The NWFL started 2017 looking for further consolidation and stability within its ranks after the re-introduction of Burnie and Devonport in 2015 and the introduction of an Under 12’s competition in 2105 however things were quickly turned on their head when Burnie advised the league that they would not be continuing in the NWFL.
With this notification only coming weeks before the start of the season and a roster already adopted, it gave us little time to reschedule and adjust to a seven team competition.
Thanks to a very hardworking and supportive group from Burnie the Burnie Junior Football club was established and participated in the junior roster with Under 12, 14, 16 and junior girls. The NWFL strongly believes that there should be a team from Burnie within the NWFL and the formation of a junior NWFL club from Burnie is a positive step in this direction.
Another big change for the 2017 season was the introduction of a player points system designed to provide a more even competition over time.
The NWFL Senior Competition saw the top five clear out and leave East Devonport and Devonport languishing at the bottom of the ladder. Devonport continued to struggle as they had since their re-introduction but did show some positive signs during the season. East Devonport struggled to improve on their 2016 season and had trouble getting their best side on the ground due to injuries. Wynyard finished the season 4 points clear of Ulverstone who had set the pace all season only to drop its last two games. Penguin was also hard hit with injuries but still finished a couple of games clear of Latrobe who just pipped Circular Head Giants for fourth place.
What followed was an interesting finals series with Wynyard losing two games in a row to go out in straight sets and Latrobe finding its form from previous seasons and winning through to the Grand Final against Ulverstone. Ulverstone were too strong on the day winning by 24 points. Congratulations to Penguin who pulled off a double by winning the Reserves and Under 18 premierships.
There was some movement in the coaching ranks with existing coaches Aaron Tuxworth (Smithton), Dale Perry (East Devonport) and Wade Anthony (Latrobe) returning for another season with Justin Rodman replaced by Jamie Hayward (Ulverstone) and Mark Lowe replaced by Troy Davies (Devonport). In an interesting move Aaron Tuxworth stood down late in the season to allow Matt Elliott to take the reins at the Circular Head Giants.
Representative football returned this season with the SFL bringing both Senior and Under 18 sides to Ulverstone on what turned out to be extremely wet day, but both NWFL teams showed their skill in the conditions to have very good wins. The other community competitions in Tasmania do not look at representative football in the same light as we do and that is evident in the results over time and the consistent complaints from them that they cannot get their best players to participate. It is a credit to the players and Clubs on the North West Coast as they believe this is an opportunity to represent your region and play and socialise with opposition players. Our thanks go to Dale Perry and Kent Jackson who worked together to coach the senior side and to Jamie Hayward for his work as coach of the Under 18’s side.
The NWFL has come under some criticism for the way the Junior Competition has been conducted and the strong desire to distance the Burnie and Devonport junior teams from the coastal TSL clubs. The people that have voiced their concern unfortunately are not aware of the whole picture. Junior football in Tasmania is not in crisis but there is evidence that the TSL aligned clubs are dominating Junior competitions and in doing so are possibly putting the future of many clubs and competitions at risk. No one likes to be consistently beaten by large amounts and if this continues young players will find another sport to participate in and could be lost entirely to football. Clubs and Competitions need good junior numbers coming through and everything should be done to encourage participation rather than discourage it.
Unfortunately the junior competition did not have a full complement of teams with some clubs finding it difficult to field teams in certain age groups. The NWFL and AFL Tas. are working with these clubs to assist with fielding teams in all age groups into the future. A Junior Girls competition was added this season with five clubs fielding teams.
The finals series was very competitive and exciting and an excellent crowd attended the grand finals at Girldestone Park. Devonport defeat Ulverstone to win the under 12 and Under 14 Premierships, Ulverstone defeated Wynyard to take out the Under 16’s title. Ulverstone also defeated Burnie to take out the inaugural Junior Girls Premiership.
The Mead Con Darrel Baldock Medal and Ambassador Quest function was again held at the Burnie Arts and Function Centre and proved to be a great success with around 230 people in attendance.
Invites were sent to the top-vote getters in the Mead Con Baldock Medal allowing them to be interviewed during the count.
The Mead Con Baldock Medal count provided an exciting call with winner Dylan Smith of Wynyard polling in the last round to win by 5 votes from last year’s winner Matt Elliott of the Circular Head Giants.
The Mead Con Ambassador quest was conducted a little differently this year with contestants asked to produce a short video of their achievements throughout the year. These videos were played as they were introduced to the audience and escorted to the stage.
Although all videos were very different they gave a clear understanding of what the contestants had achieved and how much they had enjoyed the experience.
Our thanks go to Giovana, Natalie, Vonette and Vicki for their work as judges. The selection of the Winner and Runner’s Up proved extremely difficult with close scoring across the panel.
Congratulations to all award winners, who have been listed elsewhere in this report.
Football is a team sport and the NWFL Board and Executive work exceptionally well as a team and my thanks go to them all for their assistance and co-operation throughout the year. While the executive has been settled for the last twelve months, several new members joined the Board as club delegates.
The Executive’s knowledge of the game and the competition is outstanding and I am proud to be able to work with them for the betterment of football.
The other very important member of our team is Executive Officer Vicki Slater who has continued to provide the Board, Executive and Clubs with tremendous support and successfully guide the Board and Executive through the season.
There are many others that assist the league during the season and their assistance is greatly appreciated. Special thanks go to our Co-Patrons Paddy Martin and Ian Wotherspoon who continue their great support of the league in different but important ways and also to Nigel Tapp our program editor.
The NWFL would like to express its appreciation to all our generous sponsors. We have progressed through 2017 without a naming rights and under age sponsors and are hopeful that all other sponsors (as listed on the inside cover) will continue in 2018 and we will be having discussion with them all to ensure that we are satisfying our end of the agreement. I have mentioned on numerous occasion throughout the year that our competition would not be possible without these sponsors. As a football family we should support those that support us, so if you have the opportunity do just that and let them know how important their support is to us.
We are intending on selling several smaller sponsorships next season from which our naming rights will be drawn. This means for as little as $3000.00 a sponsor may be able to have naming rights for the best regional football competition in Tasmania.
The NWUA has again been totally responsible for providing umpires for our competition and has provided very professional and reliable teams of umpires throughout the year. Matthew Clarke and Peter Douce undertook the coaching role this season and performed excellently and I am sure all umpires are appreciative of the time they have committed and the knowledge they have passed on. The NWFL, NWUA and AFL Tas. must work together to increase the number of umpires and provide an environment that allows everyone who wants to umpire an opportunity to do so. This is the responsibility of all parties and should not be left to any one or two to achieve.
The media support of the NWFL has been appreciated with all our major events and functions being extremely well reported. The weekly coverage of our competition is enjoyed by members of the public. Facebook has become another avenue for the League to pass on news, results and information on upcoming events. The interest shown on a weekly basis is amazing and this is another area that the league will be improving and giving our sponsors more exposure.
As usual the NWFL Tribunal handled all cases very professionally and we thank them for their continued support and commitment to the NWFL.
The NWFL Appeals Committee was not required this year but we appreciate their willingness to assist and we also thank them for their continued support and commitment to the League.
The Tasmanian Football Council and AFL Tas. are continuing to work together on the structure of football in Tasmania.
The TFC have a policy that the TSL should be a one team model and run similar to what is happening in our region but there are divided views on what is best for Tasmanian football going forward.
There was no TFC participation in Under 23 games in 2017 and the concept is under review as the lack of sponsorship makes it a very expensive exercise for the TFC and regional leagues.
As we move forward I ask for everyone’s assistance in working together to maintain the NWFL as the premier regional competition in Tasmania (both on and off the field).