1. Bellerive Oval; 2. Ulverstone Recreation Ground; 3. York Park, Launceston
Green, red and black
A precedent for Tasmanian representative sides engaging in competition against mainland club teams was established as long ago as 1974 when a combined squad drawn from the premier clubs of the TFL, NTFA and NWFU was sent to the Australian club championships in Adelaide. On that occasion, owing largely to the hurried nature of the enterprise and the formidable strength of the opposition - Richmond and Glenelg - the team’s performances were ignominious in the extreme, and subsequent forays by Tasmanian sides into various NFL and VFL-organised competitions over the course of the ensuing decade or so were scarcely any more memorable.
Given Tasmania’s indisputable status, along with Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, as one of Australian football’s four ‘crown jewels’, the club that was formed in 2001 to carry the state banner into the recently re-constituted Victorian Football League competition faced both an enormous challenge and an unenviable responsibility. Unlike the representative teams of the 1970s and 1980s, however, the Tassie Devils at least enjoyed the benefits of careful planning, and although early results were not promising, under the aegis of former Hobart, Fitzroy, North Melbourne and Northern Bombers star Matthew Armstrong, progress has been steady. In 2003, the Devils reached the finals for the first time, an achievement that was repeated in both 2004 and 2005. More to the point, perhaps, a genuine club spirit could be seen to be emerging. It is this perhaps more than anything that will stand the fledgling club in good stead as it seeks to do justice to the rich traditions of Tasmanian football over the coming years.
At the end of the 2005 season the Devils entered into a restricted alliance agreement with AFL club the Kangaroos. Under the terms of the agreement, a maximum of six Kangaroos players would be eligible to represent Tasmania in the VFL each week. The 2006 season proved to be somewhat disappointing, however, as the Devils managed just 7 wins from 18 games to finish 2 wins behind eighth placed Coburg. This was a prelude to a quite alarming fall from grace in 2007 which saw the Devils plummet to last place with just a couple of victories from their 18 home and away matches.
From 2008, the Devils will no longer be aligned with the Kangaroos, and will seek to foster closer ties with Hawthorn, which plays several of its home matches each year in Launceston. Moreover, a Centre of Excellence for the state’s best young footballers is to be established at Bellerive.
In the short term, it is unlikely that either of these developments will have much discernible impact, but over the longer haul both are seen as vital to the ongoing health and success of the island’s most popular sport.