Tassie footy – Uni of Tasmania v Richmond: Rainbow Warriors

Rainbow Warriors


They say at the end of every rainbow there is a pot of gold.

And they say it’s a long road with no turning.


Well at North Hobart Oval last Saturday the Old Scholars Football Association held their grand final day. The Old Scholars are the precursor of the Tasmanian Amateurs Footy Association and their ‘day’ has always proven to be a celebration on the Tassie football calendar. They provide Hobart locals with real homegrown suburban footy, something sadly lacking in the wall-to-wall hype that engulfs us from the AFL these days.


This year it came down to University (The Rainbows) and Richmond (Blues). Both clubs and the league as a whole are very well run. The clubs are driven by strong El Presidentes: John ‘Ox’ Conway at Richmond while Mathew ‘Noodles’ Martin spearheads The Rainbows.


University Football Club take The Rainbows tag from their tri-colour guernseys of red, yellow and black. They were attempting to win their first senior grade flag since 1993. They had been there since but that well-trodden road had brought no joy. This year they were first into the final but were pitted against the might of Richmond Football club, last season’s premiers. In fact the same two clubs featured in both seniors and reserves.


First up at 11.30 am the Uni reserves got away to a flyer and led by 4 goals at the first change and were never really challenged. Come siren time they cruised to 57-point victory over the Richmond boys.


Final Scores Uni 15.13-103 def Richmond 6.10-46.

BOG Bill Trethewie medal: Sam Chivers.


The ‘Wildman from Borneo’ look alike Nick Whittle booted four for the victors, while Sam Chivers ‘returned from the football wilderness’ to carry off ‘the Trethewie’. Unlike most medals these days ‘Farmer’ Bill Trethewie is alive and well and was on hand to present the coveted award, before sprinting off and suiting up to be runner for his beloved Rainbows in the seniors. Trethewie is iconic at the club and holds the games record of 416, all reserves. Club after match tradition demanded that games record breakers scull a 20 ounce pot. Bill managed that on 130 occasions before he was forced into retirement. Seems he became too expensive.


A browse of the footy record suggests the Uni seniors are a talented lot. And if the pen sketches are anything to go by, it seemed they could all play. Terms like beautiful left foot kick, creative, natural leader, impressed the day he walked into the club, superstar midfielder, speedy wingman, super consistent, small elusive forward; the rant went on. I’m thinking how good are these blokes. I look for mercurial. Disappointment, but then I spy ‘damaging half back.’ That sent me back to my hey day with New Norfolk North Primary. I was crowned second best half back flanker by coach Trevor Latham. Mr. Latham addressed us kids with a rolley stuck to his bottom lip and smoke trickling up into his eyes. Those were the days; why aren’t these gospellers about now I ask? “Lung cancer and heart disease,” comes the snappy response from the police aka Mrs. Sharpen. The Uni lineup included two ex AFL Melbourne players in coach Ben Beams and Brad Green. The nearest either had previously been to a university was one had been a gardener there once. Right on 2pm the seniors are underway and it was a carbon copy of the reserves as the Rainbows jumped out and led by three goals at the quarter and 5 goals at the half.


As they headed to the sheds players from all association clubs descended onto the ground   for the time-honored, Daryl Sharpen (snr.) goal kicking competition. This year’s winner was Stephen ‘Deadeye’ Bourke with 4 goals 1 from 5 shots. It’s amazing what few ales in the wet area can do to a player’s goal kicking ability, for better or worse.


A lack lustre third stanza saw the Uni boys maintain their 5-goal lead. Could this be their day? Were they on the road to glory after 23 years of wilderness?


Two goals early in the last quarter to the Blues had sparked them out of their slumber. They rattled on 5 goals to none in a barnstorming finish. Late in proceedings I asked the timekeeper, “How long left?” and he replied, “2.35.” Then, a mad rush by Richmond as they drew within a point with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Then a point to the Rainbows and a mad scramble out on the wing, stacks on the mill, ball up, siren! Elation and despair entangled in a pile that would have made Sethbling proud.


The ground erupted, grown men burst into tears, women cradled babes, as if there was a second coming, the Rainbows had prevailed.


Final Scores Uni 13.13-91 def Richmond 13-11-89.

BOG John Kenny medal: Jarrod ‘JC’ Collis


Like the Trethewie, John Kenny was on hand to present. There should be more of that.


Then the memories. What about last time? Peter ‘Sos’ Kelly had flashbacks. He ‘did his knee’ in `93 and was immobilised. Confined to the dugout for the latter part of the game, only to be completely forgotten and left stranded as the players celebrated and headed off the ground.


This year celebrations journeyed well into the night. Reports are that in the wee small hours a gathering of over a hundred led by tribal elder John Kenny formed a circle on the club oval for some form of ritual, akin to a séance. Secret Rainbow’s business.


There was no pot of gold, but who cared, the Rainbow Warrior’s cup runneth over.


Daryl Sharpen (Jnr.)

21 Sept 2016


  1. I was there, what a finish! I could have sworn the last quarter had a another minute in it at least.

  2. Would love to know the story of the goal kicking competition (naming and tradition), Daryl.

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