Leven F. A./Ulverstone/East Devonport, Half Back, 1940-1963
> • 20 games for Motton Rovers (Leven FA), 1940; 1944
> • 289 games for Ulverstone, 1945-54; 1956-61
> • 15 games for East Devonport, 1955
> • 45 games for Kindred (Leven FA), 1961-63
> • Ulverstone NWFU premierships, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1956, 1957
> • Kindred Leven FA premiership, 1961
> • Ulverstone Best & Fairest 1950, 1951, 1953, 1956
> • 49 representative matches for NWFU
> • One representative match for Tasmania (vs Australian Amateurs, 1954)
A stalwart of coastal football, Graham ‘Chum’ Saltmarsh carved out a fine playing career before embarking one of the most prolific volunteer and administration careers of anyone in Tasmanian football.
Saltmarsh was born in 1927 in the North Motton region of north-west Tasmania, into a family he described as “eating and talking football at breakfast, dinner and tea.” His first playing soiree came as a 13-year old in 1940 when he lined up with Motton Rovers in the Leven Football Association, however he only played a single season before the competition was suspended due to WWII. Upon its resumption in 1944 Saltmarsh again stripped for the Rovers, and came close to representing the Leven Association in a match against the Darwin Association. The following year, Saltmarsh joined NWFU club Ulverstone, and despite being just 17 years of age was one of the primary instigators of the re-formation of the club after the war-enforced recess, something which at one stage looked very unlikely due to a drastic lack of numbers both on and off the field. Thankfully, his efforts and those of others were successful, and Saltmarsh commenced playing with the Robins at the start of the season.
Over the following 17 seasons Saltmarsh was a permanent fixture for Ulverstone, playing in six premierships with the dominant Robins teams of the day; it could have been seven, however he missed the club’s historic 1955 NWFU and State triumphs after spending the season with East Devonport. A dashing half back flanker, Saltmarsh was a superb left foot kick, and was greatly admired for his long dashes out of defence. His prowess was rewarded with four Ulverstone Best & Fairest trophies – all coming in premiership years – while he finished runner-up on another two occasions. One of the first picked for NWFU combined teams, he represented the Union an astonishing 49 times during his career, and in 1954 was chosen in the Tasmanian side that (under the great Roy Cazaly) defeated the Australian Amateurs in Hobart. Remarkably durable, Saltmarsh missed only three games due to injury during his career, while he also earned a reputation as one of the fairest players around, never once going into the umpire’s book. Arguably his greatest claim to fame, however, was that he was one of very few players to get the better of the great Len Hayes, the Wynyard and Cooee champion who dominated the NWFU competition of that era. After 304 NWFU games Saltmarsh spent his final playing days as coach of Kindred back in the Leven Association, guiding the club to its sole premiership in 1961 before retiring two years later.
Saltmarsh remained heavily involved in the game post-retirement, embarking on an extensive volunteer career. He was the driving force behind the commencement of State Primary School football in Ulverstone and the NWFU U17s association in the late-60s, spending 25 years on the committee of the latter. He also remained closely involved with the Leven Association (spending nearly 20 years as a member of the Association tribunal), was a key figure in the formation of the West Ulverstone and Turners Beach Football Clubs and of the formation/administration of the Ulverstone Past Players & Officials Association. His contribution to coastal football was recognised numerous times, with Ulverstone and NWFU Life Membership and an ANFC Merit Award in 1989. His prowess as a player was also not forgotten, listed by historian Ken Pinchin as one of Tasmania’s 40 Greatest Players in 1979 and shortlisted for the Tasmanian Team of the Century in 2004.
Graham Saltmarsh passed away in 2008 at the age of 80.