I took my dad and visiting nephew Brin up to Launceston for the big Blues v Hawks game on Saturday. I didn’t feel the need to see the game myself, and anyway it was a sellout, so I was able to drop them at the gate and pick them up again right opposite moments after the final siren. In between I went over to Youngtown, home ground of NTFA side South Launceston, where they were hosting Longford.
When I was a kid and adopting any team called the Tigers, I adopted Longford. Their glory years were the late 50s when they won flags in 55, 57 and 58. A young man called Michael Roach played his first footy there in 75 and 76, dashing up the wing in the yellow sash. The next year he was wearing the same jumper with Richmond in the VFL, and in 1980 kicked the ton and won a premiership. Barry Lawrence won a B&F playing as a forward at Longford before moving to St Kilda.
In those days City South, the Redlegs, were the home team at Youngtown. They also have a marvellous history – they won the three-cornered State Final in 1972, and were invited to play against East Perth and North Adelaide for the Championship of Australia. (It did not go well for the Legs). 30 years ago they merged with East Launceston (the Demons) to enter the then State League, under the name South Launceston, and adopted the Footscray guernsey and Bulldogs nickname. Tasmanian football is in a never-ending state of churn, and South left the latest iteration of the State League after winning their first flag and going broke doing it.
On Saturday I arrived during the first quarter and goals were thin on the ground, although it was a perfect day for footy. (Over at York Park the big boys managed 3 goals between them in the first quarter). It was 2.3 apiece at Youngtown at the first break.
I took some photos of the scoreboard for Scoreboard Pressure. Although State League has come and gone here, it left its mark in the form of an unappealing electronic unit, operated by remote control. A local politician shares sponsorship with another business dealing in rubbish.
I tuned in to the quarter time huddles. Longford spent a long time broken into groups before getting a fairly terse, brief and quiet wrap up from the coach. The Dogs took a more whole-team approach. Both teams were very young and the South coach had to ask for some shoosh a few times, while ironically asking for more talk out on the ground. “Come on it’s the easiest thing in footy just use yer yap”. Preach it fella, I’ve trying to get my soccer kids to do it for years. If you’re slow, tired, or just hopeless, you can still yell.
The home team booted 4 straight to start the 2nd quarter. The Longford full forward and South full back were just having a friendly chat most of that time. Finally on their first push forward Longford hit a target, the string bean steered it straight through, and they followed with two more. Game on, and then it settled into an arm wrestle until half time.
I had to scoot back over to York Park to pick up Dad and Brin at the final siren there, so I had to leave the NTFA behind.
On the way out I was looking for the toilet, saw the familiar stick man sign and pushed through a door. I was nearly poleaxed by the visiting team doctor coming the other way with full kit. ‘Sorry, is this a public toilet?’ ‘Oh yeah no worries just, er, let the boys go first OK?’ So I queued up for a leak behind the Longford backline, a spare man in defence if you will.
York Park is well supplied with half hour parking spots opposite the gate, so I was able to sit there, listen to the last quarter complete with live crowd noise, and Brin and Dad just popped across the road after the siren. (Dad has an injured heel). They were satisfied with Carlton’s effort.
As my father and nephew are both essentially silent men, it was a very quiet drive back down the Midland Highway.
Edit: I forgot to say, the final score was a convincing 13.21.99 to 5.9.39 win to South Launceston.