1879 as Cornwall; changed name to City 1880; changed name to City-South 1957; merged with East Launceston 1986
Youngtown Memorial Oval
NTFA 1879-88 & 1899-1985
Red and white
224 by Geoff Long
The City Football Club of Launceston was a major stalwart of the northern Tasmanian football scene for many years, and boasted a large number of champion players, including all time greats in the shape of Laurie Nash and Roy Cazaly. Originally formed in 1879, when it was known as Cornwall, the club changed its name to City the following year and in 1883 it broke through for its first NTFA premiership. By the turn of the century it had added half a dozen more.
During the pre-World War One period the NTFA was a three team competition in which success was fairly evenly distributed, with City and North Launceston both claiming six premierships and Launceston three. The same three clubs continued to dominate the competition during the inter war years, even after Longford was admitted in 1926. City was a perennial grand finalist during the 1920s, winning four flags from seven attempts. In 1928 it became the first northern club to claim the official state premiership after it downed North Hobart by 32 points at York Park, Launceston.1 City boasted many fine players during this era, including Len Lewis, Len Keogh and, as the 1930s dawned, Jock Connell plus the aforementioned Laurie Nash and Roy Cazaly. City’s 1930 premiership side, coached by Cazaly, and with Nash starring at centre half back, was one of the finest in the club’s history. In the grand final of that year it annihilated Launceston by 51 points, 15.19 (109) to 8.10 (58), and was even more impressive in downing Lefroy by 58 points to claim its second state flag. City won the ‘double’ again two years later in what proved to be Laurie Nash’s last season with the club.
During the 1930s Tasmanian clubs were sometimes able to offer higher match payments than their mainland counterparts and this led to a number of high profile interstaters being lured to the Apple Isle. One of the most noteworthy of these was 1932 Magarey Medallist Stanley ‘Max’ Pontifex who joined City as captain-coach from West Torrens in 1936. He stayed three years, winning the 1938 Tasman Shield Trophy as well as a club best and fairest award.
The NTFA became a six club competition in 1948 with the admission of Scottsdale and Cornwall (later to become City’s eventual merger partner, East Launceston). City enjoyed a concerted run of success in the 1950s with seven straight grand final appearances between 1950 and 1956 yielding four premierships. A 9.16 (70) to 6.10 (46) defeat of Hobart clinched the 1954 state flag. Reg Kenyon, ‘Bill’ Linger, Geoff Long, ‘Bill’ Spearman, Brian Hegarty, Verdun Howell and Ted Mackey were some of the many talented players to front up for the Redlegs during this period.
After changing its name to City-South in 1957 the club next enjoyed premiership success two years later thanks tor a 13.10 (88) to 9.13 (67) grand final defeat of Longford. A 5 point win over North Launceston the following season clinched what in later years would come to be termed ‘back to back’ honours, and City-South then went on to annex a fifth state title thanks to a 3 goal victory over Burnie.
The remainder of the 1960s brought three further grand final appearances, two of which were successful. In 1966 the club claimed the ‘double’ again after it overcame Hobart by 8 points in a bruising state grand final.
In 1972 City-South experienced one of the most memorable season’s in the club’s history. The NTFA grand final at York Park, watched by 6,894 spectators, pitted the Redlegs against Launceston and, after a closely fought opening term, City-South overwhelmed their opponents with 9 goals to 1 over the remaining 3 quarters of the match to win easily by 47 points. The following week, once again at York Park, the state grand final took place between the Redlegs and NWFU premiers Latrobe, captain-coached by Darrel Baldock. In the previous week’s state preliminary final Latrobe had convincingly accounted for TFL premier Sandy Bay, 12.14 (86) to 4.8 (32), and for much of the grand final they appeared to hold the upper hand. At three quarter time Latrobe led by 5 points, 8.12 (60) to 8.7 (55), only for City-South, with most of the crowd of 10,551 roaring them on, to unleash a dazzling final quarter display which yielded 6.7 to 0.2 and a resounding 6 goal win.
Following this triumph City-South had the honour of being Tasmania’s first ever representatives in the end of season club championship of Australia series which was held in Adelaide. Despite losing both their games, to eventual champions North Adelaide, and East Perth, the Redlegs performed creditably. Two years later, however, it was a vastly different story, as City-South, having overcome Scottsdale in a low scoring NTFA grand final, provided a third of the players who went to the championships in Adelaide as part of a composite Tasmanian squad (the other two thirds of the squad coming from TFL premiers North Hobart, and NWFU premiers Burnie). On this occasion the Tasmanian entrants were blown away in humiliating fashion by eventual champions Richmond, and East Fremantle, results which helped sound the death knell of the club championship concept.
The 1974 premiership would prove to be City-South’s last, with the club contesting just one further grand final (a 24 point loss to North Launceston in 1980) prior to the merger with East Launceston in 1986.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications