Lethal Leigh’s reform: How twelve ancient Uni of Hobart footballers have influenced the direction of the AFL

I had lunch with a party of a dozen touring Tasmanians on Friday – old footy mates. It was a cracker.

But I had no idea blokes like Baldy and Brain and Bill were so influential.

It was a Footy Almanac Lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms. We actually didn’t have a lunch scheduled for that afternoon but when Bill rang up and said some Uni of Hobart footballers were on tour and looking for a venue I thought we could build a lunch around them.

We gave it a theme: A Celebration of the Tasmanian Nation Lunch, or something like that. Of course that great Tasmanian, Percy Jones was there, because it’s his pub these days. Neil Kearney, a fine story-teller, also said a few words. Baldy gave us a call of Taj Rossi winning some race in 1973 – perhaps the Ascot Vale Stakes. My guess he first did it in the rooms one afternoon in 1974 and got a laugh and he’s done it every time the boys have gathered since.

It was a bonzer afternoon in a fine venue which ended with the singing of the Carlton Football Club song, a reading of the team sheet of the Tasmanian Team of the Century, and a commitment that everyone there would, from that moment on, work determinedly and tirelessly to get an AFL team in Tassie. There was guttural support – in the style of the breaking from a three quarter time huddle – for the proposition.

Well, they really are an influential lot. Someone must have pulled out the Samsung and rung Lethal Leigh Matthews. Because Leigh has come out with the perfect plan for these boys. Leigh wants one team in Queensland.

Genius! It seems to me that this is unbridled support for his old mates Peter Hudson and Rodney Eade. One team in Queensland means one team in Tasmania.

He can support the push for a team in Tasmania even though he is a Hawthorn man and hawthorn has colonised the Apple Isle. He can support the push because as Dermott Brereton has noted, “Leigh Matthews has no natural predator.” (Magnificently poetic from Dermie.) That means Leigh can say whatever he likes.

And if Leigh says one team in Queensland – his – that’s it.

So, should the Suns be relocated to Swansea, Stanley or Strahan? The Stanley Suns. Or should they just be the Bridport Suns so that travellers can double up with a game of footy and a game of golf at Barnbougle. Or should they have a different name altogether.

Rocket can bring his boys home.

I am impressed with the resolve of last Friday’s lunch and the intellect, capacity and reach of those in attendance.

It’s typical of that North Fitzroy Arms gathering – which happens on every odd-dated Friday (and a few more Fridays as well).

This week (May 13) it’s Mal Brown. One shudders to think what Mal and the lunchers will decide to change. Western Australia to secede?

To book ring the pub on 94861501.


Neil Kerney with Percy Jones at the Tasmanian Nation lunch last Friday. (Tasmanian Team of the Century image on the wall).

Neil Kearney with Percy Jones at the Tasmanian Nation lunch last Friday. (Tasmanian Team of the Century image on the wall).


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. It was once suggested that Richmond move to tassie and become the Tassie tigers or if fhe Afl went global to Sri Lanka but that may not work for the tiger nickname

    So why not just have a real tassie called the tassie Devils wearing green rose and gold

    Like the Green Bay packers who play in Milwaukee and Green Bay and all over Wisconsin for pre season the tassie Devils could play Hobart and Launceston and Devonport etc for nab cup

  2. It was a cracking afternoon, and early evening, of conversation. The race call, Neil Kearney, the Carlton song, and as my travel companions have also attested, sitting at a front bar table with Perce as he eased his languid way through his dinner steak.

    Loved it.

  3. Chris Hayward says

    Agreed Michael. My first footy almanac luncheon and what an introduction…I’m hooked. The food, the stories, the conversation and fellowship. Now…what to write?

  4. E.regnans says

    Love it.

    Perc’s “I played that day” as JTH’s reading commenced of the fabled crowd-pulled-the-goalposts-out-of-the-ground Wynyard v Nth Hobart game a highlight.
    Love it.

  5. Shane Johnson says

    Chaps……surely Perce wasn’t serious when he said he played in 67 at West Park because he didnt he was at Carlton then…LOL and the Tassie colours are Myrtle, Rose and Primrose Tim…..

  6. Shane, Perc was actually talking about a game both he and a very young Peter Hudson played in. Might have been North Hobart v New Norfolk I think.

  7. ER, Perc was actually talking about the other game that was mentioned that day.

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