138. Bob Parsons

New Town/Penguin/Glenorchy/Clarence, Rover/Forward, 1945-1955 and 1965-1968

95 games for New Town, 1945-50
66 games for Penguin, 1951-55
6 games for Clarence, 1956
Penguin captain/coach, 1951-55 (71 Games: 23 Wins, 47 Losses, 1 Draw)
New Town TANFL premierships 1948, 1949
New Town State premiership 1948
New Town Leading Goal Kicker 1950
Penguin Leading Goal Kicker 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955
8 games, 20 goals for Tasmania, 1950-53
Tasmanian National Carnival representative 1950 (Brisbane), 1953 (Adelaide)
National Carnival Leading Goalkicker, 1950 (14 goals)
22 games for TANFL, 1945-50
10 games for NWFU, 1951-55
Glenorchy coach, 1964-68 (105 Games: 59 Wins, 44 Losses, 2 Draws)
Glenorchy TANFL + State premiership coach 1965
Penguin Team of the Century (Rover) – Vice Captain

 

Nicknamed ‘The Mighty Atom’, Bob Parsons was one of the most accomplished small men in Tasmanian football in the decade following World War II. A highly-respected leader both on and off the field, he guided Glenorchy to premiership success after his retirement as a player.

Born in 1922, Bob Parsons’ leadership ability was recognised early, chosen to captain the 1936 Tasmanian Schoolboys team. By age 19, he was on the verge of playing senior TANFL football, however the competition was suspended due to WWII before he could debut, meaning that it took until 1945 for Parsons to make his first senior appearance, for New Town. Despite standing just 5’3 (161cm), Parsons quickly impressed with his pace, clean ball skills and elusiveness. Throughout the mid-to-late 1940s, Parsons formed a potent following division for the Magpies alongside Bill Fox and champion ruckman Jack Rough, the trio helping New Town claim back-to-back TANFL premierships in 1948 and 1949, as well as the State flag in the former year. Already by this stage a regular member of TANFL intrastate teams, in 1950 Parsons was selected in the Tasmanian squad for that year’s Brisbane Carnival. Parsons’ performance in the carnival was spectacular, and at tournament’s end he topped the goal kicking table with 14 from four games, two clear of Victorian champion Bill Hutchison; had an All-Australian team been chosen from the Carnival, Parsons’ inclusion would likely have been a mere formality.

Now 28, Parsons was at the peak of his powers, and so many were surprised when he relocated to the north-west coast in 1951 to coach Penguin, a club who had won only four matches in six years. Thanks to a combination of shrewd recruiting and Parsons’ own charismatic leadership, he was soon able to mould the club into a competitive unit, culminating in a reserves premiership in 1953 and the senior team’s first NWFU finals appearance for 20 years two years later. He also donated his coaching talents to developing the next generation outside of senior football, helping the Burnie High School senior team – including a 16-year old Trevor Leo – finish runners-up in the 1952 Tasmanian State Schools championships. On-field Parsons was still one of the top players in the Union, finishing runner-up in the competition’s goal kicking for three consecutive years, and was a regular member – and captain – of NWFU representative teams. He also featured in his second national carnival at Adelaide in 1953, earning his nickname of ‘The Mighty Atom’ through his dynamic performances in what was a poor tournament for Tasmania.

After five seasons with Penguin, Parsons returned to Hobart in 1956 as captain-coach of Clarence, however he resigned and retired after only six games. After spending a few years away from senior football, Parsons was lured back in 1964 to coach his original club, now Glenorchy. The club had endured a poor 1963, and it was hoped that the appointment of an experienced and proven coach in Parsons could revitalise the club’s fortunes. The move proved a masterstroke, with Parsons steering the Magpies to five consecutive finals appearances and three straight Grand Finals from 1965-67, the first producing the TFL/State premiership double. After bowing out of the 1968 finals race in the First Semi Final, Parsons departed as coach after 105 games.

In later life Parsons ran a sports centre in Hobart’s northern suburbs, which he had opened during his last year coaching Glenorchy. His contribution to the game has been recognised with induction into Glenorchy’s Hall of Fame and the Penguin Team of the Century.