The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Great Club for 2013 is the Latrobe Football Club.
Its population may only be in the region of 3,000, but on a per capita basis Latrobe’s contribution to the sport of Australian football is second to none.
The club’s fifteen senior premierships plus one state flag is creditable enough, but when one peruses a list of the illustrious names to have taken the field wearing the Diehards’/ Demons’ navy and red jumper over the years, one’s admiration increases still further.
Along with regular Tasmanian interstate representatives such as Joe Murphy, Len Lawson and Vin Waite, and dual Wander medalists Bob Hickman and John Jillard, Latrobe has produced four champions who warrant legendary status regardless of either the era or the company. Of these, Ivor Warne-Smith and Darrel Baldock have both acquired Australia-wide reputations, while Harry Coventry and Ellis Maney, despite being less well known, can also lay claim to being among Latrobe’s favourite sons.
Formed on 19 June 1881, the Latrobe Football Club had already firmly established itself on the north-west coastal football scene when Harry Coventry began his career. By the time that career was over, the Diehards were arguably the strongest team in the region and Coventry had been a member of their first five premiership teams.
Having spent most of its formative phase in the North West Football League (NWFL), in 1910 Latrobe became a founding member of the North West Football Union (NWFU), along with Mersey, Wesley Vale, Ulverstone and Penguin. It was to remain a member of the NWFU until the competition was disbanded at the end of the 1986 season. Latrobe contested its first NWFU grand final in 1911, losing heavily to Mersey, before breaking through for its first flag two years later.
Coastal football went into recess because of World War One in 1916 and did not resume until after the devastating influenza outbreak of 1919. When it did resume, Latrobe was a forceful presence, contesting all five grand finals between 1920 and 1924 for three premierships, and winning another flag in 1926. It was during this era that eventual dual Brownlow medalist, Ivor Warne-Smith, led the club as captain and coach under the mentorship of Harry Coventry.
Incredibly, Warne-Smith recruited one Ellis Maney from Ulverstone to play in the Diehards’ successful 1924 NWFU title attempt. Maney subsequently led the club to its next prominent era during the early 1930s, winning pennants in 1930, 1931 and 1933, and finishing second in 1932. A further losing grand final followed in 1939. The period following the 1945 resumption of football after the Second World War proved an unusually dismal time for Latrobe. Not even the arrival in 1959 of a new captain-coach from East Devonport by the name of Darrel John Baldock could spark an improvement in fortune.
It would not be until the newly appointed President, Ellis Maney, instigated Baldock’s return from a seven-season stint with St Kilda in 1969 that the Diehards would, at long last, return to pre-eminence. That the club already possessed a nucleus of highly accomplished players was not in doubt—Latrobe players would, incredibly, win every Wander Medal on offer between 1964 and 1971— but such talent was worthless unless it could be harnessed.
With 119 VFL games under his belt, many of them as the Saints’ captain, Darrel Baldock was perfectly equipped and qualified to mould talented individuals like John Jillard, Bob Hickman, Denis ‘Mary’ Smith, Ken Luxmoore and Rod Butler into a consistently winning combination. Between 1969 and 1972 Latrobe established an all-time league record by winning four premierships in succession. During this golden era the Demons also seized the 1970 state premiership with a victory over Clarence and were runners-up in 1971 and 1972. When the structure of Tasmanian football underwent a drastic overhaul at the end of the 1986 season, Latrobe found itself in the newly formed Northern Tasmanian Football League (NTFL). After a somewhat inglorious start—the club recorded a success rate of just 29.3% in its first six seasons—it has established itself as a key member of the competition.
Having lost the 1994 and 2000 NTFL grand finals to Ulverstone, Latrobe broke a 38-year premiership drought by defeating Ulverstone by 30 points in the 2010 grand final. The club achieved back-to-back success with a hard-fought victory over Penguin in the 2011 NTFL premiership decider, while the 2012 grand final saw Latrobe lose narrowly to Wynyard.
The Latrobe Football Club deservedly takes its place amongst the ‘Great Clubs’ of Tasmanian football.
Home ground – Darrel Baldock Oval (Latrobe Recreation Ground)
Established – 19 June 1881
Playing colours – Navy blue and red
Emblem – Demons (formerly Diehards)
Club theme song – “It’s a Grand Old Flag” (Tune: “You’re a Grand Old Flag”)
Affiliations – NWFL (1882–1909) NWFU (1910–1986), NTFL (1987–present)
1891, 1892, 1907
1913, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972.
Tasmanian State Premierships
Individual Medal Winners
Wander Medal winners (Best and Fairest in the
1948 – Dave Jeffrey
1952 – Peter Gillam
1956 – Joe Murphy
1959 – Darrel Baldock
1964 – Wally Clark
1965 – Len Lawson
1966 – Bob Hickman
1967 – Bob Hickman
1968 – Brian Waters
1969 – Darrel Baldock
1970 – John Jillard
1971 – John Jillard
Darrel Baldock Medal winners (Best and Fairest
in the NTFL)
2009 – Gavin Woodcock
1971 – Darrel Baldock
Competition leading goalkickers
NWFU leading goalkickers
1920 – H. Hicks (Not available)
1921 – H. Hicks (Not available)
1922 – H. Hicks (39 goals)
1937 – N. Horne (71)
1938 – N. Horne (61)
1939 – N. Horne (84)
1954 – A. Cole (97)
1970 – R. Gilham (83)
1986 – Tom Honner (85)
NTFL leading goalkickers
1989 – Mark Williams (132)
1994 – Terry Keays (117)
2000 – S. French (42)
Club record score
38.22 (250) v Penguin 9.6 (60) in 2004
Club record games holder
Rod Butler (324)
Club / Ground record match att endance
11,329 – Latrobe v Sandy Bay at North Hobart Oval on 2 October 1971 for the Tasmanian State Premiership Final.
6,493 – Smithton v Scottsdale at Latrobe Recreation Ground in 1989 for the Northern Tasmanian Football League (NTFL) Grand Final.
Latrobe Recreation Ground / Darrel Baldock Oval
The Latrobe Recreation Ground was established in the early years of the Latrobe Football Club and was renamed in honour of Tasmanian and Latrobe football Icon, Darrel Baldock, in 2012.
The ground was a regular finals venue for the North West Football Union and then became the primary Grand Final venue for the Northern Tasmanian Football League from 1993.
Latrobe Recreation Ground is home to the Latrobe Bicycle Race Club, Latrobe Cricket Club, Latrobe Football Club and Latrobe Federal Band (Bandrooms). The ground has a cycling track surrounding the whole oval with three grandstands on the main wing.
It is the home of the NTFL Grand Final and Preliminary Final each year and also part of the Tasmanian Christmas Carnival series hosting the annual Boxing Day Carnival, which includes cycling, athletics and woodchopping events.
The recent football history of the Ground has seen the venue host the 1989 NTFL
grand final with a record crowd of 6493. As well, since 1993 the ground has hosted 20 consecutive NTFL Grand Finals to make it the pre-eminent Coastal football venue come September finals time.