The Hobart

Ye Olde North Hobart Colonial Footy Days

by Peta Hen
Ye Olde North Hobart Colonial Footy Days

Whether you’re for, against or on the fence regarding Tassie’s AFL team and/ or stadium, North Hobart Football Club (NHFC) is considered the ancestral home of Aussie Rules footy in Hobart. We caught up with Rick Tipping for a glimpse back into the early days of NHFC and Tasmanian AFL.

The North Hobart Football Club (NHFC) has been around since 1881. How did it begin? Tom Wills is often considered the ‘founder’ of Australian Rules football. The first game was played in Melbourne in 1858, and the first rules were written down by Wills and others in 1859. In Hobart, informal games were played on a large paddock belonging to Smith’s Dairy at the domain end of Campbell Street, and on 14 May 1881, some of the workers got together over a few drinks at the Waggon and Horses Hotel and made the decision to form North Hobart Football Club.

Has the club had any ongoing rivalries with other clubs over the decades? Some of the early rivalries were with clubs that no longer exist – including Cananore and Lefroy. The club has had enduring rivalries with clubs like Wynyard in the North West and Longford in the north.

Were there championships back then and did NHFC compete? By the 1890s the club was playing regular games in the Southern Tasmanian Football Association and won its first senior premiership in 1902. Other early teams included Railway, Hutchins, New Town, Cricketers, City, Richmond and High School. North Hobart went on to become one of Australia’s most successful football clubs in a premier competition, winning 28 men’s premierships in its 142-year history. By comparison, Essendon and Carlton in the current AFL have each won 16 flags.

The crowd at NHFC in 1923. Pic: Tasmanian Archives

Have any prominent AFL stars made their start at the NHFC? Who? Many North Hobart players have gone on to play in the VFL/AFL and AFLW. Currently playing are Liam Jones (Western Bulldogs), Jye Menzies (Essendon ) and Claire Ransom (Gold Coast). Current AFL coach Chris Fagan (Lions) was an assistant coach at North Hobart. Brendon Bolton (now a Director of Coaching at Collingwood) was playing coach of our 2003 premiership team.

Why do you think the NHFC has lasted until today? North Hobart Football Club endures because of its wonderful history, its loyal supporters and its capacity to adapt to changing times. It has excellent partnerships with its local community and junior clubs. Our women’s program is among the state’s strongest with our senior women’s team winning the 2022 Grand Final.

After some lean years on field, the club is back to its best. It has a young and dynamic board of directors, professional coaches and administrators, more than 100 active volunteers and the largest membership of any Tasmanian club. North Hobart Oval has long been consid­ered ‘the Home of Tasmanian Football’. It’s full of history and a great place to watch a game.

For more information about the Mighty Dees and the North Hobart Football Club, head to www.nhfc.net.au.

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May 2024

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