The eighth memorable game to be inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame is the last-gasp victory by the Tasmanian state representative team over Western Australia at North Hobart Oval on 15th June 1970.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s Tasmanian representative football was at a low ebb. The state competed unsuccessfully at the 1969 and 1972 Australian National Carnivals, being comprehensively beaten by the big three states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. At the time, there was disgruntled talk about how the present-day teams were a mere shadow of those from Tasmania’s golden era of football in the 1950s and early 1960s. There were a number of reasons for this decline in talent but chief amongst them was the fact that Tasmania had lost scores of high quality players to Victoria to play in the AFL’s precursor competition, the VFL.
The 1970 interstate game therefore pitted a depleted Tasmanian side against Western Australia, a state which was still enjoying relative isolation in an era when airline flights were costly and a novelty. While nearly as many Western Australians as Tasmanians were playing in the VFL, WA had six times the population to draw from.
The Western Australians arrived in Hobart in a confident frame of mind. On Saturday 13th June they had come closer than ever before to recording an upset victory over the VFL in Melbourne, losing by a mere six points despite managing 30 scoring shots to 24. Moreover the last time Western Australia had played Tasmania, at the previous year’s Adelaide carnival, the Sandgropers had done virtually as they pleased all day en route to a 113-point victory.
WA team captain Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer told Tasmanian journalists that his side simply could not countenance anything other than a convincing win. “If we can’t beat Tasmania, we ought to give the game away,” he declared, presumably with the intention of inspiring his West Australian teammates.
The statement was inspirational all right, but it would not be the men in yellow and black who would be thanking Farmer after the game. Tasmania stole the match with phenomenal goal shooting and fierce tackling in the opening two and a half quarters, lost it late in the third and for most of the final quarter when it switched to fancy short passing, and won it again in a steamrolling final three minutes. The supposedly undermanned Tasmanians had played superbly and bucked the odds with a two-point win.
Subsequently, Advocate journalist Allan Leeson could not restrain himself from observing that, apropos of Farmer’s earlier comment about giving the game away if they lost, “there are now 20 redundant interstate footballers”.
B: Kayden Edwards, Paul Vinar, Max Urquhart.
HB: John Jillard, Anthony Thiessen, Ricky Graham.
C: Stan Dac, Roger Steele, Rodney Stirling.
HF: John Bingley, Darrel Baldock, Ron Hall.
F: Lance Styles, Athol Hodgetts, John Marshall.
R: Jim Frost, John Devine, John Bonney.
Int: Adrian Bowden, Ray Johnson.
Coach: John Devine.
B: Alan Styles, Graham Reilly, Ian Cooper.
HB: Trevor Sprigg, Bob Shields, Len Clark.
C: Greg Brehaut, Peter Manning, George Young.
HF: Stephen Smeath, Mal Brown, Peter Metropolis.
F: Peter Burton, Lindsay Carroll, Bruce Duperouzel.
R: Graham Farmer, Bill Dempsey, Bill Walker.
Int: Bob Page, Cam Blakemore.
Coach: Graham Farmer.