The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Memorable Game for 2011 is the Tasmanian Devils’ VFL home final against Geelong at Bellerive Oval in 2003. The Tasmanian Devils played six finals games in Tasmania in 2003, 2004 and 2005, all of which can be described as memorable.
The first home final against Geelong in 2003 is synonymous with a high achieving period for the Devils and Tasmanian football. The Tasmanian Devils’ first ever VFL final against Geelong saw the Devils achieve an unforgettable come-from-behind victory in front of nearly 5,000 fans to advance to a semi-final that was originally scheduled to be played in Melbourne. However, the VFL made the momentous decision to play the 2003 semi-final game at Bellerive Oval and were rewarded when a crowd that topped 10,000 watched Tasmania put up a valiant display against VFL powerhouse, Port Melbourne. The Devils led at three quarter time but were unable to contain the opposition in the final quarter and bowed out of the finals race.
In 2004 the Tasmanian Devils played their elimination final at York Park in Launceston against Bendigo. In another memorable night game the Devils overcame a small three quarter time deficit to achieve a 19-point win in front of 6,257 fans. The following week the semi-final game was again awarded to Tasmania by the VFL and another large crowd of more than 8,300 roared the Tasmanian Devils home in a last quarter blitz against North Ballarat. Overcoming a 20-point three quarter time deficit the Devils won by 15 points to earn a preliminary final berth in Melbourne.
In 2005 the Devils reached their third consecutive finals series in the VFL, despite winning only one of their first nine games of the season. The Devils went on to win the remaining nine roster games of the 2005 season and contest their third consecutive VFL finals series. The 2005 series saw the Devils defeat Frankston at Bellerive Oval in the first elimination final in front of 10,500 people. The VFL then scheduled a second home final for the Devils where 11,500 people packed Bellerive Oval. With 22,000 people attending two consecutive VFL finals games at Bellerive Oval in 2005 there was no doubt that the Tasmanian Devils were the most popular and successful sporting team in Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Devils were coached by Mathew Armstrong and the 2003 and 2004 seasons were the high points of an eight year program in the highly competitive VFL. Many champions of Tasmanian football represented the Devils during the period, including Trent Bartlett, Ben Beams, Justin Plapp, Cameron Thurley, Brett Geappen, Ian Callinan, Jason Heatley, Matthew Jovanovic and Ben Atkin. The Tasmanian Devils home final of 2003 against Geelong represents a golden period in Tasmanian football and deservedly takes its place amongst the ‘Memorable Games’ of Tasmanian football in the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.
VFL Elimination Final – 30th August 2003
Tasmania: 4.1 | 10.3 | 12.3 | 18.10 (118)
Geelong: 5.3 | 7.4 | 14.6 | 16.7 (103)
Best: J. Heatley, J. Cann, B. Robinson, S. Wager, B. Beams, J. Cripps.
Goals: J. Heatley 4, B. Beams 3, C. Thurley 2, B. Geappen 2, T. Bartlett 2, J. Cann, I. Callinan, M. Geappen,
B. Robinson, A. Derbyshire.