20. Fred Pringle

Player Inductee

Cananore/Carlton, Ruck/Key position, 1915-28

22 games, 7 goals for Carlton, 1923-24
Around 100 games for Cananore, 1915, 1920-22, 1925-28
Cananore coach, 1925-28
Cananore TFL premierships, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927
Cananore state premierships, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927
Tasmanian National Carnival representative, 1927 (Melbourne)
Six representative matches for Tasmania, 1921-27
Two representative matches for Victoria, 1924

Frederick Pringle was born in 1899 in Assam in eastern India, where his father was a tea merchant. At the age of five Pringle along with his mother and siblings relocated to Hobart, where the young Fred soon developed into a promising junior footballer. At the age of 15 he made his senior debut for Cananore, however a year later the TFL competition was suspended due to the First World War. Pringle was determined to make a contribution to the war effort, and so enlisted in the 10th Field Artillery Brigade of the First Australian Infantry Force (AIF). He served on the Western Front in 1918, where his head was grazed by a bullet, and he was in England recuperating when the armistice was signed to end the conflict. By the time Pringle had returned home to Tasmania in June 1919, that year’s TFL season had already been cancelled due to the Spanish Influenza outbreak, and so it would not be until 1920 that Pringle would play senior football again.

Upon resumption, Pringle rejoined Cananore and quickly became one of the star players in the exceptional Canaries sides of the day, playing in back-to-back TFL and state premierships in 1921-22. His remarkable versatility and ability to play virtually any position was the greatest feather in his cap, and he gained his first of six interstate guernseys with Tasmania in 1921. At the end of 1922 Pringle received an employment opportunity with the Federal Customs Department in Melbourne, and as a result relocated to Victoria. Stories of Pringle’s footballing prowess for one of the island state’s powerhouse clubs did not go unnoticed by VFL recruiters, and it was Carlton who ultimately landed Pringle’s services.

Pringle made his VFL debut for the Blues in Round 4, 1923. He would play only seven games for the season and made limited impact in a side that won just six games for the year. Former Fitzroy champion Percy Parratt’s appointment as Carlton coach the following season saw a switch to defence for Pringle and an enormous change in fortunes; his form was so good that he was selected to represent Victoria twice during the year. Unfortunately Carlton again collapsed during the season to miss the finals, and the off-field dramas that had plagued the club the previous season returned. As a result, Pringle decided enough was enough for him in Victoria and he returned to Tasmania after just two seasons and 22 games with the Blues.

Upon his return, 24-year-old Pringle was appointed captain-coach of Cananore in 1925. Here he presided over possibly the best single season team in the history of Tasmanian football. The club won the first of a hat trick of TFL and state premierships, dispatched North Hobart and North Launceston with ease in each premiership decider and – in one of the most famous wins in Tasmanian history – destroyed a visiting Port Adelaide team by 178 points on the eve of the TFL finals.

In 1927 Pringle again represented his ‘home’ state in interstate football at the National Carnival in Melbourne. The Tasmanians failed to win a match but came close in narrow losses to New South Wales and Western Australia. Despite being aged just 28 and still undoubtedly in his prime as a footballer, Pringle retired at the end of the 1928 season after more than 150 senior games. After retirement Pringle worked for many years as a public servant, including as Secretary in the Tasmanian Attorney General’s Department. He passed away in 1982, six weeks short of his 83rd birthday.