The Sandy Bay Seagulls team of 1971 was coached by Hawthorn hard man Rod Olsson and wrested the Tasmanian Football League (TFL) and state titles from reigning champions Clarence and Latrobe respectively. Their win in the TFL decider began a sequence of eight consecutive grand final appearances from 1971 to 1978, which created a record that still stands for consecutive grand finals by one club.
The Seagulls won a further TFL premiership under Rod Olsson in 1972 and then suffered three consecutive grand final defeats in 1973, 1974 and 1975. The era continued under Hobartian Paul Sproule who returned from a successful career in the VFL with Richmond. He led the Seagulls to the TFL premiership dais in emphatic fashion in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
The Seagulls’ Golden Era: 1971 to 1978
> The Seagulls completed a dynamic and long series of finals games to annexe the TFL title in 1971. After finishing third in the roster season the Rod Olsson-led team defeated Glenorchy by nine points in a hard fought first semi final. The final score was Sandy Bay 15.28 (118) to Glenorchy 16.13 (109). The epic preliminary final that followed took two weeks to finalise. The first game finished in a draw with the scoreboard reading Sandy Bay 15.8 (98) to New Norfolk 13.20 (98). The replay took place in front of more than 13,000 fans and the Bay prevailed by ten points to advance to the grand final against reigning premier Clarence, then coached by renowned Tasmanian and St Kilda premiership player, John Bingley.
> The grand final of 1971 began with more than 20,000 people in attendance and Sandy Bay coming in as firm underdogs, having withstood three gruelling finals just to make it to the game. The reigning TFL premiers, Clarence, were rested but came out of the blocks slow and the Bay built a handy lead up until three quarter time when they went into the last break with a seven-goal lead. The Clarence team never gave up and kicked six goals in the final stanza to threaten, but at the bell the Olsson-led juggernaut prevailed by nine points for their first title since 1962.
> Following their victory in the TFL Sandy Bay needed to clear a final hurdle to claim the title of Tasmanian state premiers of 1971. The reigning titleholder was the Darrel Baldock-led Latrobe, whose team had defeated Scottsdale to again make the premiership decider in 1971. Despite the fact that they were playing their fourth consecutive finals game, the Bay took the lead in the second quarter and were never surpassed. The state title of 1971 was the final time that Sandy Bay had the honour of being called the champion team of Tasmania.
> The win in the 1971 TFL decider began a sequence of eight consecutive grand final appearances for Sandy Bay Football Club from 1971 to 1978. This created a record that still stands for consecutive grand finals by one club.
> The Seagulls won a further TFL premiership under Rod Olsson in 1972 and then suffered three consecutive grand final defeats in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
> The era continued under Hobartian Paul Sproule who returned from a successful career in the VFL with Richmond. He led the Seagulls to the TFL premiership dais in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
TFL Grand Finals – 1971 to 1978
1971 Sandy Bay 18.13 (121) Clarence 16.16 ((112) Crowd: 20364
1972 Sandy Bay 18.9 (117) New Norfolk 10.14 (74) Crowd: 17304
1973 Hobart 11.19 (85) Sandy Bay 10.5 (65) Crowd: 14720
1974 North Hobart 21.10 (136) Sandy Bay 15.18 (108) Crowd: 16234
1975 Glenorchy 15.16 (106) Sandy Bay 10.7 (67) Crowd: 15449
1976 Sandy Bay 21.10 (136) Glenorchy 5.9 (39) Crowd: 10881
1977 Sandy Bay 19.9 (123) Glenorchy 5.14 (44) Crowd: 12960
1978 Sandy Bay 11.14 (80) Glenorchy 9.15 (69) Crowd: 18662
Other achievements of the team:
> William Leitch Medal for TFL best and fairest: Rod Olsson, 1971 and 1973.
> State players: R. Olsson, P. Sproule, L. Morton, K. Doran, G. Mackey, S. Palfreyman, G. Ricketts, D. Morrison, J. Brimacombe, D. James, N. Leary, M. Steele, C. Saunders, S. Mount, R. Collins, S. Williams, M. Seddon.
Sandy Bay’s Finals Campaign, 1971
TFL Regional Grand Final Date: 25 September
Sandy Bay: 7.4 13.9 17.11 18.13 (121)
Clarence: 4.1 7.4 10.11 16.16 (112)
Venue: North Hobart Oval
Umpire: G. Alderson
Sandy Bay: Pilkington, Palfreyman, Olsson, Avery, Morrison, Morton
Clarence: Budd, Whitehouse, Palmer, West, Edwards, Mayne
Sandy Bay: Morton (4), Steele (3), Palfreyman (2), Adams (2), Elliott (2), Mackey, Pilkington, Lynch, Morrison, Brimacombe
Clarence: Mayne (7), West (2), Richmond (2), Whitehouse, King, Teague, Budd, Cheek
State Grand Final Date: 2 October
Sandy Bay: 0.5 4.10 6.13 12.14 (86)
Latrobe: 1.5 2.9 3.13 8.17 (65)
Venue: North Hobart Oval
Umpire: D. Blew
Sandy Bay: Doran, Morton, Mackey, Fromberg, DiVenuto, Olsson
Latrobe: Baldock, Butler, Morse, Aherne, Sutcliffe, Fox
Sandy Bay: Adams (4), Morton (2), R. Steele (2), Palfreyman, Olsson, Elliott, Brimacombe
Latrobe: Morse (3), Baldock, Fox, Harris, Hickman, D. Smith
State Final Teams
B: G. Ricketts Joyce Avery
HB: Fromberg N. Ricketts Doran
C: Pilkington Mackey DiVenuto
HF: Elliott Morton R. Steele
F: Morrison Adams B. Palfreyman
Ruck: Brimacombe Olsson Styles
Reserves: Sward M. Steele
Coach: Rod Olsson
B: W. Dixon Aherne Wyatt
HB: Smith Jillard Butler
C: Sutcliffe Cox D. Smith
HF: Gillam Baldock Hickman
F: Taylor Harris B. Dixon
Ruck: Luxmoore Jaffray Fox
Reserves: Sherriff Parker
Coach: Darrel Baldock