Football in the New Town area of Hobart has its origins dating back to 1878, only a few years after the formation of the officially recognised oldest Tasmanian senior club in Launceston (formed 1875).
The New Town Football Club finally found its way into the premier senior body, the Tasmanian Football League (TFL), in 1919 as a junior team and was then afforded full status in 1921. After an arduous early period the club found success in 1935, brilliantly led by the iconic Roy Cazaly to win its first premiership in the TFL,.
In the period after World War Two the TFL expanded into a ‘district’ format and the New Town FC became a recognised powerhouse of Tasmanian football and remained so for the whole of the 1950s. The club had adopted the Magpie emblem and nickname in the late 1940s and by 1957 had decided to merge and relocate to Glenorchy to its current home at King George V Oval (KGV).
It was at this time that the newly named Glenorchy District Football Club became synonymous with the newly forming working class northern suburbs of Hobart. The club enjoyed a golden era in the 1950s but the years from 1959 to 1974 were lean ones with only the one title coming to KGV in 1965, under the coaching of Bob Parsons.
The Magpies second ‘golden era’ was almost pre-ordained once Peter Hudson was secured as coach for the 1975 season. The champion Tasmanian goalkicker led a talented team to victory in the TFL decider against Sandy Bay and then to a memorable and fiery victory in the state grand final against North Launceston. The club then became a grand final fixture, contesting no less than 13 grand finals over 14 seasons. The silverware return was a further three premierships (with victories in 1983, 1985 and 1986 to add to 1975). There was no doubt that the Glenorchy Magpies were one of the powerhouses of Tasmanian football.
With the arrival of a statewide league in Tasmania in the mid-1980s the Glenorchy Club continued its dominant position but was unable to secure further premierships. Having been runner-up in 1987 and 1988 the Magpies went into a decade long decline. This was arrested just in time for the club to secure the 1999 statewide league pennant under the guidance of former Essendon player Paul Hamilton.
With the return to regional football in 2001 the Magpies enjoyed finals football on a more regular basis in the southern premier league culminating with a double premiership in 2007 and 2008.
Home ground: King George V Oval, Glenorchy.
Formed: 1919 as New Town Football Club; became Glenorchy District Football Club in 1957 following a merger with Glenorchy Football Club.
Colours: Black and white (originally green and gold).
> Affiliated: TANFL 1921-85; TFL statewide 1986-2000; Southern Tasmanian Football League 2001-08; Tasmanian State League 2009 to present.
> Premiership wins:
– Association premierships: 1935, 1948-49, 1951, 1953, 1955-56, 1958, 1965, 1975, 1983, 1985-86, 1999, 2007-8.
– State premierships: 1948, 1956, 1958, 1965, 1975, 1999.
Other achievements of the club have been:
> All Australians: Barry Strange (1956).
> Wilson Bailey Trophy winners: K. Roberts 1927; G. Cole 1928; A. Leitch 1929.
> William Leitch Medallists: E. Hanlon 1933; R. Garwood 1951; T. Sprigg 1975; P. Hudson 1978 and 1979; G. Linton 1980; A. Fletcher 1988; B. Atkin 1999; D. Newett 2005; J. Crouch.
> Leading goalkickers:
– TFL top goalkickers: H. Smith (46) 1928; D. Kenna (55) 1933; A. Cook (58) 1946; A. Park (73) 1949; D. Sutton (73) 1972; F. Ogle (55) 1974; P. Hudson (76) 1975, (133) 1976, (153) 1978 and (179) 1979; S. Fell (114) 1989.
– SFL top goalkickers: S. Salter (65) 2004.
> Highest score: 34.21 (225) vs. Hobart at KGV Football Park in round 20, 1983.
> Most games: 312 by Kevin Baker.
> Record home attendance: 6,520 in round 14, 1966: Clarence 7.8 (50) vs. Glenorchy 5.12 (42).
> Record finals attendance: 24,968 for the 1979 grand final at North Hobart Oval: Clarence 12.11 (83) vs. Glenorchy 11.14 (80).
TEAM OF THE CENTURY
Backs: Roland Curley, Roy Witzerman, Allan Leitch.
Half Backs: Trevor Sprigg, Barry Strange, Robert Dykes.
Centres: Ben Atkin, Neil Conlan, Michael Styles (captain).
Half Forwards: John Klug, Max Griffiths, David Pearce.
Forwards: Danny Ling, Peter Hudson, Gary Linton.
1st Ruck: Jack Rough, Rex Garwood, Ron Marney.
Interchange: Kevin Baker, Adrian Fletcher, Max McMahon, Michael Mansfield, John Chick, Kevin Morgan, Denis Lester.
Coach: Roy Cazaly.
Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame inductees: Ben Atkin, Bill Berryman, Hector Brooks, Terry Cashion, Roy Cazaly, John Chick, Neil Conlan, Gary Davidson, Colin Deane, Keith Dickenson, Robbie Dykes, Brian Eade, Rodney Eade, Adrian Fletcher, Wayne Fox, Leslie Fyle, Rex Garwood, Peter Hudson, Eric Huxtable, Allan Leitch, Danny Ling, Gary Linton, Andy Lovell, Bob Parsons, Jack Rough, Alan Scott, Barry Strange, Darryl Sutton.
Club Legends/Notable Players: Kevin Baker, Hector Brooks, Terry Cashion, Roy Cazaly, John Chick, Neil Conlan, Colin Deane, Robbie Dykes, Rodney Eade, Adrian Fletcher, Rex Garwood, Max Griffiths, Peter Hudson, Eric Huxtable, Brian Kelly, Allan Leitch, Ron Marney, Bill Mayman, Len ‘Tiny’ Mills, Dan Minogue, Freddy Odgers, Bob Parsons, Jack Rough, Trevor Sprigg, Barry Strange, Darryl Sutton, Roy Witzerman.
The first club bearing the name of the Hobart district of New Town was actually formed as early as 1878, but it was not until 1919 that a club of that name participated in the TFL, albeit only at junior level. After achieving outstanding success at this level, the club was admitted to senior ranks in 1921, but once there it found success much harder to come by. Indeed it was not until 1935 that New Town broke through to record its first senior premiership with an 18.9 (117) to 15.13 (103) win over North Hobart in front of a crowd of 6,021. One of the stars of the win was New Town’s captain-coach, the legendary Roy Cazaly, who was ably supported by Langford (7 goals), the Rooke brothers, and Ferguson.
The 1935 triumph was to be New Town’s only success prior to the TANFL’s introduction of district football in 1944. Since then, however, the club has enjoyed regular premiership success. Officially reconstituted as the New Town District Football Club when the district system was implemented in 1945, the club also discarded its old green and gold playing uniforms in favour of black and white. The side’s first post-war grand final appearance came in 1946, but Sandy Bay were comfortable winners by 42 points, 12.16 (88) to 5.16 (46).
In 1948 Roy Cazaly returned to the club as non-playing coach and reaped immediate success. In the grand final that year New Town defeated North Hobart by 16 points in a hard, slogging game of poor standard in which numerous injuries were sustained. Final scores were 11.15 (81) to 9.11 (65), with Fox, Smith (5 goals), Kelly, Tonks and Conway among New Town’s best. The team then went on to claim the state premiership thanks to a two-point defeat of NTFL premier North Launceston at North Hobart Oval.
The 1949 season brought back-to-back flags after a 10.8 (68) to 4.12 (36) grand final win over Hobart. Kelly, Rough, Witzerman and Loring were the best players. In the state premiership play-off, however, North Launceston achieved revenge for the 1948 result with an emphatic victory at York Park.
A two-point grand final defeat against Hobart in 1950 was followed a year later by a 20.14 (134) to 9.9 (63) annihilation of North Hobart for the club’s most convincing premiership victory to date. New Town was particularly well served on this occasion by Fox, Garwood, Scott, Chick, Conway and Lewis (7 goals). The state premiership was not contested in 1951, but New Town would surely have been hard to beat if their form in the grand final was anything to go on.
Bill Fox took over from Cazaly as coach in 1952 but he lasted only a year as the side slumped to third. The following season, however, under Fox’s replacement, Jack Rough, the side returned to the top with an 11-point triumph over a resilient Sandy Bay combination. The Magpies’ best in their 16.18 (114) to 15.13 (103) triumph included Garwood, Strange, Lewis, Conlan and Robson.
Hobart took the honours by ten points in the 1954 grand final but this proved to be just a temporary hiatus as New Town roared back to claim successive flags in 1955 and 1956. The 1955 grand final was a ‘revenge’ mission with Hobart the victims by 35 points, 15.11 (101) to 8.18 (66). Best players for New Town included Stockell, Strange, Rough, Johnston and Shadbolt. A year later New Town and North Hobart treated a 12,000 strong crowd to a nail-biting tussle in which New Town led by less than a goal at every change before squeezing home by just three points, 8.7 (55) to 7.10 (52). Despite inclement weather conditions it was a high standard game with Webster, Eade, Griffiths, Lewis and Rough shining for New Town. The side went on to win its second state premiership this year, making up for a disappointing failure in 1955.
Another highlight of the 1956 season was Barry Strange’s selection in the All Australian team selected after the Perth Carnival. Strange remains–and is likely ever to remain–the only New Town/Glenorchy player to be so honoured.
The 1957 season was a seminal one in the club’s development as it saw a relocation to the King George V Oval in Glenorchy and, following an amalgamation with the club already based there, a re-christening as the Glenorchy District Football Club. On the field the team continued to do well, losing the 1957 grand final by two goals against North Hobart before, in 1958, annexing another premiership with a 15.15 (105) to 11.11 (77) defeat of Sandy Bay. Conlan, Johnston, Eade, Siely and Churchill were among the best players in a side that went on to lift the state premiership with wins over Longford in Hobart and Burnie at Devonport.
A plethora of injuries saw the Magpies slump to the unaccustomed indignity of last place (of six) in 1959, and when this performance was repeated after a comparatively injury free 1960 season the club hierarchy decided to ring the changes. Former player John Chick returned as senior coach in 1961 after a 119 game, 29 goal VFL career with Carlton and under his astute guidance the Magpies played off in the grand final, losing by 36 points to North Hobart. This proved to be something of a false dawn, however, as the side slipped down the ladder to fifth in 1962 before collecting another wooden spoon a year later.
Bob Parsons succeeded Chick as coach in 1964 and after a season of re-building the side broke through for a premiership in 1965 thanks to a 10.15 (75) to 6.8 (44) victory over North Hobart. Best players were Marney, McMahon, Kingston, Johnston and Baker. A win in the state premiership at the expense of Scottsdale followed. Parsons guided Glenorchy to another grand final a year later but the result was a soul-destroying one-point loss to Hobart. However, Parsons commented that “all things considered 1966 was a happy and successful year for the club and to reach the grand final was indeed an achievement.”
The 1967 season brought a second successive grand final loss, this time against North Hobart by 14 points, and thereafter it gradually became clear that the team was on the slide. Fourth place in 1968 was followed by a drop to fifth in 1969 under new coach Graeme Gahan. When this result was repeated in 1970 Gahan departed to be replaced by experienced East Fremantle player and Western Australian interstate representative Trevor Sprigg, but in four seasons as coach he was unable to lift the side above third position.
The big news prior to the start of the 1975 season was the appointment of Tasmania’s and one of Australia’s greatest ever goalkickers, Peter Hudson, as senior coach. Hudson was to have a pronounced impact on the team’s fortunes, both as coach and player. In the latter capacity he kicked 81 goals for the year to top the league list, while in the former he steered the Magpies to their first grand final in eight years and their first premiership in ten. Glenorchy’s victims on grand final day were Sandy Bay. Hudson kicked seven goals to be one of his side’s best players, while other stand-outs included 1975 Leitch Medallist Sprigg–obviously revelling in his new-found freedom from the burdens of coaching–Parish, Linton and Johannsen. After adding the state premiership to that of the TFL the Magpies journeyed to Adelaide for the Australian Club Championships where they performed creditably in sustaining only narrow losses to Norwood and West Perth.
With Hudson still at the helm a year later there seemed good reason for optimism but the side foundered badly on grand final day against Sandy Bay, going down by 97 points. It was a similar story in 1977 under Jack Rough, with the Seagulls’ grand final winning margin on that occasion being 91 points. The 1978 grand final was a much more evenly contested affair, but not even the return of the mighty Peter Hudson to the Glenorchy camp could prevent Sandy Bay from registering an 11-point triumph.
The 1979 season brought a fifth successive grand final appearance and a change of opponent in Clarence. However, there was no change in fortune as the Roos won by three points thereby consigning Glenorchy to a fourth consecutive grand final defeat. Peter Hudson officially retired after the grand final although he was to make a brief three-game comeback two seasons later. All told, Hudson played a total of 289 senior games for New Norfolk, Hawthorn and Glenorchy between 1963 and 1981, netting 1,721 goals at an average of 5.95 goals per game. He also kicked a further 317 goals in other games such as interstate matches for Tasmania and Victoria, intrastate football for the TFL, night games, state and Australian championship matches, and so forth, for an Australian record career total of 2,038 senior goals.
Colin Tully replaced Jack Rough as senior coach in 1980, but once again the team was bested on grand final day, this time by Hobart. In addition, the Magpies took part in a prototype statewide competition involving TFL, NTFA and NWFU clubs and got as far as the semi-finals before losing to Hobart.
Peter Hudson was back as coach a year later, ostensibly in a non-playing capacity, but as mentioned above he did make a brief comeback at full forward late in the season when the team was struggling and managed 30 goals in three games. The side finished third.
The 1982 season saw Peter Hudson give way to Gary Davidson as coach and also saw the Magpies filling their now familiar role as bridesmaids in going down by 11 points to New Norfolk in the grand final. A year later, however, they swept all before them in one of the most outstanding seasons in the club’s history. In round 20 they kicked a club record 34.21 (225) against Hobart, and several weeks later in the grand final they gave an equally dominant performance to overturn New Norfolk by 92 points, 28.19 (187) to 14.11 (95), with Peters, Webster, Excell, Pearce (5 goals) and Stephens starring.
Glenorchy claimed the minor premiership in 1984 but then lost the grand final by 26 points against Clarence. In 1985 the club broke with recent tradition by appointing a local, Danny Ling, as senior coach, and he met with immediate success as Glenorchy defeated Clarence by four points in a fiery grand final played in front of a crowd of 16,561. There were noteworthy performances from Pearce (7 goals), Curley, Coleman, Excell and Collis.
In 1986 the league expanded to include two Launceston-based teams and Glenorchy made history by securing premierships at every level. The reserves downed North Hobart by 51 points; Clarence succumbed in the thirds by the same margin; and in the fourths it was Hobart who went down by 25 points. At senior level the Magpies proved too good for Sandy Bay to the tune of 32 points, 14.20 (104) to 9.18 (72), with prominent showings from Klug, Coleman, Hay, Tovey and Gilham.
The TFL expanded still further in 1987 with the admission of two NWFU clubs in the Burnie Hawks (formerly Cooee) and the Devonport Blues. Glenorchy remained a force to be reckoned with but lost a high scoring grand final against North Hobart by 52 points. It was a similar story twelve months later under new coach Robert Groenewegen, with the Devonport Blues defeating the Magpies by 41 points, 15.7 (97) to 8.6 (48).
Danny Ling returned to the coach’s hot seat in 1990 but, with the club announcing a massive financial deficit of over $200,000, he was clearly going to be up against it from the outset. Glenorchy plummeted to ninth out of ten in 1990, heralding a decline in fortunes that was to continue for most of the decade. However, by 1999 the Magpies, under Paul Hamilton, were once again in a position of pre-eminence, and a 15.9 (99) to 7.11 (53) grand final victory over the Northern Bombers seemingly heralded a great future.
Sadly this was not to be. In January 2001 the Tasmanian State Football League collapsed, leaving Glenorchy, Clarence, Hobart and North Hobart with nowhere to go. All were ultimately accepted into the recently formed Southern Football League, although in Glenorchy’s case– as in that of New Norfolk before them–the price was distressingly high: the league ruled that, as a condition of affiliation, Glenorchy must change both its emblem and its colours. This was because both the Magpie emblem and the black and white playing uniform were already in use by Claremont Football Club (not to be confused with the Perth-based club of the same name). The Glenorchy Magpies thus became the Glenorchy Storm, supplemented the black and white in their uniform with green, and girded their loins to confront an unknown, but in all probability infinitely less auspicious, future, although a grand final appearance in their debut season in the new competition may have afforded a glimmer of solace.
In November 2003 there was considerable rejoicing amongst diehard Glenorchy supporters when it was announced that from 2004 the club would be reverting to its traditional nickname and colours. The change was made possible by virtue of the fact that the SFL now operated a two-division system, with Glenorchy in the premier division and Claremont in the regional division. As a result of this split the two clubs no longer had to play one another, and so the ‘colour clash’ that had forced Glenorchy to break with tradition no longer applied.
Glenorchy’s first grand final appearance in the SFL had come in the club’s debut season of 2001 and had resulted in a 44-point loss to Clarence. It was a similar story five years later when the same two sides confronted one another on grand final day. The Magpies stayed in touch until the long break but during the second half the Roos added ten goals to six to win with disconcerting ease. In the grand final of 2007, however, it was a vastly different story as, in front of 7,091 supporters, the Magpies comprehensively defeated their 2006 nemesis to the tune of 68 points, 14.22 (106) to 4.14 (38). Piuselli, Crouch, Curran, McIver, Newett and Kamaric were Glenorchy’s best. It was a highly satisfying season all-round for Glenorchy as both the reserves and colts sides also reached their respective grand finals, with the reserves emulating the seniors by going top.
Twelve months later the Magpies enjoyed back-to-back premiership success for the first time in over two decades when they accounted for North Hobart in the grand final by nine goals. A fortnight earlier the Demons had won a tight, low scoring second semi-final between the two sides by 14 points but there was no denying Glenorchy when it mattered most. Echoing 2007, the seniors’ accomplishment was matched by the reserves who overcame Clarence in the grand final by 17 points, 10.18 (78) to 9.7 (61).