288. Harold Ayers

288. Harold AyersOverall Contribution Inductee

Cananore/Longford/Sandy Bay/Huonville/Media, Defender, 1931-1990

Around 100 games for Cananore, 1931-37
Around 30 games for Longford, 1938-39
35 games for Sandy Bay, 1945-46
Around 60 games for Huonville, 1947-50
Cananore TANFL premierships, 1931, 1933
Cananore State premiership, 1931
Sandy Bay TANFL premiership, 1946
Sandy Bay State premiership, 1946
Longford Captain-Coach, 1938-39
Huonville Captain-Coach, 1947-50
William Leitch Medal Runner-Up, 1945
Multiple TANFL Representative
14 years as commentator with ABC radio, TVT-6 television
Order of Australia Award for ‘Services to the Community and to Sport’, 1975

Few individuals in Tasmanian football have made such sizeable contributions to the game than Harold ‘Nunky’ Ayers.

Starting his playing career with the old Cananore Football Club in 1931 at the age of 20, Ayers established himself as a skilful half back flanker in a successful era for the club, playing in one state and two TANFL premierships between 1931 and 1933. After a disagreement with the Cananore match committee, he departed and spent two seasons at Longford as captain-coach while continuing to live in Hobart; he would later jokingly describe himself as the first “drive-in” signing.

After five years of navy service and a posting in Darwin during WWII, Ayers returned to Tasmania and played a crucial role in defence for the powerful Sandy Bay sides of 1945-46, playing in another league and state premiership.

Ayers moved into coaching with Huonville in the Huon FA from 1946-50. It was here that his name first became etched into Tasmanian football folklore, after he – allegedly – slightly unhinged the screws on the door to the change room before delivering an impassioned address to his players, turning around and smashing straight through the now weakened door. Further success as a coach was to follow with Friends School during the 1950’s.

His highly successful career in the media began in the mid-1960’s with appearances on television shows “Who Won Why?’ and ‘World of Sport’, but it was during his 14-year stint as a commentator alongside Rae and Trevor Leo for TVT-6 television and ABC radio that ‘Nunky’ was most prominent. He famously made great players of the day household names by constant use of nicknames such as Peter ‘Trunky’ Marquis, John ‘Dead-Legs’ Devine and Graeme ‘Dreams’ Wilkinson, while referring to basically everybody else as ‘a star’. His contributions to the media were honoured when he was accorded an Order of Australia for his services to sport and the community in 1975. Other contributions to the game included working under Brian Eade at the TFL as a development officer in schools, as well being an active member on the speakers’ circuit.

Always a popular figure, Ayers was well-known for his keen sense of humour and charismatic nature, most evident when – despite being a non-drinker – he had the uncanny knack of appearing to be the life of any party. He was also an active member of the sporting scene around Hobart, particularly involved with swimming, holding as many as 24 state swimming titles.