2005 Memorable Game – Tasmania vs. Victoria, 1960

This game is famous as being the first victory by a Tasmanian team against the might of Victoria in interstate football and was watched by a then-record Tasmanian football crowd of 15,600 at York Park in Launceston on 13 June 1960.

The game also featured many champions of Tasmanian and Victorian football, including Don Gale, Barry Strange, Bob Withers, Stuart Spencer and Frank Johnson (All Australians); and Hugh Mitchell, John Birt, Ken Fraser, John Winneke, Murray Weideman, Athol Webb, Verdun Howell, Billy Goggin, John Peck and Geoff Case (VFL premiership players).

The captain of the Tasmanian team, Stuart Spencer, a member of the AFL Hall of Fame, spoke about the victory against Victoria as one of the greatest moments of his career. Mr Spencer said: “The Tasmania versus Victoria game in 1960 was one of the greatest highlights if not the greatest of my career. It was a special moment to lead my adopted state of Tasmania to such an important victory and the memory lives with me.”

Interstate Game Date: 13 June
Tasmania: 4.5 7.6 10.8 13.13 (91)
Victoria: 1.6 5.10 8.11 12.12 (84)
Venue: York Park
Umpire: Frank Schwab
Attendance: 15,600
Gate: £ 3,822

Best:
Tasmania: S. Spencer, D. Gale, B. Loring, R. Geard, C. Moore, J. Fitzallen, N. Conlan, D. Lester, G. Smith.
Victoria: K. Fraser, F. Johnson, V. Howell, H. Mitchell, B. Comben, R. Grimmond, K. Jones, P. Guinnane.
Goals:
Tasmania: C. Moore (4), R. Withers (2), B. Payne (2), A. Webb, T. Shadbolt, J. Hawksley, N. Conlan, G. Smith.
Victoria: H. Mitchell (2), M. Weideman (2), W. Goggin (2), K. Fraser (2), J. Peck, B. Comben, M. Oaten, F. Johnson.

Team Lists

Tasmania
B: Casey Lawrence, Brian Loring, Don Gale
HB: Max Kelleher, Barry Strange, Murray Steele
C: John Fitzallen, Ken Sheehan, Dicky Lester
HF: Neil Conlan, John Hawksley, Colin Moore
F: Burnie Payne, Athol Webb, Garth Smith
Ruck: Rex Geard, Terry Shadbolt, Stuart Spencer
Res.George Mason, Bob Withers
Coach: Jack Metherall

Victoria
B: Bruce Comben, Verdun Howell, John Winneke
HB: Geoff Case, Paddy Guinnane, Ken Jones
C: Dick Grimmond, Lance Oswald, Laurie Dwyer
HF: Ken Fraser, Max Oaten, Graham Campbell
F: John Peck, Murray Weideman, John Birt
Ruck: Frank Johnson, Hugh Mitchell, Billy Goggin
Res. John O’Connell, Ray Walker
Coach: Bruce Comben

The Tassie team that downed the ‘Big V’

 

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BACK ROW (L-R): J. Fitzallen, M. Pascoe (DNP), S. Morcom (DNP), I. Hayes (DNP), J. Ross (DNP), R. Geard, D. Parremore (DNP).
THIRD ROW (L-R): N. Conlan, G. Smith, T. Shadbolt, M. Lawrence, G. Mason, C. Moore, B. Strange, B. Payne
SECOND ROW (L-R): J. Pelham (Trainer), D. Gale, K. Sheehan, J. Hawksley (Vice Captain), J. Metherell (Coach), S. Spencer (Captain), A. Webb, B. Loring, D. Lewis (Manager)
FRONT ROW (L-R): M. Kelleher, M. Steel, R. Withers, D. Lester
DNP – Did not play.

Tasmania vs. Victoria, 1960: Game Description

Tasmanian football reached its greatest heights at York Park, Launceston on 13 June 1960, with the first of only two wins over Victoria in interstate football at the highest level.

The Tasmanian public turned out in their thousands to witness the great victory by a Tasmanian team that was minus a number of stars, including Darrel Baldock. Tasmania played a Victorian ‘B’ which was nonetheless full of star players including Ken Fraser, Murray Weideman, Bill Goggin, John Birt, Laurie Dwyer, John Peck, Frank Johnson, Hugh Mitchell, champion Tasmanian Verdun Howell and captain-coach Bruce Comben.

Exhibiting great pace and combining with greater effectiveness than their opponents Tasmania jumped the ‘big V’ with four goals to one in the opening term, and thereafter the Victorians were always playing ‘catch up’ football.

With former Melbourne rover Stuart Spencer prominent Tasmania maintained its dominance during the second and third terms, but as the fourth quarter opened there were signs that the Victorians were at last starting to find form. With Essendon’s Ken Fraser controlling the pivot and club-mate Hugh Mitchell marking everything that came his way, the Victorians hit the front midway through the final term and from that point on might reasonably have been expected to run away with affairs (after all, this was what almost invariably happened where VFL interstate sides were concerned).

However, with more than 15,000 Tasmanians baying for Victorian blood it was the home side which suddenly lifted a notch, and, in a desperate move, the VFL’s captain-coach ‘Bugsy’ Comben ordered his players to stack the back lines. This proved to be a costly mistake as Tasmania were able to exploit the spaces created elsewhere on the ground and surge to a seven-point victory.

Perhaps the most ironic feature of the match was that arguably the two best players afield were Victorian Stuart Spencer, playing for his adopted state of Tasmania, and the VFL’s Taswegian centre half back Verdun Howell.

There were many other great efforts by the Tasmanians. The early dominance of All Australian Frank Johnson was overcome when Rex Geard, with the support of Garth Smith, lifted to balance the ledger in the ruck duels. With the early injury to Ken Sheehan, Bob Withers entered the fray on the forward line and helped the half-forwards of Tasmania, including John Hawksley and Colin Moore to be most productive. The move of champion Neil Conlan into the centre to join Stuart Spencer, and pacy wingman John Fitzallen and Denis Lester, gave Tasmania a regular supply of the ball. The surprise of the game for Tasmania was the achievement of Cooee full back Brian Loring blanketing the bigger and stronger Murray Weideman to such an extent that he had to be moved off him. He was well supported by all the backmen, but none more so than All Australian back pocket Don Gale.

The win was in some senses the culmination of a great career for Tasmania’s coach, Jack Metherell, a West Australian who had earlier played in the VFL with Geelong, and coached North Hobart with great success. Metherell was a stickler for hard work and team discipline, attributes that his charges consistently exhibited to optimum effect on arguably the most auspicious afternoon in Tasmanian football history.