The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Legendary Team for 2014 is the North Launceston team of 1947.
The North Launceston Robins’ team of 1947 were coached by Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame member, Gavin Luttrell, and their victory over City and then North Hobart on their way to the club’s first Tasmanian state premiership final was the high water mark of North Launceston’s golden era from 1946 to 1950.
The North Launceston Football Club dominated northern Tasmanian and Tasmanian football as a whole in the period from 1946 to 1950. The club won five consecutive Northern Tasmanian Football Association premierships and came within two kicks of achieving the same feat in the state premiership games that they played against the premier teams from southern Tasmania. In the 1946 state grand final against Sandy Bay the Robins went down by six points and then in 1948 they were defeated in the corresponding game by New Town by two points. They comfortably accounted for North Hobart in 1947, New Town in 1949 and also Hobart in 1950 with a rare victory at North Hobart Oval.
Nonetheless, their achievement in winning eight of a possible ten premiership titles in the five-year period is magnificent and their narrow loss by six points in the 1946 state premiership against Sandy Bay steeled them for the 1947 season where they put all before them and became the most dominant team of their generation.
With great players on every line the Robins of 1947 were able to crush both City in the NTFA grand final and then a highly rated North Hobart in the state grand final by a combined margin of 144 points. The club’s astute captain-coach, Gavin Luttrell, led the way in both games, but it was their trio of ‘first ruck’ state representatives in Bert Chilcott, Ray Summers and Noel Atkins who would prove the decisive difference. Together with a young John Leedham and another state representative in key forward, Mervyn Mitchell, the Robins were able to dominate games almost at will.
The state premiership win in 1947 was the first of five to date in the long and proud history of the North Launceston Football Club and while the achievement of the 1947 team is deservedly deemed ‘legendary’ it does not overshadow the record of the North Launceston Robins in this era. In five seasons at the highest level a combined total of 42 senior players delivered the club no less than five NTFA flags and three state titles.
THE ROBINS’ GOLDEN ERA – 1946 to 1950
The North Launceston Robins enjoyed their most successful era in their long history in the seasons 1946 to 1950. The appointment of Gavin Luttrell to lead them as captain-coach was a key factor in their unprecedented success during this ‘golden era’.
The North Launceston Football Club dominated northern Tasmanian and Tasmanian football as a whole in the period from 1946 to 1950. The club won five consecutive Northern Tasmanian Football Association premierships and came within two kicks of achieving the same feat in the state premiership games that they played against the premier teams from southern Tasmania.
The Robins had many champion players who represented the NTFA and Tasmania and who have been recognised both by the club and the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame. Incredibly, only 42 players represented the Robins in their ten NTFA and state grand finals.
NTFA Grand Finals – 1946 to 1950
> 1946 North L’ton 11.11 (77) City 8.4 (52) 6,000+
> 1947 North L’ton 18.14 (122) City 5.13 (43) 6,500
> 1948 North L’ton 12.14 (86) Launceston 13.4 (82) 8,000
> 1949 North L’ton 10.15 (75) Launceston 9.14 (68) 8,500
> 1950 North L’ton 13.11 (89) City 8.11 (59) 8,750
State Premiership Games – 1946 to 1950
> 1946 Sandy Bay 13.13 (91) North L’ton 12.13 (85) 8,500
> 1947 North L’ton 19.16 (130) North Hobart 9.11 (65) 8,000
> 1948 New Town 16.9 (105) North L’ton 16.7 (103) 9,000
> 1949 North L’ton 13.17 (95) New Town 8.7 (55) 11,000
> 1950 North L’ton 14.9 (86) Hobart 8.10 (58) 10,000
Other individual achievements:
> All Australians: John Leedham.
> Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame: Gavin Luttrell, Bert Chilcott, Ray Summers, Noel Atkins, John Leedham, John Hawksley, Noel Clarke, Roy Ringrose.
> Tasmanian representatives: Gavin Luttrell, Bert Chilcott, Ray Summers, Noel Atkins, John Leedham, Max Burke, Merv Mitchell, John Hawksley, Noel Clarke.
> NTFA top goalkickers: Merv Mitchell (87 goals) 1947.
> Club Best and Fairests: Bill Hird, 1946; Merv Mitchell, 1947 and 1949; Ray Summers, 1948; Noel Clarke, 1950.
> Club life members: Clem Fuller, Syd Brooks, John Hawksley, Bert Chilcott, Ray Summers, Merv Mitchell, Bill Hird, Gavin Luttrell, Geoff Claridge, Peter Gunton.
> NTFA representatives: 12 players in 1946; 13 players in 1947; 10 players in 1948; 10 players in 1949; 11 players in 1950.
> LUTTRELL’S ROBINS – 1946 to 1950
The following players represented North Launceston in NTFA premiership games or Tasmanian state premiership games:
Name Premiership Games
Albert Chilcott (HOF) 10
Geoff Claridge 10
George Huxley 10
Jack Turner 10
John Leedham (HOF) 10
Len Harding 10
Max Burke 10
William Hird 10
Ray Summers (HOF) 8
Merv Mitchell 7
Gavin Luttrell (HOF) 6
Reg Burton 6
Syd Brooks 6
Noel Atkins (HOF) 6
Stan Dobjeckie 6
Jack Hawksley (HOF) 6
Hilton Fitzmaurice 4
Bill Higgins 4
Bert Sayer 4
Noel Clarke (HOF) 4
Roy Redman 4
Kevin Pennicott 4
Charlie Fuller 3
Norman Chugg 3
Clem Maloney 3
Frank Horsenail 2
Jack Sutton 2
Lloyd Palliser 2
Peter Gunton 2
Rohan Stanwix 2
Claude LeFevre 2
Len Thorne 2
Ken Fitch 2
Gordon Groves 2
Bill Eadie 2
Jack Bennett 2
Jerry Meagher 2
G. Wood 2
Reg Castles 2
Syd Grubb 2
Don Krushka 2
Roy Ringrose (HOF) 2
Arthur Barrenger 2
> Gavin Luttrell coached every game during this golden reign.
> Only 42 players were used in NTFA and state premiership games in five seasons.
> Eight players contested the ten premiership games.
> Eight players, including Gavin Luttrell, are members of the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.
NORTH BRILLIANTLY CAPTURE 1947 NTFA PREMIERSHIP
North Launceston won their second successive NTFA premiership and their twelfth since the inception of the club in 1899 when they completely eclipsed City in the 1947 final at York Park. North won by 79 points, their greatest winning margin over City for the season. Although both sides threw themselves at each other as soon as play began, the Robins had first use of a strong breeze that favoured the railway goal and dashed off at a pace bewildering to the Redlegs. They moved to a 51-point lead (8.4 to 0.1), which was never decreased throughout the last three terms.
NTFA Regional Grand Final Date: 27 September, 1947
North Launceston 8.4 11.7 15.12 18.14 (122)
City 0.1 2.4 3.9 5.13 (43)
Venue: York Park, Launceston
Umpire: T. Bride (VFL)
North Launceston: Max Burke (BOG), Noel Atkins, Bert Chilcott, Bill Hird, Gavin Luttrell, Jack Turner, Ray Summers, Len Harding.
City: J. Wadley, L. Frost, D. Balfour, R. Whitney, D. Arnold, R. Davidson, J. Wynwood, A. Hutton.
North Launceston: Gavin Luttrell 6, Ray Summers 4, Len Thorne 3, Clem LeFevre 2, Bill Higgins, John Leedham, Len Harding.
City: W. Martin, R. Davidson, M. Pike, W. Spearman, S. Statton.
STATE TITLE EASY FOR NORTH IN 1947
In the contest for the 1947 state premiership North Launceston led all the way. After getting a break of seven goals and six points to one point in a well-sustained and brilliant opening burst, the Robins outpaced, outmarked and outplayed North Hobart to win their first official state premiership with ease by 61 points at York Park, Launceston.
North Hobart supporters stood silent and flabbergasted as the North Launceston players—with the most staggering first-quarter effort since the inception of state premiership matches in Tasmania—dumbfounded the tipsters by kicking 48 points to one against the much fancied TFL premiers.
The Robins’ extraordinary effort is not likely to be forgotten for many years to come by the 8,000 people who paid £621—£26 below the all-time record of £647 set at North Hobart last year—to see the game. North Hobart steadied considerably in the second term, and playing a much better brand of football scored 6.3 to 2.2 to finish the first half 23 points in arrears. But they were outclassed over the last half adding only 4.6 to 10.8.
North Launceston’s score of 19.16 (130 points) to 10.9 (69 points) was:
> The highest ever registered by an NTFA team in a state premiership match.
> The club’s best ever in a state title game, exceeding by 14 points North’s losing effort of 18.8 (116) against North Hobart in 1923.
> The best score recorded in a title match since 1925, when Cananore kicked 20.17 (137 points) against North Launceston.
> And the winning margin of 61 points was the greatest by any team for nine years, Launceston defeating North Hobart by 66 points in 1938.
With their record of only two losses in 20 games throughout the season, North Launceston proved without doubt that they were the outstanding team in Tasmania. Down to the last man in the eighteen, North Launceston were the better-balanced side on Saturday, and with all their players in superb physical condition, they carried too much pace, played with more co-ordination and were too strong in the air for North Hobart.
North Launceston’s policy of by-passing their champion Tasmanian centre half-forward, Mervyn Mitchell—a pre-arranged plan and one that worked successfully and to great advantage against City in the NTFA final the previous Saturday—set the side moving in the first quarter and they were never in danger of being headed.
North Hobart’s state representative Williams stuck very closely to Mitchell throughout the game, but the brilliant northerner marked magnificently at times, made the most of his limited opportunities and contributed two goals. In 24 matches including four intrastate games, Mitchell kicked 87 goals, a record for an NTFA player. With so much height and dash in attack North Launceston looked dangerous each time the ball was booted into the forward lines, and it was from here that the state title was won. On the other hand North Hobart broke down badly in attack, their weakest link this season, where the North Launceston defenders played their role to perfection. All six stuck to their opponents throughout and did not allow them an inch of latitude and were always on the spot to back each other up.
At the commencement of the game coach Gavin Luttrell won the toss from his ex-Lefroy club mate, Hurburgh, and chose the railway goals. North Hobart were first away and Tasmanian representative Rae snapped a behind, but then North Launceston unwound a burst of delightful, systematic, fast, open football which yielded 7.6 in succession, a score which would have been considerably greater but for the grand defence of Brown, Charlesworth, Drewitt and Pullen.
This sensational opening was due in a large measure to the splendid cooperation between follower Bert Chilcott and class-rover Noel Atkins, a winning centreline with Max Burke again the star, sterling defence work, and to the activity and efficiency of the forward lines, where all six players and Atkins, who got two goals, by their cleverness, keen anticipation and safe marking, had the opposing backs on tenterhooks all the time.
North Hobart played their best football in the second quarter. Smith and Challender were more prominent in the ruck. Barling and Collins roved well, Reid at times flashed into the limelight in the centre, and Morgan, Quinn and Osborne were frequently applauded for their efforts in a weak attack. In defence Williams continued to hold Mitchell, and Smith, Pullen and Charlesworth battled hard and successfully. The visitors’ 6.3 to 2.2 for the term took them to within 23 points of North Launceston at half time.
Within six minutes of the opening of the third term a goal by the diminutive Collins reduced North Launceston’s advantage to 18 points—9.9 to 7.3—and it looked as though the visitors would make a match of it. However, their effort was short lived, and goals in quick succession by Mitchell, Bill Higgins and Len Thorne (2), followed by two points and another major from well out by the dashing Atkins, seemed at this early stage to have put the issue beyond all doubt.
North Launceston were playing superlative football—fast, clever and open—with the anticipation, hand passing and co-operation of a winning centre line. John Leedham had come into his own at the pivot and rucks, with the forwards exceptionally good. Play became fierce and hectic in the last term, players’ attention wandered from the ball, while on a couple of occasions Umpire Spokes blew the game up, spoke to the offenders and allowed tempers to cool off. The standard fell away to a degree, play became packed at times, pace decreased, while the handball and passing lost much of its accuracy. But North Launceston were always in command and posted 6.5 to 3.5 to run out state premiers by 61 points.
Tasmanian State Grand Final Date: 4 October, 1947
North Launceston: 7.6 9.8 14.11 19.16 (130)
North Hobart: 0.1 6.3 7.4 10.9 (69)
Venue: York Park, Launceston
Umpire: F. Stokes (VFL)
North Launceston: Max Burke, Syd Brooks, Noel Atkins, George Huxley, Len Thorne, Bill Higgins, Bert Chilcott, Jack Turner.
North Hobart: T. Pullen, E. Morgan, G. Brown, A. Collins, D. Quinn, D. Eaton, G. Smith, D. Challender.
North Launceston: Bill Higgins 4, Noel Atkins 4, Clem LeFevre 3, Len Thorne 3, Merv Mitchell 2, Ray Summers, Gavin Luttrell, Len Harding.
North Hobart: D. Challender 2, R. Barling 2, L. Brough, R. Osborne, E. Morgan, D. Quinn, G. Smith, A. Collins.
Other North Launceston Players Stan Dobjeckie, Bill Hird, Hilton Fitzmaurice, John Leedham, Reg Burton, Geoff Claridge, Ken Fitch.
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