The Ulverstone Robins of 1976 were coached by former Geelong rover Ricky Graham. Graham had been part of the dominant Geelong teams of the 1960s and played in the 1967 VFL grand final loss to Richmond. He commenced his coaching career at New Norfolk in 1970 and took the Eagles to the TFL grand final and won the prestigious William Leitch Medal in 1972. However, when New Norfolk reconsidered their coaching options for 1973 the wily Robins swooped and achieved a significant coup.
The Robins slowly built a team around Ricky Graham that would deliver the ultimate football prize. By 1975 they were competing in the NWFU grand final, but went down to Harold Dowling’s Wynyard. With some highly selective recruiting which secured future state representatives in rover Peter King (Wynyard) and ruckman Gary Marshall (VFA), and the emergence of local key forwards in Kerry Good and Andrew Vanderfeen, the Robins went into season 1976 as the north-west coast’s team to beat.
At the pointy end of the 1976 season the Robins were never really challenged such was their dominance over Penguin, Sandy Bay and Launceston. In the four finals games they played they were only headed once at quarter time of the second semi-final and won the four games by an average of eight goals. The Robins defeated their local arch-rival to win the NWFU crown and then systematically dismantled the much-vaunted Sandy Bay, led by dual VFL premiership player, Paul Sproule. The Seagulls team of champions had no answers on how to play the tricky conditions at Devonport Oval and were so soundly beaten that it precipitated a long-winded decline of the state series.
The winning of the state premiership over Launceston at York Park was not an anti-climax as the Robins were out to cement their place in Tasmanian football history and were comfortable winners over a valiant Blues line-up who had won the northern title by a point in an upset. The Ulverstone Football Club’s 1976 state premiership team deservedly takes its place among the ‘Legendary Teams’ of Tasmanian football in the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.
Ulverstone’s Finals Campaign – 1976
NWFU Grand Final – 13th September
Ulverstone: 5.4 | 7.5 | 12.8 | 14.9 (93)
Penguiun: 0.1 | 3.10 | 4.13 | 7.19 (61)
Ulverstone: P. Maynard 3, A Vanderfeen 3, R. Graham 2, P. King 2, C. Williams 2, K. Good 1, K. Coy 1.
Penguin: K.King 3, W.McCarthy 1, T. Howard 1, P.Looney 1, C.Dunham 1, M.Williams 1.
Ulverstone: R. Graham, B. Good, M. Brocksopp, A. Vanderfeen, P. King, G. Marshall, R. White.
Penguin: W. Manson, T. Owens, K. King, P. French, P. Lade, C. Fielding, W. Fielding, G. McCarthy.
Tasmanian State Preliminary Final – 20th September
Ulverstone: 4.2 | 12.5 | 15.8 | 21.12 (138)
Sandy Bay: 1.3 | 4.6 | 7.14 | 9.15 | (69)
Ulverstone: K. Good 8, A. Vanderfeen 4, G. Marshall 2, P. King 2, C. Thomas 2, P. Davey 1, B. Johnson 1, K. Coy 1.
Sandy Bay: P. Sproule 3, M. Elliott 3, M. Sedden 2, Bennett 1.
Ulverstone: K. Good, B. Good, G. Marshall, A. Vanderfeen, P. King, A. Richardson.
Sandy Bay: P. Sproule, D. James, Ribbon, DiVenuotto, M. Elliott, M, Sedden.
Tasmanian State Premiership Final – 27th September
Ulverstone: 5.3 | 8.10 | 11.15 | 17.19 (121)
Launceston: 4.6 | 6.10 | 7.12 | 10.14 (74)
Ulverstone: A. Vanderfeen 8, K. Good 4, R. Graham 3, P. King 2, P. Maynard 1.
Launceston: B. Smith 4, G. Howell 2, P. Haughan 1, P. Tuthill 1, M. Brown 1, P. Patterson 1.
Ulverstone: R. Graham, G. Marshall, A. Vanderfeen, P. King, R. White, K. Good.
Launceston: P. Haughan, M. Brown, G. Hiscox, G. Tuthill, P. Tuthill, G. Howe.