Thursday, April 30, 2020

The official opening of Devonport's Valley Road in 1972

Photo:  Cover of the match programme for the official opening of Valley Road [Courtesy of Stephen Pitchford]

Valley Road, the home of NPL Tasmania champions Devonport Strikers, was officially opened on Saturday, 3 June, 1972.

To mark the occasion, Devonport City hosted southerners Metro.

There was also a junior game as a curtain-raiser.

Valley Road was built on an area of forest and swamp land and today it is one of the finest football complexes in Tasmania.

As well as a grass pitch, there is also a smaller artificial pitch.

This ground has hosted some big games, including one featuring George Best in 1989, as well as FFA Cup and NPL finals series involving Devonport.

Here is the official match programme from that day in 1972.

Photo:  Devonport president Gordon Rimmer's welcome

Photo:  Devonport's coach at the time was Charlie Baird

I am indebted to Stephen Pitchford for providing me with the match programme.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Skaro and Toshack among the scorers when Tasmania met Cardiff City in 1968

Photo:  Two Cardiff City players run onto the Queenborough Aussie Rules ground, the home of Sandy Bay, for the game against Tasmania on Monday, 10 June 1968 [PlessPix]

On the public holiday Monday of 10 June 1968, Tasmania met the visiting English Second Division club Cardiff City at Queenborough in Sandy Bay before a crowd of 4,500.

Cardiff City won 5-1, after leading 3-0 at half-time, but at least Tasmania scored.

Tasmania’s goal came from a penalty taken by Croatia’s powerful forward Tony Skaro.

Skaro was one of the State’s top strikers and he rifled home the spot kick to make the score 4-1.

Tasmania’s captain Dick Girling had attacked down the right wing and crossed for Olympia team-mate Norm Stanton to head home, but the interstate referee, Mr J Sampey, had already blown the whistle for a penalty and Skaro stepped up to put his name in the record books of Tasmanian football.

Cardiff took the lead in the 22nd minute when a corner, conceded by Mike Richards and taken by Leslie Lea was headed home by the 1.81m tall, 19-year-old striker, John Toshack.

Toshack was valued at 140,000 English Pounds at that time and went on in later years to star with Liverpool, where his partnership with Kevin Keegan and Steve Heighway yielded many goals and trophies.

He earned 40 caps for Wales and scored 13 goals for the national side.

Toshack became fluent in Spanish and was twice coach of Real Madrid (1989-90, and 1999), taking them to one league title during his first tenure at the Spanish giants.

It was 2-0 in the 26th minute when a move involving David Carver and Leighton Phillips was finished off by Graham Coldrick with an unstoppable shot.

Brian Clark added the third three minutes before half-time, following a goalmouth scrimmage.

Olympia goalkeeper Michael Roussos missed the game because of injury.  Bain was therefore in goal and he was replaced at half-time by Joe Udovicic.  The tall and speedy striker Hans Streit replaced Harper.

Tasmania earned their first corner of the game in the 50th minute, but 5 minutes later came the goal of the match when Lea’s cross went straight to Ronnie Bird, who scored with a bullet-like header to make it 4-0.

Skaro then pulled a goal back for Tasmania, but Cardiff sealed the 5-1 win 6 minutes from the end when Bird netted with a left-footed drive.

The injured Skaro had come off by then, to be replaced by Van der Pols, while Harper was replaced by Joe Hanna.

Richards was excellent in defence for Tasmania, while both Tasmanian goalkeepers performed well.

The Cardiff City touring party were entertained at a dinner and cabaret evening at the Australian Croatian Club in Glenorchy following the game and I have been reliably informed by someone who was there that Toshack enjoyed a drink or two, or three.

The Tasmanian squad had eight new State representatives, with only Dick Girling (5 caps), Egon Mathias (8 caps) and Hans Streit (3 caps) having represented the State before.

The Tasmanian team was:  Bain (Launceston United), Dick Girling (Capt, Olympia), Karl Schwesinger (Olympia), Lachie Vagianos (Olympia), Egon Mathias (Rapid), Mike Richards (Olympia), Norman Stanton (Olympia), Ottmar Bachinger (Rapid), Hans Streit (Northern Juventus), Ante Skaro (Croatia), Parkin (Olympia).  Reserves:  Joe Udovicic (Croatia), Joe Hanna (Juventus), Van der Pols (Launceston United), Harper (Olympia).

Monday, April 27, 2020

North-West win the 1968 intrastate series in Tasmania for only the second time, and in Hobart to boot

Regional representative games were still in vogue in 1968 in Tasmania.

On the long weekend in June 1968, Southern Tasmania played the North-West at South Hobart on Saturday, 8 June 1968, with the winner scheduled to play the North on the public holiday Monday at Queenborough in Sandy Bay.

The intrastate final was scheduled to be the curtain-raiser to the Tasmania versus Cardiff City match at Queenborough.

On the Saturday, Southern Tasmania fielded a second-string outfit as most of the players from the South squad were in the Tasmanian team to play Cardiff.

It all backfired, however, as the North-West representative team thrashed the South 6-2 to qualify for Monday’s final against the North.

The North-West representative squad was:  Hardcastle (Devonport), Ralph (Ulverstone), Filbrook (Burnie Spartans), Bourke (Ulverstone), John Compagne (Ulverstone), Rodger (Capt, Burnie Spartans), Cleland (Burnie Spartans), Groeneveld (Burnie Spartans), Targett (Burnie Spartans), D Dolliver (Ulverstone), T Dolliver (Ulverstone).

The Southern Tasmanian squad was:  David Siggins (White Eagles), Roman Zapatocki (Croatia), David Stoddart Snr (White Eagles), Tony Goodman (Juventus), Joe Hanna (Juventus), Barry Shacklady (Olympia), Bernard Siggins (Caledonians), Reznik (Rapid), Wally Foster (Rapid), Peter Wood (Juventus), Jack Dilba (Rapid), John Dilba (Rapid), Kevin Leung (Croatia), Philip Owen (Juventus), Colin West (South Hobart), Darfunger (Rapid).

North-West took a 14th-minute lead against South through a goal by Cleland, but Shacklady equalised with a 36th-minute free-kick.

A penalty by Hanna put South ahead, Filbrook having punched Shacklady’s effort out to concede the spot-kick.

Targett equalised for the North-West on what should have been the stroke of half-time.

But, the half-time whistle was not blown after that goal as referee Doug Slater’s watch had been stopped when he was hit on the arm by the ball during the first half and he didn’t realise the first 45 minutes had elapsed.

Two more goals came before the break, Willem Groeneveld and Dean Dolliver netting for the North-West to give them a 4-2 lead.

Linesman John de Witt then had to run out onto the field to tell Slater that time was up.  The other linesman, Jim Dolliver, wasn’t wearing a watch.

The South replaced Reznik and the limping Shacklady with Kevin Leung and Jack Dilba at the interval, but Groeneveld and Tom Dolliver netted in the second half to give North-West a 6-2 win and a place in the final on the Monday.

The North-West won the 1968 intrastate series by downing the North 3-2 at Queenborough on the Monday for only their second intrastate title.

The North squad was:  Stegmann (George Town), Scaglione (South Launceston), Beresford, Mies, Webb, Morosini, Visentin, Strickland, Whitemore (Northern Juventus), Kremerskothen, Donaldson, Hackett, G Smith, Bain (Launceston United), Wiggett (George Town). 

Dean Dolliver put the North-West ahead early in the final, but Morosini equalised for the North soon after.

Cleland restored the North-West lead from close range, while Visentin twice tested North-West keeper Hardcastle before the break.

Five minutes after the restart, Dean Dolliver fired the North-West to a 3-1 lead, prompting the North to replace goalkeeper Stegmann with Scaglione.

It was end-to-end action after that as the North-West’s Cleland missed an open goal and Targett had a shot well saved.

Whitemore pulled a goal back for North in the 74th minute after a perfect through-ball had set him up with the chance.

Tom Dolliver missed two chances before the end for North-West when he had only the keeper to beat on both occasions.

North’s Visentin had a header tipped over the bar by Hardcastle, while Hardcastle also did well to turn a Visentin shot wide of a post.

North-West hung on for a 3-2 win to give them a second intrastate representative title.

Wouldn’t it be a huge fillip for football in Tasmania if such an intrastate series was revived?  Parochialism is synonymous with Tasmania in all fields, including sport, and such an intrastate series would be sure to fire up supporters and players from all over the island.

In a footnote, a Tasmanian Under-16 side was named to compete in an interstate junior tournament in Melbourne later in 1968.

The Tasmania squad was:  (Goalkeepers) Tony Garrett (South), G Morice (North);  (Backs)  Colin Sugden, E Sorbian Jim Mackinnon (South), R Dennis (North);  (Half-backs)  D McKean, Robbie Mills, G Cooper (South), M Newell (North-West);  (Forwards)  Marian Bilac, Tony Godfrey, Joe Glasovac (South), F De Paoli (North), P Shegog, G Barry (North-West).

My next article will be about that Tasmania versus Cardiff City game in 1968.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Largest crowd ever at South Hobart was for 1981 State League decider

Photo:  Match report of 1981 Tasmanian State League decider published in Melbourne paper "Soccer Action. [Click on image to enlarge for reading.]

The largest crowd I have seen at South Hobart for a league game was 2,000, and that was on Sunday, 9 August 1981.

People were still trying to get through the turnstiles when the title decider kicked off on a Sunday afternoon.

The queue ran down to the roundabout at the Macquarie Street intersection.

The State League match was between Brighton ICL Caledonians and Launceston Juventus.

Calies needed just a draw to win the State League title, while Juventus had to win to snare the title.

It was the perfect finale to the season and hundreds of supporters travelled to Hobart from Launceston to swell the home crowd.

I was writing for the Melbourne paper “Soccer Action” at the time and it was three years before I joined The Mercury.

When I became soccer writer for The Mercury in 1984, I was still writing for “Soccer Action”, as well as the Sydney publication, “Australian Soccer Weekly”.

Match days at South Hobart were a hectic time for me in those days before computers and the Internet.

After the Saturday or Sunday game, I would sit in the back seat of my Datsun Bluebird stationwagon with my trusty Royal manual typewriter and type out three match reports, all of them different in various ways.

I would then drive down Macquarie Street and mail a copy of the report for Sydney’s “Australian Soccer Weekly” at the GPO.

I would then go to the offices of The Mercury, which were next to the GPO and in Macquarie Street, and deliver my report for that paper.

Then came the long drive to Hobart Airport, where I’d go to the freight office and do the paper work to send my “Soccer Action” report via air express on the overnight flight to Melbourne.  They wanted the reports by Monday morning for the Wednesday publication.

Later, I was able to use the office facilities at the Tasmanian Soccer Association headquarters, which were next to the netball courts outside the South Hobart ground.  That was before headquarters moved to KGV Park.  It was much more practical than the back of the stationwagon and I was able to use an electric typewriter.

Nowadays, with computers, the Internet and email, it would be a cinch to write three different match reports.  They could then be emailed to the three different papers with a touch of the ‘send’ button.

Incidentally, one of my most unusual match reports for The Mercury came in the late 1990s.  My work with Tasmania Police sometimes took me to places all over Australia and so I made sure I had a reliable network of sources whom I could ring after the weekend’s games if I was interstate in order to write my match report.

I would then dictate over the phone to a copytaker at The Mercury.  The copytakers were very experienced typists and they could type as quickly as you could dictate the story to them.

One particular weekend, I was on a broken-down bus (not even the lights were working) on a lonely road, and at night, on Kangaroo Island, off the South Australian coast.  After a few phone calls to my sources, I dictated the story to a copytaker and the report was duly published the next day and no-one would even have known I had not been at the games in Hobart that weekend.

Back to the title decider between Brighton ICL Caledonians and Launceston Juventus in 1981.

“Soccer Action” editor, Laurie Schwab, was an excellent journalist and he had high standards.  We reporters would include weather and pitch conditions in our reports, as well as line-ups, in formation, the names of all three match officials, and we also rated each player on a scale of 1 to 10 for their performance in the game.  A score of 10 was the maximum possible and not many players were rated at that level.  Very few would have rated less than 3.  They would probably have been substituted during the game!

My match report of that title decider on Sunday, 9 August 1981, from the “Soccer Action” edition of Wednesday, 12 August 1981, heads this article.

A link to the “Soccer Action” Archives is at:

You can see reports of Tasmanian soccer from 1979 until the paper ceased publication in 1987 in complete editions of the paper at this site.  The paper was published from 1976 until 1987.