The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Great Club for 2014 is the New Norfolk District Football Club.
New Norfolk is located on the Derwent River in Tasmania’s South East and has a population of more than 5,000. Being around 32 kilometres from the city of Hobart it is considered to be a country town and has a rich pioneer heritage dating back 200 years.
The game of football was played on a social basis in New Norfolk as early as the late 1860s and the district is one of the earliest in Tasmania to play the game. The New Norfolk Football Club’s origins date from that time but officially appear from 1878, making it amongst a handful of clubs that emerged in the 1870s that can claim to be amongst the oldest in Tasmania.
After spending the first 69 years of their football history in country competitions, New Norfolk graduated to the big time of Tasmanian football in 1947, along with rivals Clarence, as the Tasmanian Football League (TFL) expanded and moved to ‘district’ football after the Second World War ended.
In the immediate post-war period the productive farming centre that was New Norfolk was expanding as the newsprint mills (Norske Skog) at Boyer continued to grow the population of the district and support the local community. With the establishment of their new home ground at Boyer Oval and the opportunity to join the TFL, the club began its most illustrious era.
Upon joining the TFL the club took some time to establish itself as a competitive force and it wasn’t until the late 1950s that it made a grand final. Further heartache followed throughout the early and mid-1960s and this was only partially off-set by the emergence of the regions greatest footballer, Peter Hudson, who catapulted the Derwent Valley to football prominence in the four years preceding 1966 as every club in Australia chased the imperious goal-kicking skills of ‘Huddo’.
The emergence of Peter Hudson coincided with the appointment of prominent Tasmanian rover, Trevor Leo, to the captain-coach role and the Eagles’ most successful era. When Peter Hudson joined Hawthorn for the 1967 season it appeared that the opportunity for the ultimate victory may have slipped from the Eagles’ grasp. However, in 1968 the long-awaited title of ‘best club in Tasmania’ was finally theirs when the team swept all before them in defeating North Hobart and then Scottsdale to take the TFL and state premiership titles.
The Eagles once again challenged for TFL regional honours in the early 1980s under strict disciplinarian, Robbie Dykes, and took the 1983 title over Glenorchy. In the new state competition that began in the late 1980s the Eagles had a struggle to compete, but in the early 1990s the club entered the 1994 state premiership decider as favourite under the leadership of Darren Denneman, though it had to settle for runner-up to Clarence.
When the structure of Tasmanian state football underwent a drastic overhaul at the end of the 1990s, New Norfolk found itself in the newly reformed Southern Tasmanian Football League (STFL) where the club has established itself as a key member of the competition.
As far as premiership wins are concerned, New Norfolk has enjoyed its most successful era in the last decade. After breaking a 23-year drought in 2005 the club has dominated the Southern Football League since 2009, playing in every grand final and achieving two premiership doubles in 2009 and 2010 and then again in 2012 and 2013.
A total of 23 country and regional senior premierships plus one state flag is a very creditable record, only further enhanced by the list of illustrious names to have taken the field over the years wearing the Eagles’ black, red and white.
Along with regular Tasmanian interstate representatives like Geoff Hill, Ricky Graham, Hedley Thompson and the Fox and Hunnibell brothers, and multiple William Leitch Medallists Roger Browning and Roger Belcher, New Norfolk has been home to four champions who would have to be accorded legendary status regardless of either the era or the company.
Of these, Peter Hudson has acquired an Australia-wide reputation, however, the other three regional champions—Rex Garwood, Trevor Leo and Michael Eiszele—lose nothing in comparison and are also numbered amongst New Norfolk’s favourite sons.
The New Norfolk District Football Club deservedly takes its place amongst the ‘Great Clubs’ of Tasmanian football.
Club details and achievements:
> Name: New Norfolk District Football Club.
> Home ground: Boyer Oval, New Norfolk.
> Previous home grounds: Magra Showgrounds, Kensington Park, Arthur Square.
> Established: 1878.
> Playing colours: Black, white and red.
> Emblem: Eagles.
> Club song: “We are the mighty Eagle team” (Tune: “Road to Gundagai”).
> Affiliations: Various country associations including Derwent Valley, Southern Country Football Association (1878-1933), Southern Districts Football Association (1934-46), Tasmanian Football League (1947-99), Southern Football League (2000-14).
Country association premierships
> 1891, 1892, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1913, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1939, 1945.
TFL or SFL regional league premierships
> 1968, 1982, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013.
Tasmanian state premierships
Individual medal winners
TFL or SFL Best and Fairest
> Jim Brown, 1948; Rex Garwood, 1951; Cliff Busch, 1952; Bruce Roe, 1954; Rex Garwood, 1955 and 1958; Roger Browning, 1961 and 1962; Ricky Graham, 1972; Tony Browning, 1974; Robbie Dykes, 1981; Graham Hunnibell, 1985; Ricky Hanlon, 1990; Rene Peters, 1993; Matthew Jones, 2002; Brock Ackerley and Roger Belcher (tied), 2004; Brad Carver, 2007; Roger Belcher, 2009; Nathan Ross, 2011; Michael Thompson, 2012; Nathan Ross, 2013.
Darrel Baldock Medallists (best player afield ¬in the TFL grand final)
> Jason Wilton, 1994.
Lefroy Medallists (best Tasmanian player in interstate football)
> Peter Hudson, 1965; Graham Hunnibell, 1982; Michael Hunnibell, 1983; Wayne Fox, 1984 and 1985.
Weller Arnold Medallists (best TFL player in intrastate games)
> Barry Browning, 1966; Ricky Graham, 1970.
> Peter Hudson, 1966.
Competition leading goalkickers
TFL or SFL leading goalkickers
> Peter Hudson (79) 1963, (86) 1964, (110) 1965 and (103) 1966; Wayne Fox (135) 1983, (93) 1984 and (130) 1985; Paul Dac (80) 1987, (103) 1990 and (133) 1991; Matthew Smith (67) 2003; Sean Salter (69) 2005; Adrian Burdon (106) 2009; Michael Thompson (103) 2012.
Club record games holder
> Rodger Belcher, 265.
> Chris Sproule, 264.
> Hedley Thompson, 254 (300 when intrastate and interstate games included).
Club record home attendance
> 4,710 v Clarence at Boyer Oval on 25 April 1964 in the TFL.
(An unofficial crowd just short of 5,000 was reported to have attended a home match against Huonville at Boyer Oval on 16 June 2012 in the Southern Football League.)
Club record finals attendance
> 24,413 v Clarence for the 1970 TFL grand final at North Hobart Oval.
Club record score
> New Norfolk 40.25 (265) v Brighton 6.4 (40) on 26 April 2009 at Boyer Oval.
Most goals in a match by one player
> 18.6 by Brendan Fevola v Huonville on 16 June 2012 at Boyer Oval.
Club Legends and Hall of Fame members
> Legendary coaches: TFL coach: Arthur Oliver (1951-53); first TFL and state premiership coach: Trevor Leo (1968); premiership coaches: Robbie Dykes (1982), Matthew Smith (2005, 2012), Anthony McConnon (2009, 2010), Jon Murray (2013).
> Roger Belcher, Roger Browning, Tony Browning, Noel Clarke, Cameron Clayton, Robbie Dykes, Graham Fox, Wayne Fox, Rex Garwood, Ricky Graham, Robert Graham, Rick Hanlon, Geoff Hill, Peter Hudson, Graeme Hunnibell, Michael Hunnibell, Michael Eiszele, Trevor Leo, Garth Smith, Jason Taylor, Hedley Thompson, Michael Thompson, Gary Williamson.
> Les Hepper, Pixie Turner.
Hall of Fame members
> Australian: Peter Hudson, Arthur Oliver and Darrel Baldock.
> Tasmanian: Roger Browning, Noel Clarke, Robbie Dykes, Graham Fox, Wayne Fox, Rex Garwood, Rick Hanlon, Les Hepper, Geoff Hill, Peter Hudson, Graeme Hunnibell, Michael Hunnibell, Trevor Leo, Len Pye, Garth Smith, Hedley Thompson, Gary Williamson.
State premiership glory for the Eagles in 1968
New Norfolk entered the 1968 Tasmanian Football League regional grand final as a rank outsider in many pundits’ eyes. They were up against the John Devine-led North Hobart, who were hot favourites, having won the second semi final easily and given they were reigning premiers.
The Trevor Leo-led Eagles were, however, on a mission to achieve what no other Derwent Valley team had achieved: to win the TFL premiership and then the state premiership.
After winning the club’s first TFL premiership, the Eagles took the task of defeating Scottsdale to win the state premiership title in their stride. In a dour struggle, the New Norfolk team were able to rally in the last quarter and draw away from a gallant Scottsdale team to achieve the greatest moment of any country senior football team in the history of football in Southern Tasmania.
TASMANIAN STATE PREMIERSHIP – 1968 – North Hobart Oval
New Norfolk v Scottsdale Date: 5 October
New Norfolk: 1.4 3.10 5.11 9.13 (67)
Scottsdale: 1.0 3.4 6.9 7.12 (54)
New Norfolk: R. Lynch, G. Hill, A. Besier, J. Windsor, G. Smith
Scottsdale: Taylor, Mounter, Rattray, Leitch, Davidson, Millwood
New Norfolk: G. Hill 4, B. Nusteling 2, T. Leo 1, C. Goggin 1, M. Booth 1.
Scottsdale: Mounter 1, Taylor 1, R. Hall 1, Salter 1, Dent 1, French 1, Millwood 1.
Umpire: Don Blew (VFL)