2023 Memorable Game – North Launceston v Scottsdale 1979, 1977, 1975, 1973

AFL Tasmania has announced that the memorable game to be inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame is the Northern Tasmanian Football Association (NTFA) Grand Final of 1979 between North Launceston and Scottsdale.

The 1970s witnessed an intense rivalry between the Scottsdale and North Launceston Football Clubs, two powerhouse teams in Tasmanian football. This period was marked by thrilling matches, fierce competition, and a clash of these titans in four NTFA Grand Finals over a 7 year period that captivated football enthusiasts across the state. Both clubs boasted a rich history and a strong support base, creating an electric atmosphere whenever they faced off on the field. Scottsdale, a small rural town in north-eastern Tasmania, had a deep-rooted passion for Australian football, while North Launceston represented the vibrant working class northern suburbs of the city of Launceston and its surrounding areas.

During the 1970’s Scottsdale enjoyed remarkable success. Led by renowned coach Bob Wilson and then followed by Brian ‘Sammy’ Symes and Greg McClure, the team displayed exceptional skill, determination, and a hunger for victory. The Magpies were a force to be reckoned with in Tasmanian football having won the NTFA titles in 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1977. They also won the memorable 1973 Tasmanian State Premiership.

On the other hand, North Launceston had started a rebuild under Tony Haenan in 1972, but returned to pre-eminence under Peter Daniel with NTFA titles in 1975 and 1978. The Robins, as they were affectionately known, boasted many talented players including a number who would move onto the VFL. The club had a strong legacy and a passionate following, making their clashes with Scottsdale highly anticipated events.

Throughout the 1970s, Scottsdale and North Launceston engaged in some epic battles on the field. During the decade they met on exactly 50 occasions. The overall results were Scottsdale 32 wins, North Launceston 16 wins and two draws. The teams shared Grand Final victories over each other with two each. As well, North Launceston defeated Scottsdale in the 1976 and 1978 Preliminary Finals. Scottsdale returned the favour in the 1974 Pre-Final defeating the Robins.

The Scottsdale versus North Launceston clashes of the 1970s left an enduring legacy in Tasmanian football. The intense rivalries, thrilling matches, and exceptional talent displayed by both clubs captivated audiences and further fuelled the love for the sport in Tasmania. These encounters became the stuff of legends, with fans reminiscing about the battles and the stars that graced the field during that era.

NTFA GRAND FINAL 1979 – Match Report
by Michael McCann (The Examiner)

CLIFFHANGAR – Robins reverse ’76 role

It was like ’76 all over again…but this time, the demoralised – North Launceston – did the demoralising.

In that year only one straight kick stood between victory and defeat in the NTFA grand final, and the same thing happened at York Park in the 1979 re-enactment on Saturday.

Scottsdale replaced Launceston as North’s co-star and mercifully for the Robins, the roles were reversed.

As North could blame itself for its one-point premiership loss in ’76, Scottsdale can blame itself for its two-point heartbreak on Saturday.

Winning opportunities were for the taking, but on both occasions, straight kicks were at a premium.

Chances go begging

Scottsdale, the NTFA entertainer, threw away more winning chances than it will dare to remember over the next six months.

Two marks were disallowed in front of goal, four relatively easy shots for goal resulted in points, and another two failed to score. And to top it all off, experienced defender Danny Hall – switched to centre half forward after key forwards Ricky Rattray and Mick Taylor suffered should injuries – raced into an open goal four minutes from the siren but missed from 20 metres out.

Twenty Scottsdale footballers hung their heads in despair when the siren sounded. Coach Greg McClure was despairing and said: “We just weren’t meant to win it”.

It would have been an injustice had Scottsdale beaten North. After Mark Coniston kicked the opening goal of the match for Scottsdale, North took its lead and held it all day – including the desperate last 15 minutes when the Magpies kicking with the wind, peppered the goals but failed to score.

Squaring the ledger

The 1979 Grand Final was a classic with only 2 points separating the teams after 100 gruelling minutes in fine but windy conditions. North’s victory allowed them to square the ledger on a decade where the two Clubs provided some lasting memories of a great rivalry.

SCOTTSDALE vs NORTH LAUNCESTON – 1977
Magpies class rises in brutal affair

In 1977 Scottsdale had the better of North Launceston in the final 15 minutes of the final quarter of the Grand Final after a brutal contest for much of the game. The Magpies were led by Victorian country football star Brian ‘Sammy’ Symes who coached the Club for one glorious season. The Magpies class came to the fore as they took command and kicked 6 unanswered goals in the concluding stages to lift the title.

NORTH LAUNCESTON vs SCOTTSDALE – 1975
Robins break decade long drought under Daniel

North Launceston finally rose to the pinnacle of the NTFA competition once again under the coaching of ex-Essendon player Peter Daniel. The Robins were a well oiled machine in ’75 and steam rolled the Magpies in the finals series when it counted, comfortably winning the second – semi and Grand Final.

SCOTTSDALE vs NORTH LAUNCESTON – 1973
Mission Accomplished – Magpies win the State

The Scottsdale team of 1973 is legendary in the annals of Tasmania football. North Launceston, who managed a draw in the roster and a close result in the NTFA Grand Final, challenged the Magpies before they won through and went onto State Premiership success against Cooee. The Bob Wilson led Magpies represented Tasmania in the Australian Football Club Championships in Adelaide to round out the greatest season in their storied history.

THE GREAT PLAYERS – 1970-1979

NORTH LAUNCESTON

Coaches: Tony Haenan, Peter Daniel
Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame: Ian Marsh, Neil Maynard, Graham Hunnibell, Kevin McLean, Charlie Thompson, Tony ‘Chang’ Young
VFL Level: Stephen Carey, Stephen Knight, Ian Marsh, Tony Pickett, Bruce Neish
Prominent Players: Stephen Goulding, Richard Spencer, Ricky Young

SCOTTSDALE

Coaches: Bob Wilson, Brian Symes, Greg McClure
Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame: Ron Hall, Jim Leitch, Greg Lethborg, Ken Lette, Stephen Nichols
VFL Level: Rod Hughes, Kevin Egan
Prominent Players: Tad Joniec, Danny Hall, Billy Burns, Max Hadley, Ricky Rattray.