2013 Memorable Game – Burnie vs. North Launceston 1963

The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame Memorable Game for 2013 is the Tasmanian State Grand Final of 1963 between the Burnie Tigers and North Launceston Robins, which was played at York Park (Aurora Stadium).

Members of the Burnie Tigers 1963 Tasmanian State Premiership team will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their achievement this year. That year the Tigers became the first team from Burnie to become state premiers in a year when north-west coastal football again dominated Tasmanian football.

The memorable 1963 state final positioned the Burnie Tigers at the pinnacle of Tasmanian football for the first and only time in their history. It was a richly deserved win following a golden era under the coaching guidance of Paddy Martin, Don Gale and John Heathcote. The Tigers’ 1963 victory marked their fifth attempt at securing state honours and was the high point in the club’s six-year period of domination over north-west football which saw them win regional titles in 1958, 1959 and 1960 under GB Paddy Martin; in 1962 under Don Gale; and in 1963 under John Heathcote. In 1961 the Tigers were runners-up to West Park co-tenants, the Cooee Bulldogs, by five points.

The 1963 state final was Burnie’s eleventh regional or state grand final in the six-year period from 1958 to 1963. No other club has played in so many grand finals in a six-year period in Tasmanian football history since the commencement of the three-region state premiership competition in 1954. During this era the Burnie and Cooee clubs had competed in the preceding five state grand finals only to come away with the bridesmaid tag each time, including on home soil in 1958 and 1961.

The Burnie team of this era entered the annals of Tasmanian football history on a wave of expectation that ran the length of the north-west coast. Belief was strong that the Tigers would at last prevail after they comfortably accounted for Hobart in the state pre-final at West Park. The state final was watched by a crowd of 6,500 at North Launceston’s home ground of York Park. The Tigers started strongly against the underdog North Launceston and, except for inaccuracy, may have won more comfortably than the final margin of 24 points.

PIVOT SUMS UP courtesy of Vic Castles of The Advocate

Burnie brought victory and history to the north-west coast on Saturday, when it easily defeated North Launceston in the state premiership at York Park. The Tigers’ blistering pace and scintillating play on style overpowered the Robins in the first few minutes and they never relinquished their ascendency even when North Launceston pressed in the final quarter.

Only the Tigers’ atrocious kicking kept the margin within reach through the first three quarters of the game before the final score read: Burnie 8.25 (73) to North Launceston 6.13 (49).

Burnie never looked in danger of defeat but it was a tribute to the fighting qualities of North Launceston that the game was not dull or one-sided. Burnie’s key position players held the ascendency for much of the day until North’s veteran centreman Lerrel Sharp threatened to drag his team back into the game. However the Tigers found wingman Ian Batt up to the task as he repeatedly used his Burnie Gift winning pace to advantage.

The Burnie backline was well served by the work of Graham Thorp on Bob Withers and the ‘greyhound’ Ron Cornish on Jack Hawksley. Cornish was devastating and delighted spectators with long clearing dashes, sometimes as far up the ground as centre half forward.

Burnie’s determination, big man advantage, pace and close checking tactics, enabled it to outplay North for much of the game and finally achieve their elusive first state premiership.

Tasmanian State Grand Final 1963
Burnie: 2.7 | 6.14 | 8.16 | 8.25 (73)

North Launceston: 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.12 | 6.13 (40)

Burnie: J. Heathcote 2, T. Woolley 2, K. Jones 1, B. Murfett 1, K. Symons 1, G. Lynch 1.

North Launceston: B. Withers 2, J. Hawksley 2, R. Jones 1, J. Swain 1.

Burnie: M. McCormack, D. Carter, I. Batt, J. Heathcote, R. Cornish, K. Symons, A. Young.
North Launceston: C. Thompson, L. Sharp, G. Henderson, H. Boyd, J. Swain, P. Sherry, S. Wing, E. Withers,


B: K. Redman, R. Cornish, M. McCormack.
HB: G. Thorp, A. Young, J. Munro.
C: I. Batt, M. Goninnon, A. Webb.
HF: P. Sweeney, K. Jones, K. Symons.
F: L. Cox, I. Woolley, G. Lynch.
R: D. Carter, B. Murfett, J. Heathcote
Int: I. Parker, P. Anderson, T. Shadbolt.
Coach: J. Heathcote.

North Launceston

B: P. Sherry, R. Dargavel, J. Swain.
HB: T. Stingle, S. Wing, R. Bennett.
C: K. McLean, L. Sharp, G. Withers.
HF: B. Withers, H. Boys, W. Hayes.
F: G. Henderson, J. Hawksley, D. Ryan.
R: W. Turner, C. Thompson, R. Jones.
Int: L. Gurr, B. Dunstore.
Coach: B. Withers