NWFL History

NWFL (NTFL) Tasmania History, North West Football League, Tasmania's Premier League

NWFL History

The History Of The Formation Of The
Northern Tasmania Football League - NTFL
(now North West Football League - NWFL)

The formation of the Northern Tasmanian Football League (now known as the North West Football League) can, in no small way, be attributed to the result of a combined match at Burnie's West Park in early 1985.

When the North-Western Football Union's combined team took on, and beat, the might of the southern based Tasmanian Football League, it heralded time for action - action from the southerners!

John "Bull Bars" Bennett was a leading TFL official at the time and couldn't stand the thought of playing second fiddle to a bunch of North-West Coasters beating them at their own game.

Within two years, Tasmania had a new Statewide league - but it came at a cost.

Two teams (Devonport and Cooee) were invited to join from the NWFU and three teams - North Launceston, East Launceston and City South - were enticed from the Northern Tasmanian Football Association.

Cooee was forced to change its name to the Burnie Hawks, and East Launceston and City South merged to become known as South Launceston.

While the NWFU and the NTFA lost teams from its competitions, it was interesting to note that all six TFL teams made up the rest of the new Statewide league.

While all that was going on, NWFU and NTFA officials weren't going to sit back and watch their competitions being totally decimated... and so the NTFL was born.

The remaining seven NWFU and five NTFA clubs agreed to make one competition, with the old NWFU headquarters in Devonport becoming the new base for the new league.

Former Ulverstone and NWFU secretary, Neil Rawson was the inaugural NTFL president, while Don Younger, who was once a City South (NTFA) official and the then NWFU General Manager assumed that role with the NTFL.

Each of the 12 clubs had equal voting rights, while a further four independent directors also oversaw the league operations. But the NTFL hasn't enjoyed plain sailing in its 15 years of operations. Longford left after one season, George Town followed suit at the end of 1990 and the Burnie Tigers merged with the Burnie Hawks in 1993 to become the Burnie Dockers to play in the Statewide. The Launceston Blues/Raiders also tried their hand in the Statewide for four seasons in the mid-1990s, but returned after ever increasing costs.

Not long after, South Launceston also jumped ship from the Statewide and approached the NTFL looking for a new home.

South Burnie was wooed out of the Darwin Association for the 1997-98 seasons but realised the task was too tough in the NTFL and soon returned to the country.

Scottsdale had been a power-house of the NTFL for many seasons, but by the end of 1999, was also caught in financial trouble and returned to a regionalised competition.

When the Statewide League eventually collapsed at the end of the 2000 season, the NTFL found three new players wanting to "come home" - Burnie Dockers, Northern Bombers and Devonport.