triumph. In 1952, under the leadership of Tasmanian football Icon Terry Cashion, the Club tasted grand final triumph against Hobart, and again in 1964 against New Norfolk. However, it was during the 1970s that Sandy Bay Football Club really came into its own, embarking on a sustained period of dominance that few TFL clubs have matched. Sandwiched between third place finishes in 1970 and 1979, the Seagulls contested eight consecutive grand finals for five wins and three losses. In this golden era, under the memorable coaching of Rod Olsson and Paul Sproule, Sandy Bay Football
Club was virtually indomitable.

Although the Sandy Bay Club is now in recess and the Lefroy Club has long gone from active participation in football, their combined history of achievements will live on as one of the truly great clubs of Tasmanian Football.

TFL Grand Finals – 1971 to 1978
Year Premiers Score Runner Up Score Crowd
1971 Sandy Bay 18.13 (121) Clarence 16.16 (112) 20364
1972 Sandy Bay 18.9 (117) New Norfolk 10.14 (74) 17304
1973 Hobart 11.19 (85) Sandy Bay 10.5 (65) 14720
1974 North Hobart 21.10 (136) Sandy Bay 15.18 (108) 16234
1975 Glenorchy 15.16 (106) Sandy Bay 10.7 (67) 15449
1976 Sandy Bay 21.10 (136) Glenorchy 5.9 (39) 10681
1977 Sandy Bay 19.9 (123) Glenorchy 5.14 (44) 12960
1978 Sandy Bay 11.14 (80) Glenorchy 9.15 (69) 18662

 

Sandy Bay Football Club official ‘Best 25 Players’ announced in July 2001
Andy Bennett Paul Burnell Murray Steele
Bob Lewis Roger Steele Noel Ruddock
Geoff Whitton Des James Noel Leary
Warren Smart Mike Clennett Michael Seddon
Kerry Doran Tony Martyn Chris Saunders
Gordon Bowman Dale Flint Ernie Pilkington
Roger Chapman Rex Geard Rob Olsson
Michael Elliott Ian Rumney
Ian Westell Graeme Mackey