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The Rossarden Red Legs dominated the FDFA competition in the 1960s, five of which from 1962 to 1965 were consecutive.

 

 

 

 

 


FDFA was always competitive in representative games. Above is a side from the 1950s

 

Aussie Rules

Fingal District Football Association
1884 - 1992

 

Although Fingal is the only clubs still competing in 2009, Australian Rules football has been, by far, the most dominant sport in the Fingal Valley.
Its history can be traced back to the 1880s when Mathinna was a thriving gold mining town and had three teams who played each other on a regular basis. Apparently, the team who won the most games for the year was the ultimate season winner.
A game between Fingal and St Marys was recorded in 1884; however, it seems a regular competition did not get underway until the railway though the valley was completed in 1886. With a more reliable and faster transport in the valley, players and supporters were able to travel to the games on a special train and Avoca joined in, making it a three way competition, as well.
The “Examiner” reported on Saturday August the 9th 1890 that South Esk, a Launceston team, had travelled to St Marys by train to play a game of football. The game was played in good spirits with South Esk coming out winners by seven points.
Records prior to World War One are sparse and only two Premierships are mentioned. They were in 1891 and 1907, both of which were won by Avoca. What happened in the other years is unclear.
The competition went into recess during World War One, although an odd game or two must have been played because the “Weekly Courier” of August 2nd 1917 reported St Marys travelling to Fingal for a game, with Fingal coming out winners.
The next game featured in the “Weekly Courier” was between St Marys and St Helens. The paper reported that on the 1st August 1917 a team from St Marys travelled to St Helens for a game of football, however, the motor bus broke down on the way and they did not arrive at their destination until 4.30 pm. As a consequence, the game was shortened to four ten minute quarters. In spite of the disadvantage the game was an exciting contest and ended with St Marys winning by just one point.
By 1922 the Fingal District Football Association was formed with St Marys, Rovers (Cornwall-Mt Nicholas), Fingal, Avoca and Mathinna.
The Rovers folded during a recess due to World War Two, but once the competition recommence in 1945, St Helens, Rossarden and Swansea joined to make the FDFA one of the strongest country football associations in Tasmania.
By the 1960s, however, Mathinna was struggling to field sides due to a fall in population in the area and finally folded in 1968. This made the way for Campbell Town to leave the Midlands Association and join the FDFA.
By this time Rossarden had emerged as the dominant side in the competition and with such players as the Lowe and Hawkins Brothers, Gus O’Boyle, Colin Cruikshank, Garry Tapp and coach Bob Miller, they were able to win seven premierships between1956 and 1967, five of which from 1961 to 1965 were consecutive.
According to the Tasmanian Sporting Almanac of 2001 Fingal was the most successful club in the recorded history of the FDFA with 14 Premierships. Avoca is next with 12, followed by St Marys 11, St Helens and Rossarden 7, Campbell Town 6, Swansea 3 and Rovers 1. Mathinna, it seems, were unsuccessful, although they did play off in two: 1931 and 1965. Locals at Mathinna claim they won two reserves Premierships, but 1965 is the only one recorded.
The Rovers played a draw with Avoca in 1936, but refused to replay the game the next week and as a result Avoca was awarded the Premiership cup.
The records of 1937 are interesting where it shows St Marys forfeited the Grand Final to Avoca. One can only but wonder why you would forfeit a Grand Final.
These figures appear accurate from 1945 onwards, however, there are a lot of years not recorded from 1884 to 1914 and again 1932 and 1933 are missing.
In the latter years of the FDFA, under the guidance of long time secretary Graham McGee of Campbell Town, the association was run with the professionalism of any Tasmanian football association.
The football was of a high standard and many players like: Bob Bye, Scott Marshall, John Smith, Jack Clements, Les Newman, John Thurley, Steven Salter, Colin Cruickshank, Gus O’Boyle, John and Patrick Cusick, Rob Lowe, Max Davison, Paul Ellis, Norm Barnes and Craig Woods to name a few, could walk into any Tasmanian team.
The last Premiership of the FDFA was played at St Marys in 1992 between St Marys and St Helens with St Helens coming out convincing winners. The next year, however, Campbell Town decided to enter the Northern Tasmanian Football Association division three competition which left only four teams in the FDFA: St Marys, Fingal, St Helens and Swansea.
A four team competition was deemed unviable and Swansea decided to go south, while St Helens went into the North East Association. St Marys and Fingal were forced to join Campbell Town in the NTFA.
Fingal and St Marys struggled in the first years of the NTFA and tried an amalgamation in 1994, calling themselves the Valley Saints. But both towns were too proud of their own individuality and the venture only lasted the one year, with the clubs taking on their own identity again.
St Marys was competitive in the NTFA for a few years, but increasing administration costs saw them fold in 2002. Fingal, on the other hand, have continued on and developed into one of the leading teams in the NTFA division three competition.
But for many in the Fingal Valley, football has never been the same since the old Fingal District Football Association folded in 1992.

Jim Haas

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