It is feared one of Tasmania’s former football teams is dangerously close to failing to field a team, with sporting greats comparing the situation to a canary in a coal mine for other clubs.
Most important points:
- Glenorchy, a team that once sat atop the state’s football pyramid, struggles to field a team
- There are changing demographics and trends facing the team with many potential players looking for more lower level social games
- Former team greats say Glenorhcy’s fate should be a warning to other clubs
Known as the former home of Australian reigning greats Peter Hudson and Roy Cazaly, the Glenorchy Magpies have struggled for over 12 months to attract players to the club, but ahead of this year’s Tasmanian State League season the situation has taken a turn for the worse .
At least one recent training session saw just 12 dedicated players on the court, sparking fears for the future of the club, which has 17 premierships and has been a traditional powerhouse of Tasmanian football.
But Tim Woodham, who will contest the club’s presidency at the upcoming annual general meeting, believes the tide will turn in the coming weeks.
“I don’t want to go into a recession because I believe you’re not coming back, but we need to find some players quickly,” he said.
“We don’t have any quick fixes at the moment, and it may take us a while to turn things around, but one day Glenorchy will be back as a powerful club.”
Interim president Scott Donaghy told ABC Radio Hobart on Tuesday that while the numbers were low, the situation at the Magpies was exaggerated and he expected a steady return of players to the club in the coming weeks.
“We have told AFL Tas that we will park a team. As far as we are concerned, we will park a team, and hopefully a second team,” he said.
Things are already starting to change, with about 30 players attending a pre-season run at Risdon Brook Dam this morning.
The club has also recruited sprinter Jack Hale as a high-performance coach.
But answers are being sought as to how the famous club declined so rapidly.
Glenorchy a ‘warning sign’ for other clubs
Glenorchy, who went winless at senior level last year and was forced to forfeit two games in the second tier development league, is a canary in the coal mine, according to former greats.
“There are some warning signs for me. If it happens at Glenorchy, it will happen to someone else,” said Hawthorn premiership player Rodney Eade, who was recruited from Glenorchy in 1975.
“It would send a warning across the bow if such a club went into recess, wherever the rest of the clubs are, and what could happen.”
Eade believes a range of factors, both internal and external, contributed to Glenorchy’s predicament.
“Obviously Glenorchy has to take the blame, there’s a bit of blame there I’m told, so they’ve obviously done some things wrong,” he said.
“It probably indicates things they’ve done wrong developmentally and why players don’t want to play there, but probably also the predicament of footy in Tasmania.”
“Were they going to schools? Were they promoting? Were they making it a place for players who want to be involved?”
Players opting for lower tier, more sociable clubs
News of the Magpies’ precarious position is particularly troubling to entrenched Tasmanian football followers, who have known for decades that Glenorchy sits atop the state’s football pyramid.
Last year there were warning signs after a massive exodus of senior players from the club in 2019 and 2020 and the failure to replace them.
Off-field unrest exacerbated the situation, but there are also broader reasons for the Magpies’ struggles, according to those at the club, namely an aversion to State League football among young men in the area who largely choose to play the game on to play low. lower, more social level.
“Societies are changing and young people’s attitudes are changing, and they can’t get a game or they’re on the margins, they’re going to play somewhere else for more money at a lower level. And that’s not just happening at Glenorchy, that’s other clubs. ” too,” said Eade.
While neighboring clubs such as St Virgils and Dominic Old Scholars, who play in the Old Scholars Football Association, report healthy numbers, Glenorchy’s junior club is feeling the effects of the changing demographics of the Northern Suburbs.
Over the past five years, the number of people born abroad has increased by 6 percent.
“We have a lot of Africans and immigrants in the community. We need to get them interested in the football club. Not just play, but bring their families in and welcome them to the football club. It’s a changing world,” said Woodham.
AFL Tasmania boss Damian Gill said the governing body “continues to support” Glenorchy and hopes the club can field at least one team this year, in both the senior and development leagues.
“We have to keep trying. We have to keep trying to find players who want to play for Glenorchy in 2023. There is a lot to like about Glenorchy,” he said.
“My message remains what it was last year. If you are a Glenorchy person or have any connection to the club, now is the time to get involved.”
Rodney Eade doesn’t believe an AFL team in Tasmania will be a panacea, but does believe the formation of a club will provide an opportunity for a great reset of the local football landscape.
“I think we should follow the model of Western and South Australia and have our own Tassie footy committee. We need to make the best of what’s best for Tasmanian footy, not just an AFL team,” said he.
“I feel there may not have been enough money from the AFL for Tasmanian football in the last 15 or 20 years, like in New South Wales and Queensland, and the hens have come home to roost.”