The other day I posted a game on Tiger Tube from 1973. It was from The Championship of Australia, when the premiers of the VFL and WAFL as well as the Tasmanian State premiers were invited to the Adelaide Oval to play with the SANFL premiers in a two day knockout competition.
On the Saturday a crowd of 34,000 watched Subiaco beat Scottsdale, and Richmond beat Glenelg in the “semi finals”. With the locals out of the running, the crowd on Sunday was less than 10,000. Richmond accounted for Subiaco to be Champions of Australia.
In the 3rd place game, Glenelg (featuring huge stars such as Graham Cornes, Laurie Sandilands and Peter Marker) gave Scottsdale a fearful drubbing.
Scottsdale played in the NTFA. From the 1920s to the 80s, footy here in Tasmania was played in three regional leagues, as well as a host of smaller country leagues. The State final was played each year between the regional premiers. The TFL was based in Hobart, with one country team, New Norfolk. The NWFU in its classic form had eight teams stretching across the north west coast from Wynyard to Latrobe.
The NTFA’s home was York Park, now Aurora Stadium, in Launceston. Four city teams plus the Longford Tigers and Scottsdale Magpies made up the classic NTFA. Scottsdale won five flags between 1965 and 1973.
In 1973 the Magpies finished the season undefeated, with just a minor blip in a draw with North Launceston. They beat North in the Grand Final, then played TFL premiers Hobart for the right to play NWFU premiers Cooee in the State Final at West Park in Burnie. ( Whichever league held the title got a free pass to the next year’s final). The Pies went south and thrashed the Hobart Tigers by 10 goals. I can imagine the entourage on the 4-hour drive back, black and white scarves waving out windows.
Next week they did it all again, driving northwest to Burnie to take on the Cooee Bulldogs, who represented a tiny town (now swallowed by Burnie) with a milk factory, an abattoir and saleyard. As a kid I was a Burnie Tigers fan – their glory days were already gone in 1973 and their fierce rivalry with Cooee was embarrassingly one-sided.
At three quarter time in the State Final things looked dire for the Pies, who were 32 points down. But they rallied under the urging of captain coach Bob Wilson, and prevailed by 11 points.
I was five at the time and living just a few minutes walk from West Park. I wish I could say I had gone along with my Dad (as he went with his Dad to the famous “Goalpost Final” at the same ground), but Dad would have been busy marking schoolwork or digging the veggie garden. After his playing days were over he didn’t feel the call of the siren to be a spectator the way that I always have.
It must have been a huge thrill for the people of Scottsdale, so proud of their footy team, to win the State Final and finally be acknowledged as the best in the state. But then to get the chance to go to the mainland and play the best over there – that would have been incredible.
Today I happened to be in Scottsdale, on a school holiday drive with the family and dog. We went to the Recreation Ground to give Winston a run around, and for me to snap some pictures for Vin Maskell over at Scoreboard Pressure. The scoreboards were locked, otherwise I would have done as Vin does, and set up a famous score such as their State Final triumph over Cooee.
The red soil would have been hell to get out of the white stripes on the old woollen Magpie jumpers. Sadly we are only here between my soccer commitments in Hobart, so we won’t get a chance to see them play on this trip.
Although none of the above games happened here, I like to think that there was some kind of homecoming offered to the team on its return from Adelaide, to recognise that the team from this little town had strode the same stage as the big boys and done its best.