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.


John Skaro said...

One of my Dad's best mates and my sister's Godfather, Bill Vojtek, worked for Soccer Action in those days, Walter. He was of course controversially left out of the inaugural Australian World Cup Finals squad by Rale Rasic in 1974. I remember "Uncle" Bill taking me down to the offices of The Age in Melbourne's Spencer St in 1981- where Soccer Action was published - and letting me loose on the huge store room of past issues of Cricketer Magazine and Annuals. I was like a kid in a lolly shop. Billy also introduced me to cricket journalist and Sunday Observer sport's editor, Ken Piesse. This set me on the path to fulfilling ambitions as a writer - eventually in advertising rather than journalism.

Brian Young said...

So as a natural technological progression, can we expect to see your march reports appear on this blog just a few minutes after the final whistle?!😁

Walter said...

No, Brian. We'll have moved to warp speed by then and the match reports will be published before the game is even played! LOL