The Tasmanian Journey of Dan Minogue: The Forgotten Chapter of a Magnificent Football Legacy

Minogue 1

The legacy that Dan Minogue left within the game of Australian rules was quite remarkable. As a player he is said to have been one of the most courageous of his time, playing out the 1911 grand final for Collingwood with a broken collar bone. Well respected as captain, the love that magpies supporters showed the man would last until 1916 when he would join the AIF in Europe during WWI. Here, he captain-coached the third division team that played at London’s famous Queens Park. Upon return to Australia, a 1919 clearance request shocked most at Collingwood and angered the rest. Soon, a fan favourite would turn into a much maligned figure. Ben Collins has suggested that his photo was removed from the wall of fame at the club and certain monetary entitlements were not paid out. Inner-city rivals Richmond would soon acquire the services of Minogue (from 1920-25) and immediate team success followed. As captain-coach, he would lead the Tigers to their first two VFL premierships in 1920/21. After six seasons he left to coach Hawthorn (1926-27), playing one solitary game in the process. In all, his playing career spanned fifteen years including those spent serving overseas. Following his stint at Hawthorn, he would coach fellow VFL teams Carlton (1929-34), St. Kilda (1935-37) and Fitzroy (1940-42). John Devaney shows that his grand total of games was 448, 180 as a player which heralded 77 goals and 268 as non playing coach. A truly remarkable career for one of the game’s most controversial figures in the interwar era.


Yet there are gaps in his VFL career, most notably during his years of service. However, in 1928, between stints with Hawthorn and Carlton, Minogue continued to be the senior coach of a football club. Rather than continue in Victoria, he accepted a position in Tasmania as non playing coach of New Town, the club that formed the basis of modern day powerhouse Glenorchy. At the time, he arrived with the reputation as one of the best football minds in the country. Reporting his appointment, Launceston’s Daily Telegraph quoted a Melbourne observer that had spoken so highly of Minogue’s knowledge and leadership. The article reads:

‘So observant has he been during his connection with the game that he has picked up points which many players would miss or attach no importance to. His qualities are second to none, as far as a captain is concerned, for Minogue is a man who plays well and hard, and will back up his statements in the dressing room by his actions on the field.’[1]


It was hoped that his appointment would lead to the young New Town squad being able to learn from such an astute judge of the game. The New Town club board was not so much concerned with further on field prowess, an area they believed they were more than abundant in. However, if he were to suit up, the Burnie Advocate predicted he would be a valuable asset in any position, or merely for his ‘generalship’ [2]on the field. Leading up to the season, there was a certain hype around the club with pundits predicting New Town would be well poised to show improvements from the previous season’s modest performances. Minogue was just a handful of recruits to the club. Cole and Franklin had made the switch from Devonport, while H. O. Smith, formerly of Lefroy and T. Viney from North Launceston Juniors were just some of the impressive young recruits. Good practice form had been encouraging and the new coach had been working tirelessly to turn out a winning team that season. Despite the early hard work, New Town did not finish the season as strongly as hoped.


On field, the club did not rise to great team success as had been hoped, but even after seventeen years in the game Minogue still achieved great feats of individual play. In a game late in the season against Lefroy at Hobart’s TCA ground, he would play a pivotal role in ensuring that New Town would win by setting up excellent passages of play for team mates Smith and Pearce to kick goals in quick succession, leading to a 9 point win over their bottom placed rivals[3]. With the ever strong North Hobart would finish off as premiers for the 1928 Tasmanian Australian National Football League, New Town were left to take on Cananore for the moral rights to the runner up position. Despite winning less games, Cananore had finished ahead of New Town on points with the last roster game between the two finishing in a draw. It was because of such a close finish on the table that a rivalry developed between the two, leading to this intense match that was played without premiership points at stake[4]. The match had occurred on a rain soaked Hobart Saturday. Playing in the forward pocket, Minogue kicked a goal from a scrimmage in the last quarter after previously setting up chances for others to score and even hitting the post from a hurried shot off the ground in the first quarter. These efforts were to no avail, Cananore took the game by five points after a late goal by Hill put them in front[5].


New Town had only heralded seven wins. A failed season without question. Nonetheless, the knowledge of the game imparted on his youthful players led to individual success for the club. The Southern Medal for the best and fairest player in the league was won by George Cole, the young half back from Devonport that had developed into a fine centreman. He would go on to become a fine soldier and a controversial member of the Australian Parliament as a Senator heavily involved in the split of the Australian Labor Party in 1955. During his years as a player, Cole played for a number of representative teams, namely the South side in 1929 and the 1930 Tasmanian National carnival team. He also became a playing coach, his highest achievement coming in 1933 when he led Huonville to its first ever premiership. Reflecting on his football career in 1951, the Burnie Advocate reported after an interview with Cole that ‘he owes a lot to New Town’s coach Dan Minogue whom he considers was the best coach in Australia’[6].

Understandably so, the VFL career of Dan Minogue makes up the grand narrative of such a colourful figure. Yet the one year he had in Tasmania should be considered as part of the image. His short stint proved to have a profound impact on football in the state. Glimpses of great play by a man of such skill and poise provided onlookers with a spectacle to marvel at. His many years of experience gave the New Town football club hope for success, while his great and detailed knowledge of the game was passed on to young, aspiring stars such as George Cole to hold them in good stead for future years.

[1] Launceston Daily Telegraph – 15 Nov 1927, p. 5.

[2] Burnie Advocate – 28 Nov 1927, p. 3.

[3] The Mercury – 28 August 1928, p. 12.

[4] The Mercury – 17 September 1928, p. 12.

[5] See above.

[6] Burnie Advocate – 17 Feb 1951, p. 11.

About Liahm O'Brien

Tasmanian Tiger - Born into the Northey era, blinded by the Wallace era, healed by the Hardwick era - Twitter: @LiahmO_Writing


  1. Very interesting story Liahm. Thanks for sharing it on the Almanac.

  2. Fantastic, timely piece

    Go Tiges

  3. Love it Liahm.

    I’m learning of much football culture cross-over between Tasmania and Victoria.
    e.g. Albert Collier of Collingwood, played pivotal roles in the VFL 1927, 28, 29, 30 premierships (B&F 1929, Brownlow 1929),
    1931-32 seasons with Cananore Football Club, Tasmanian State League (based at the time in West Hobart), captain/ coach for the TSL 1931 premiership. (Leitch Medal 1931; Tassie Brownlow equivalent of the time),
    Collingwood VFL 1935, 36 premierships (B&F in 1934-35).

    I dug up a great old fossil at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office yesterday. More to come on that…

    go pies

  4. Thanks for the feedback guys, very appreciative!

    Go Tiges.

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