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Australian rules football in Tasmaniamarker has a history dating back to the 1860s, with the state having the distinction of being the first place outside of Victoriamarker to play the sport.

Despite not being represented in a national competition, it remains the most popular sport in the state, and has the second highest participation rate in the country.


The history of Tasmanian football is difficult to trace and it is possible that it may even have played some part in the early origins of Australian Rules Football.

The 1850s

Organised "Foot-ball" matches have been recorded in Van Diemens Landmarker since 1851 and matches in southern Tasmanian towns of Hobartmarker and Richmondmarker between 1853 and 1855 significantly pre-date those recorded across Bass Straitmarker in suburban Melbournemarker.

Sean Fagan claims that early matches played in Tasmania may have been an early form of rugby football, pointing to early mentions of goal posts with cross-bars and offside rules of later Tasmanian clubs.

However apart from the fact that they were organised and played, few details of these matches actually survive and the popularity of Football in the fast growing colony of Victoriamarker quickly eclipsed the following that the past-time had in newly named colony of Tasmania.

The First Clubs

The "football" club formed in New Townmarker in 1864 is believed to be the earliest in Tasmania - but disbanded soon after. By the mid to late 1860s more stable clubs including Derwent and Stowell Football emerged.

It was not until the adoption of "Victorian Football Rules" in 1866 that Tasmanian football was properly organised and recognised and even by then some clubs may have for a brief time continued playing by their own rules.

In 1871 the Break O'Day club was formed and in 1875 the Launceston Club was created. Other clubs to start soon after were Longford (1878), Launceston Church Grammar School (1876) and Cornwall (1879), which became City in 1880.The City and Richmond clubs were formed in 1877 and the Oatlands and Railway clubs in 1879.

New Town formally started in 1878 and along with City and Richmond formed the basis of the game in Hobart, while in Launceston the abovementioned clubs formed the basis for the NTFA.

On May 1 1879 members of the Tasmanian Cricket Association met and decided to form a club for their members, to be called Cricketers.

Tasmanian Football League

The Tasmanian Football League existed as far back as 1879 and matches were played in the Greater Hobartmarker area. It became the TFL Statewide League in 1986, comprising six teams from the South and two teams from Launcestonmarker. In 1987 two more teams were added, from Burniemarker and Devonportmarker. In 1994 a third Launceston team was admitted.

The local leagues have been extremely popular and attracted large crowds, including a Tasmanian record of 24,968 in 1979 for the TFL Grand Final between Glenorchy and Clarence at the North Hobart Ovalmarker, which has still not been broken.

The TFL Statewide League was hemorrhaging badly in the 1990s with most clubs in severe financial difficulty, suffering from very poor attendances, and was losing players to rival competitions including the STFL (Hobart), NTFL (North & North West Coast) and the NTFA (Launceston), and to various mainland competitions where money was more abundant. The League was reduced to six teams by the late 90s, and public interest had gone.

The final TFL match (until 2009) occurred at York Parkmarker (now Aurora Stadium) in Launceston between Northern Bombers (North Launceston) and Clarence in the 2000 Grand Final, which resulted in a 49-point win to Clarence. The crowd attendance of just 6124 was the lowest TFL Grand Final crowd in 40 years, and the second lowest since the 1930s. It was the first TFL Grand Final held away from North Hobart Oval since the early 1920s.

The TFL returned in 2009 with ten clubs, five from the south and five from the north. The grand final was played at Bellerive for the first time ever with Clarence defeating Glenorchy by six points.

Interstate Competition

Tasmania was a strong competitor in early Interstate matches in Australian rules football, before being incorporated into the Allies representative team.

Tasmanian VFL/AFL Bids

With a historically strong supporter base for Australian rules football, one of the highest participation rates in the country and strong local leagues, Tasmania had held back from expressing serious interest in the VFL.

With the relocation of the Sydney Swans and admission of teams from Perthmarker, Brisbanemarker and Adelaidemarker, Tasmania began a push to enter the national competition.

Between 1996 and 1998 a bid was prepared that involved the construction of a 30,000-capacity stadium in the Hobart showgrounds in Glenorchymarker, at the cost of $34 million. The stadium would have been the team's only home ground, but the appeal was unsuccessful and the stadium was not built.

On several occasions the AFL has dismissed notions of admitting a Tasmanian side into the national competition, frequently citing a relatively small state population and a lack of sponsorship interest. A rift between the two major population centres of Hobart and Launcestonmarker about where a "home ground" would be located has also contributed to problematic bids.

Some argue that AFL clubs, like Geelong with its 300,000 local people, have catchment areas with fewer people than Tasmania, with 500,000 people. North Melbourne's home turf has even fewer people. According to this argument Tasmania's larger size is not thought to be very important.

AFL Matches

The Hawthorn Football Club and St Kilda Football Clubs have been playing home matches at Aurora Stadium since 2001, supported by the Tasmanian government in an attempt to build a local following and leave open a possibility of future relocation. In 2006, St Kilda announced that the club would be ceasing its deal with the Tasmanian government and would not play games in Tasmania in 2007.Crowds for these matches average around 15-20,000 per match.

The Tasmanian Devils and the VFL

To quell bids for a Tasmanian team in the AFL, the Australian Football League largely instigated the formation a Tasmanian team for the VFL - The Tasmanian Devils Football Club, formed in 2001 and admitted into the VFL in its inaugural year.

The Devils attracted large crowds, but the following is not considered as significant as it would be if the state had a team in the national competition. The Devils were wound up at the conclusion of the 2008 season in order to make room for the return of the TFL in 2009.

2008 AFL Licence Bid

A government backed Tasmanian bid was prepared in response to the AFL admitting new licences for the Gold Coast and Western Sydney. While the AFL admitted that the state had put together a stronger business case, it was once again swiftly rejected by the league. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou was quoted to have said to the Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon "Not now, not ever". Hobart's major daily newspaper The Mercury started a petition in response to this news on April 16, 2008. The premier vowed to bypass the AFL CEO and take the appeal directly to the AFL Commission.

On 30 July, the Tasmanian government announced that it had secured a major sponsor, Mars for the bid in a deal worth $4 million over 3 years. It was long doubted by the AFL that the Tasmanian club would secure corporate interest before a proposal is accepted by the AFL and this announcement came as a major shock as it was before a sponsor could be found for either the Gold Coast or Western Sydney Clubs and as AFL clubs Richmond and Western Bulldogs were left without a major sponsor for 2009. In addition to the Gemba financial audit of the bid to meet the AFL criteria, the Tasmania team had secured more than 20,000 potential members, ahead of the Gold Coast and Western Sydney bid in raw numbers.


In 2007, there were 4,500 senior players and a total of 32,138 participants in Aussie Rules in Tasmania. A total participation per capita of 5% is the second-highest participation in the country, behind the Northern Territorymarker. [278192]


Attendance Record

Major Australian Rules Events in Tasmania

Tasmanian Football Team of the Century

In 2004 the Board of Management of AFL Tasmania named a Team of the Century for the state. It had 18 on field and seven interchange players as well as an umpire, coach and assistant coach.

Notable Tasmanian Players in the AFL

Tasmania has supplied over 300 players to the elite level, including greats such as Matthew Richardson, Ian Stewart, Darrin Pritchard, Darrell Baldock, Royce Hart, Peter Hudson, Viv Valentine, George Vautin, Arthur Hodgson, Rodney Eade, John McCarthy, Michael Gale, Brendon Gale, Alastair Lynch,Adrian Fletcher,Simon Atkins. Also note David Neitz, Nick Riewoldt and Garry Lyon are among those born in the state, but never played at a major level.

Others to have played VFL/AFL football include -

Representative Side

The Tasmanian representative team have played State of Origin test matches against all other Australian states. They still play at U19 level.

See Also Interstate matches in Australian rules football

Governing body

The governing body for Aussie Rules in Tasmania is AFL Tasmania.

It is divided into north and southern regional bodies:

Leagues & Clubs

Professional Southern Tasmanian Clubs


Defunct Leagues

  • Deloraine Football Association
  • Esk Football Association
  • Esk Deloraine Football Association
  • Esperance Football Association
  • Fingal Football Association
  • Huon Football Association
  • Kingborough Football Association
  • Midlands Football Association
  • North West Christian Amateur Football League
  • North West Football Union
  • Northern Tasmanian Football Association (original)
  • Peninsula Football Association
  • South East Districts Football Association
  • Southern Districts Football Association
  • Tasman Football Association
  • Tasmanian Amateur Football League
  • Tamar Football Association
  • West Tasmanian Football Association




Principle Venues


  5. Official Website of the Australian Football League > News Article > AFL says no to Tassie
  6. Petition for a Tassie AFL team | Mercury - The Voice of Tasmania
  10. More chase Sherrin than before -
  • AFL Tasmania
  • Australian Football League

External links

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