318. W.H. ‘Billy’ Cundy

Overall Contribution Inductee

Railway, Rover/Follower/Administrator, 1879-97

c. 80 games for Railway, 1879-88
Railway captain, 1879-88
Railway TFL premierships 1881, 1882, 1883, 1887
Captained first South Tasmanian team vs Victorian club (Hotham), 1881
Captained first All-Tasmanian team vs Victorian club (Essendon), 1882
Captained South Tasmania in inaugural ‘North v South’ match, 1883
Captained first Tasmanian team to visit Victoria, 1887
President of Railway FC, 1889-97

Widely regarded as the ‘Father of Tasmanian Football’, William Henry Cundy was arguably the individual most responsible for Australian football becoming Tasmania’s dominant football code.

Born in 1864, Cundy learned the game as a youth in Ballarat and Melbourne before moving to Hobart in 1878. Keen to continue playing in his new state, the following year Cundy helped form the Railway Football Club, largely in an attempt to grow public awareness of ‘Victorian Rules’, a code hitherto rarely played in Tasmania.

He quickly became known as one of the most passionate and vocal advocates for the code’s official adoption in the state, which finally occurred at a landmark 1881 meeting of the Tasmanian Football Association, reputedly by a margin of just one vote. In 1882, the TFA officially aligned with the Victorian Football Association, and that same year Cundy was one of two Tasmanian delegates sent to Melbourne for an historic meeting of the VFA at which the code’s rules were standardised.

Cundy was at the forefront of the rapid growth in both popularity and standard of Tasmanian football for much of the next decade. Despite his young age, his brilliant leadership ability meant that he was elected to captain virtually all southern and state combinations, including the first All-Tasmanian team which played Essendon in Hobart in 1882 and the first Tasmanian colonial team to visit Victoria in 1887.

Domestically, Railway became the most successful club in Hobart under Cundy’s guidance, claiming four TFA premierships in seven seasons, partially down to the fact that Cundy happened to be a truly outstanding footballer in his own right; arguably Tasmania’s first true superstar, he was noted as an exceptional mark, a long and accurate drop-kick and one of the fastest and most elusive runners with the ball ever seen.

Cundy remained involved in Tasmanian football for many years after his return to Victoria in 1889, serving as Railway’s president for nearly a decade from the mainland. He subsequently spent the rest of his life in Bendigo, captaining Sandhurst to three consecutive Bendigo Football Association premierships before retiring, and later serving as Sandhurst delegate to the BFA committee and two terms as Association President. ‘Billy’ Cundy remained a passionate football man until his death in 1935, aged 71.