Established: 1886 (as Leven Football Club)
Home Ground: Ulverstone Recreation Ground
Playing Colours: red and black
Club Theme Song: ‘We Are the Red and Blacks’ (tune of ‘Lily of Laguna’)
Affiliations: NWFA (1894-1909), NWFU (1910-1986), NTFL/NWFL (1987-present)
NWFA Premierships: 3 (1900, 1903, 1906)
NWFU Premierships: 12 (1910, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1976, 1986)
NTFL/NWFL Premierships: 9 (1987, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009)
Tasmanian State Premierships: 2 (1955, 1976)
INDIVIDUAL MEDAL WINNERS
Cheel/Wright/Wander Medallists (NWFU Best and Fairest): Stan Trebilco (1923), Tas Langmaid (1929), Jim Brown (1930), Jack Rough (1951), Arthur Hodgson (1955), Jock O’Brien (1962), John Murphy (1981)
Ovaltine/Pivot/Darrel Baldock Medallists (NTFL Best and Fairest): Reg Horton (1993), Nathan Howard (1996, 1997), Simon Walmsley (2000), Scott Blair (2001), Justin Hays (2010)
COMPETITION LEADING GOALKICKERS
1912 – J. Palliser (24)
1925 – H. McDonald (47)
1935 – M. Johnson (60)
1946 – R. Stott (80)
1951 – S. Walker (73)
1964 – W. Pearce (65)
1969 – K. Mahoney (79)
1997 – Jamie Auton (95)
Record Score: Ulverstone 44.28 (292) def. Penguin 3.3 (21), 1991
Most Games: Wayne Wing (369)
Record Crowd: 11,866 at the 1968 NWFU Grand Final: Ulverstone v East Devonport at West Park, Burnie
The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame ‘Great Club’ for 2015 is the Ulverstone Football Club.
The Ulverstone Robins have been a footballing powerhouse on the north-west coast of Tasmania for more than a century. Founded as the Leven Football Club in 1886 and known as such until 1890, Ulverstone’s early history is a partly documented patchwork of affiliations with various country football associations, most notably the original incarnation of the North-West Football Association (NWFA). It was here that the Robins would taste their earliest premiership successes, with three NWFA flags in 1900, 1903 and 1906.
At the conclusion of the 1909 season Ulverstone, along with fellow NWFA clubs Mersey and Wesley Vale as well as Penguin and Latrobe, formed the North-West Football Union (NWFU) competition. The Robins immediately made their mark on the league, winning the 1910 premiership over bitter rivals Mersey and appearing in another two grand finals before the competition was suspended due to the First World War and the outbreak of Spanish Influenza.
Upon resumption, success for Ulverstone was hard to come by, with only two flags and sporadic grand final appearances between 1920 and 1946, despite the club boasting some great players, such as future Carlton player and inaugural Cheel Medallist Stan Trebilco. However, a premiership in 1947 signalled a drastic change in fortune and heralded the beginning of a golden era for the club. Seven grand final appearances in eight seasons from 1950-57 – six of which resulted in premierships – consolidated Ulverstone’s reputation as one of the best teams not just on the coast but in the entire state, a claim strengthened by their inaugural state premiership triumph over Longford in 1955. This period of domination was largely owed to the immense talent representing the club at the time, with revered names such as ‘Paddy’ Martin, Arthur Hodgson, Jack Rough and Graham ‘Chum’ Saltmarsh regular stand-out contributors in big matches. Hodgson in particular was a prominent member of the Robins both on and off the field, with many of the exploits that would later see him named an Icon in the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame occurring during this period.
After the delirious success of the early-to-late 1950s Ulverstone fell on hard times in the 1960s, suffering through a 19-year premiership drought, despite five grand final appearances during the period. The monkey was finally thrown off the back in spectacular style in 1976 under former Geelong rover Ricky Graham, with the Robins comprehensively dispatching Penguin in the NWFU grand final and backing up that victory with a second state premiership later in the year. While the twin flags were undoubtedly sensational achievements, Ulverstone’s greatest triumph of the 1976 season arguably took place the week before the state decider. Sandy Bay had demolished Glenorchy by 97 points in the TAFNL grand final, leading Glenorchy coach Peter Hudson to label Sandy Bay “the best side Tasmania has ever seen” and predict that they would smash Ulverstone in the state preliminary final the following week. In a game that would later be described by club patron Neil Rawson as “the best win in the club’s history”, Ulverstone annihilated an inaccurate Sandy Bay by 69 points in front of 3,000 people at Devonport Oval, well and truly announcing themselves as the best team in the state, a fact they confirmed a week later with a 47-point win over Launceston at York Park.
It would be a further ten years before the Robins would lift another piece of silverware, but when they did so it was in spectacular style. The 1986 season was the Ulverstone Football Club’s centenary year and on grand final day they achieved a rare premiership treble, triumphing in the seniors, reserves and Under 18’s. 1986 was also the final year of the NWFU, and in its 78-year history in the league Ulverstone had certainly left its mark, securing 12 senior premierships at an average of one every six-and-a-half years. The inevitable drift towards a state-wide competition led to a major football re-shuffle across the state, and in 1987 Ulverstone and many of its NWFU contemporaries joined the new Northern Tasmanian Football League (NTFL) competition.
The move to the NTFL ushered in the most successful era in the history of the Ulverstone Football Club. After taking out the inaugural NTFL premiership in 1987 the club romped to six premierships in eight years, including a phenomenal five in a row from 1993-97, in the process stamping themselves as the most dominant side in the NTFL by some measure. Following another flag in 2000, the arrival of former Statewide League clubs North Launceston, Burnie and Devonport significantly eased Ulverstone’s stranglehold on the competition. Nevertheless, the Robins have steadfastly refused to fall away, adding yet another senior premiership to their bulging trophy cabinet in 2009 and, as of 2015, missing the NTFL finals only once since 2007. Throughout this period the club has produced a number of players who have gone on to play the game at the highest level, including Dion Scott (Sydney/Brisbane), Ryan O’Connor (Essendon/Sydney) and more recently Fremantle defender Alex Pearce.
With 24 senior premierships, two state pennants and a multitude of iconic representatives over its long and illustrious 129-year history, the Ulverstone Football Club deservedly takes its place amongst the ‘Great Clubs’ of Tasmanian Football.