152. Neil Rawson

Administrator Inductee

Ulverstone/NWFU/NTFL, 1967-2006

Ulverstone FC Secretary, 1967-78 152. Neil Rawson

NWFU Secretary, 1979-81
NTFL President, 1987-94
NTFL Co-Patron, 1995-2005
Ulverstone FC Life Member, 1970
NTFL Life Member, 1996
NTFL Hall of Fame inductee, 2002
Australian National Football Council Merit Award
Order of Australia Medal, 2005 (‘Services to the Community through Sport’)

 

One of the most respected individuals on the entire north-west coast, Neil Rawson was a stalwart of the Ulverstone Football Club and of the football community overall in north-west Tasmania, serving a number of club and league administrative roles over a distinguished 50-year period.

Born in 1932, Neil Rawson’s first involvement with football – as it does for many young men – came as a player. A speedy, left-footed half forward flanker, Rawson played 12 senior games for Ulverstone during the club’s golden era of the early-1950s, and was also a member of a reserves premiership team in 1951 before a knee injury ended his career. His administrative career began in 1967 as a 35-year old when he was appointed as Ulverstone FC Secretary. In 12 years in that role, Rawson witnessed many pivotal moments in football on the north-west coast, the highlight of which came in 1976 when Ulverstone defeated Sandy Bay and then Launceston to claim their second Tasmanian State premiership. His tenure received widespread praise, and in 1979 he took on the same job with the NWFU, serving three years in the role. In 1987, the formation of the TFL Statewide League saw the NWFU and Launceston-based NTFA amalgamate into one combined entity, known as the Northern Tasmanian Football League. Rawson was elected as the League’s inaugural president, and in this capacity he oversaw the early days of what would become a healthy and successful competition. After eight years in the role, Rawson resigned at the end of 1995, and became instead – along with fellow coastal legend G. B. ‘Paddy’ Martin – one of the league’s two co-patrons.

Away from football, Rawson was a well-known and highly-respected figure within the Ulverstone community, serving at different times as secretary of the Ulverstone Tennis Club, Ulverstone Lions Club and Ulverstone Show Society over a 40+ year period. He had many passions in life, particularly golf and supporting Hawthorn in the AFL, however through it all Rawson’s first love was always his beloved Robins. He was as much a part of the football club as the black and red of their jumpers, and was ready and willing to take on any task that required his services, always on a voluntary basis. His voice was synonymous with match day at the Ulverstone Football Ground, serving as the ground announcer for some time, while he also collated home game match reports and kept training attendance records for more than a decade. Rawson’s tireless work saw him bestowed with numerous awards and commendations throughout his life. These included a Merit Award from the Australian National Football Council, life membership with Ulverstone and the NTFL, an Order of Australia Medal for services to the community and a place as one of nine inaugural inductees into the NTFL Hall of Fame. Arguably the greatest honour of his life however came in April 2009, when the northern grandstand at the Ulverstone Football Ground was renamed the ‘Neil Rawson Stand’ in his honour.

After more than 50 years association with the Ulverstone Football Club and coastal football overall, Neil Rawson passed away in August 2014 at the age of 81; he was a passionate supporter right until the end, watching Ulverstone defeat Penguin by one point only days before his death. He was remembered as an “absolute gentleman”, and an “enormous contributor to the community”, and left a legacy as one of Tasmanian football’s most universally respected figures.

Neil Rawson has been a long-time contributor to football administration in north-west Tasmania. Highlights of his time in office were the 1976 season when Ulverstone dominated north-west and state football, taking home the state premiership.

In 1987 Rawson became the inaugural president of the Northern Tasmanian Football League, which has continued to this day, providing opportunities for senior and youth players in northern and north-western Tasmania. The NTFL has been recognised as the premier competition in Tasmanian football since the end of the statewide league in 2000.