Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Vale Brian David Roberts (7-11-1935 - 29-5-2022)

Photo:  Brian Roberts had a distinguished career as an administrator at club and State levels in Tasmanian football. [PlessPix] 

Brian Roberts, a stalwart of South Hobart FC and a prominent figure in Tasmanian football, passed away on Sunday in Hobart at the age of 86.

Brian has been in deteriorating health in recent years and was rarely able to attend matches this season.

Born in Wales, Brian watched Wrexham as a youngster and played for his school team.

He eventually became a passionate Everton fan and always followed the Toffees’ fortunes.

Brian’s family moved to Tasmania when he was 16 and they owned a shop at Seven Mile Beach.

Photo:  Brian and Keith Roberts were honoured by the South Hobart FC in 2021 for their services to the club. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Keith and Brian Roberts on that auspicious day last season. [PlessPix]

Brian eventually pursued a career in the insurance industry and his love of football saw him begin his involvement with the game in Tasmania in his late teens.

He tried out for Caledonians, one of the top sides in Tasmania, but admitted that he couldn’t make the grade with the Scottish-backed club.

He became the “club’s officer” with the Tasmanian Soccer Association and was instrumental in the founding of the Dutch-backed club Hollandia.

He played for Hollandia’s reserve side but moved on to the Hydro club, which became Hobart Rangers.

He played for Rangers’ first team but found himself in the reserves after the club began to import Scottish recruits and challenge for top honours.

He left the game briefly but was encouraged to join Austrian-based club Rapid as assistant coach by Tom McLoughlin, whom he had met in the course of his work.

Photo:  Brian Roberts as manager of a Tasmanian youth side coached by Colin Francis (right).   

He played for Rapid reserves until he met Juergen Webb, who persuaded him to join South Hobart and that is how his long association with the club began.

The club immediately appointed him to their committee and he served as treasurer for the next 14 years while also playing in the reserves.

Brian played his final game aged 55 with ALPS, a subsidiary team under the South Hobart banner.

One of Brian’s fondest memories was of South Hobart winning the Southern Tasmanian title under coach Tony Skaro in 1978.

Photo:  Brian Roberts, as chairman of the Tasmanian Soccer Federation, presents University captain Craig Pitt with the State League trophy in 2001. [PlessPix]  

Brian served as a director of the Tasmanian Soccer Federation for six years in the 1980s and was Chairman of that body for a time.

He resigned from the TSF and returned to his first love, South Hobart, in an advisory capacity.

He credited Les Richardson with South Hobart occupying and developing the Wellesley Park facilities, which have been considerably upgraded in recent years.  Brian assisted with much of the physical work in erecting floodlights at the venue.

Brian always paid tribute to Brett Anderton, Vicky and Ken Morton for turning the club around and becoming a leading side in Tasmanian football.

He always recognised the work done for the club by Pam Clarke, who was chair at one time and whose son played for South Hobart, and he had nothing but praise for Paul Roberts (not a relative), who did a lot of work on match days by putting up the goal nets and taking them down after games.

A regular at South Hobart games, Brian’s voice could often be heard echoing around the ground with the advice:  “Face, South!  Face!  Options, South!  Options!”

Photo:  Brian Roberts (fourth from right) at the Governor's reception in honour of South Hobart's Centenary in 2010. [PlessPix]

Brian was active as a junior coach at all his clubs and he was involved in the development and promotion of junior football in the Huon Valley.

He featured prominently in South Hobart’s centenary celebrations in 2010.

Brian had a self-deprecating sense of humour and he was often at games with his brother, Keith, a prominent statistician and historian of, not only South Hobart FC, but of football in Tasmania.

Brian will be missed by all who knew him.

I shall certainly miss his insights into the Tasmanian game.  He was often involved in writing match reports and other observations on the game a decade and more ago.

He always welcomed me warmly when I saw him at games with the question:  “What news, Walter?  What news?”

He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and daughters Kirsty and Bronwen and their families.

Photo:  Keith and Brian Roberts at South Hobart ground. [PlessPix]  

The familiar sight of Brian with his brother Keith at South Hobart games was always something to look forward to because of the anecdotes, information and statistics that would be imparted.

Vale, Brian.

Photo:  Brian and Keith Roberts with Les Richardson (left) at South Hobart. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Brian Roberts (left) with former South Hobart and Glenorchy Knights star striker, Neil Thomas. [Photo by John Skaro]


Brian Young said...

Vale Brian. A true gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Vale Brain. You will be missed by all soccer fans

Darbs said...

Great piece Walter….he was a great man Brian and did so much for SHFC and Tas football in general ….I too remember the ‘what’s news’ When ever I ever ran into him around the traps.
Brian was my first coach when joining SHFC in 97…..’stop mooning about’ and ‘get up his ginger’ (at the time I wasn’t sure what he was on about), are deeply entrenched memories.
RIP Brian

John Skaro said...

"Man apiece!," you could always hear Brian exhort, and I'm sure as it reverberated around Darcy St in 1978, it helped Neil Thomas, Robert New, Chris and David Baker et al to achieve that wonderful drought-breaking Premiership for South. Brian's rectitude, decency and love of the game was infectious and helped everyone, including me, appreciate everything that is good, fair and joyous about football. One of the happiest times of my life was Saturday afternoons at South Hobart in those days.
RIP, Brian.

Red & Blue forever said...

Brian provided the pulse that kept South's heart beating through poorer times past. It's heart beats stronger now than ever in large part thanks to Brian....alas his heart beats no longer. Brian was also a huge supporter of South's lower league/social teams and up until the end of last season could be heard providing his wit, wisdom, anecdotes and encouragement during halftime addresses.

He will be greatly missed by all, especially on match days at Darcy Street.

RIP Brian

Ray Carroll said...

Sad news. All who new Brian will be deeply moved by his passing. His knowledge of South's was amazing. He could remember every member of the South's 1971 team which was the first team I was with in Tasmania. I will miss our match day talks about the old days. R.I.P.

Les Richardson said...

Good buy my friend and mentor will miss our chats about football especially the 16 or so years while together at South. The advice and support you gave when I was Chairman / President of Souths was invaluable during the clubs dark days. RIP Brian
Les Richardson