The TFL centenary grand final of 1979 between Clarence and Glenorchy is famous for a variety of reasons:
> It celebrated 100 years of football in Hobart and Southern Tasmania;
> A record Tasmanian football crowd of 24,698 was in attendance;
> The game involved a heart-stopping finish and a glorious triumph for the underdogs, Clarence;
> It marked the retirement of Tasmanian legend Peter Hudson.
The game was the start of a period of dominance for Clarence and the first time that Clarence and Glenorchy had met in a grand final. Their rivalry was to grow over the ensuing decades and saw them go head to head again in the 1984 and 1985 TFL grand finals with further close finishes.
The captain of the Clarence team, Noel Leary, who was inducted into the Tasmanian Hall of Fame in 2005, spoke about the TFL centenary grand final as one of the greatest moments of his career. Mr Leary said: “The Clarence versus Glenorchy game in 1979 was one of the greatest highlights if not the greatest of my career. It was a special moment to achieve our victory on an occasion which was memorable for so many reasons for Tasmanian football.”
Centenary Grand Final
Clarence: 3.4 9.6 10.8 12.11 (83)
Glenorchy: 4.7 6.8 10.13 11.14 (80)
Venue: North Hobart Oval
Umpires: L. Manson & G. Clements
Attendance: 24,698 (record)
Clarence: G. French, N. Moorcroft, T. Triffitt, C. Riewoldt, N. Leary, R. Hughes.
Glenorchy: A. Barwick, R. Dykes, G. Linton, C. Martin, P. Hudson, J. Pilkington.
Clarence: N. Moorcroft (3), D. Garlick (2), A. Vanderfeen (2), T. Chadwick, S. Giffard, R. Kelly, W. McKay, M. Tyson.
Glenorchy: P. Hudson (6), S. McCann (2), K. Excell, G. Thirgood, T. Woodham.
B: Robin Norris, Chris Spaulding, Greg Doyle
HB: Ross Burns, Noel Leary, Tony Triffitt
C: Tony Chadwick, Greg French, Warren McKay
HF: Neil Moorcroft, Andrew Vanderfeen, Michael Tyson
F: Rod Kelly, David Garlick, Chris Riewoldt
Ruck: Stephen Bennett, Shane Giffard, Rod Hughes
Res. David Cashion, Tim Howard
Coach: Noel Leary
B: Craig Martin, Steve McCann, Rodney Franks
HB: Murray Studley, Robbie Dykes, Mark Johnston
C: Kim Excell, John Moles, Tony Barwick
HF: Gary Linton, Roland Curley, Scott Lamont
F: Ian Bremner, Peter Hudson, Tim Woodham
Ruck: John Pilkington, Greg Thirgood, Danny Ling
Res. Don Holland, Anthony Sansom
Coach: Jack Rough
Clarence – TFL Centenary Premiers, 1979
CLARENCE FOOTBALL CLUB 1979 (L-R): Noel Leary, Stuart Bennett, Chris Riewoldt, David Garlick, Andrew Vanderfeen, Robin Norris, Chris Spaulding, Ross Burns, Tony Triffett, Shane Giffard, David Cashion, Warren Mackay, Greg French, Michael Tyson, Rod Hughes, Neil Moorcroft, Rod Kelly, Geoff Doyle, Tony Chadwick, Tim Howard
TFL Centenary Grand Final 1979 – Clarence vs. Glenorchy: Game Description
By Tim Rowland
Setting the Scene
In 1979 the much-despised Glenorchy Magpies swept all before them in the home-and-away season. Their only two losses for the year were to their grand final opponents, the Clarence Roos, and both had been at Bellerive, the Roos’ home ground and graveyard of many a visiting team. Furthermore the Pies had demolished the Roos by eight goals in a canter in the second semi-final a fortnight earlier. Having lost the past three grand finals to Sandy Bay, the Pies vowed there would be no distractions this time and so they prevented their players from attending the William Leitch Medal count and banned them from the media. It was also touted as being the final game for legendary full forward Peter Hudson, whose outstanding goalkicking had made the Pies appear unbeatable. To cap it all off, it was the centenary of the TFL and thus a truly historic day for football in Hobart.
There was no such thing as reserved seating at North Hobart in 1979 so large queues had formed when the gates opened at 7.30am. By 8.30am the 5,000 available seats were occupied and newcomers had to find a spot in the standing area. By the time the main match started 24,698 people were crammed into the ground, a record that still stands for attendance at a football match in Tasmania. Given that Hobart’s population at the time was around 150,000 this was an enormous turnout. The Magpies’ build-up and general season-long arrogance had antagonised the public and of the 25,000 fans at least three-quarters were hoping the Roos could scare the Pies.
All regulation stuff as the Pies withstood the fierce early pressure to lead by nine points. I, like many at the ground, thought four quarters by nine points is 36 points; it could be worse.
Generally it is the third quarter that is the ‘premiership’ quarter but on this day it was the second quarter that was to transform the psyche of the day. After 20 minutes the Pies still led but only by eight points as the Roos battled hard. We were at least getting a contest but it seemed inevitable the Pies would pull away. Then the Roos goaled twice in quick succession to take the lead and the crowd was abuzz. A hopeful “Clarence!” chant swept the ground. The players responded and third, fourth and fifth goals followed. Clarence by 22 points—was this a dream? The Pies pulled one back after the siren but unbelievably the underdogs were 16 points in front at half time. All through the break there was an incredible buzz of excited chatter as people wondered out loud: “Clarence couldn’t actually win, could they?”
A breeze sprang up and the Pies kicked to the scoring end. Just like the first quarter play was tough and the pressure intense but the superior skills of the Magpies began to tell and by the final change they had wrested back the lead by four points. Did the Roos have any petrol left in the tank? Would the Pies run away with the match in the final term?
As the teams huddled at the final break the skies opened and torrential rain began to fall. It eased a little by the time the final quarter began but the ground had been transformed into a muddy skating rink. Who wanted to win the flag the most? An early goal to Clarence grabbed back the lead. The crowd was at fever pitch and the play see-sawed from end to end with no reward. Fifteen minutes in, Peter Hudson soccered the ball off the ground and it went through for a goal. The Pies were back in front! Time ticked away as the weary players fought every desperate contest as if their lives depended on it and every spectator roared and cheered and groaned with every bump and slip and slide. Twenty-four minutes gone and the Hudson fairytale scenario seemed complete—it looked like his soccer goal ten minutes earlier was to be the match winner as the Pies clung grimly to a three-point lead.
Clarence surged forward once more and ‘Bumpy’ Triffitt gathered the loose ball 50 metres out. On a good day he could kick it 30 metres with limited accuracy. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Triffitt roosted the sodden ball goalwards and it floated forward and through the legs of a Glenorchy defender where it was kicked through for a goal by Tony Chadwick. The Roos were in front! The roar from the crowd was sustained and deafening. The famous old North Hobart ground shook to its foundations. The seconds ticked away, the siren sounded, the underdogs had won!
The Wrap Up
Glenorchy had slumped to its fourth consecutive grand final defeat but this one hurt the most as they had been raging hot favourites. They were to lose a fifth consecutive grand final the following year before finally ending the pain with a flag in 1983.
Clarence as a club emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon in 1979. Up until then they had won just one previous premiership and had a record of failure. After the heroics of 1979 Clarence became one of the power clubs of Tasmanian football with several premierships in the TFL, the Statewide Football League and most recently the Southern Football League.
For football in Hobart this was as good as it got: the celebration of a century of football, a record crowd, a heart-stopping match, a glorious triumph for the underdog, and the passing of a legend with the retirement of Peter Hudson.
Truly one of the great and memorable games of Tasmanian Football.