Derby, Tasmania

Photos by Chris Rees, February 2008

Once a prosperous mining village, Derby is now a classified historic town. You’ll find it 103 km north east of Launceston on the banks of the Ringarooma River.

The grandstand and scoreboard are relics and, if they are still standing, should be heritage-listed.

Derby has had a few sporting teams over the years. A 1912 newspaper article promoting an end of season challenge match between Derby and Pioneer suggests Derby Football Club won a flag 99 years ago in the NEFA (North East Football Association?).

Derby also won flags in the North Eastern Football Union in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1957, and 1960. It played its last game in 1972, while the cricket club hung on until 2001, according Beyond the Big Sticks, an excellent book by photographer Ian Kenins and journalist Paul Daffey.

“The grandstand is a delight,” writes Daffey. “Besides offering the views towards the mountains, it features a bell suspended from the roof. Early in the twentieth century, members of the Krushka mining family used the bell to summon workers on their North View property for meals, and occasionally emergencies. After a while the family donated the bell to the football club. Timekeeper Alf Krushka rang it at the end of every quarter until he was too old to climb the steps into the timekeeper’s box.”

At one stage there was a Derby Football Association, where clubs vied for The Diggers Cup.

While it’s tempting to think the scoreboard numbers at Derby are ancient and were made from the town’s own tin a century ago, photographer Chris Rees notes: “The numbers are shop-bought and don’t look all that old in style.”

Chris describes himself as “a huge footy and cricket fan but also a graphic designer with a big interest in ‘vernacular typography’ – homemade numbers and letters.”

More photos by Chris Rees

The Derby ground, via Google Earth: by creating a street-view from the Google Earth image you’ll glimpse the Derby grandstand, the cricket pitch and grazing cattle. (You create a street-view by moving the orange figure – a cyberspace scoreboard attendant? – across the ground to the Tasman Highway.)

Thanks to John of The Holyboot Football Emporium for the reference to Beyond the Big Sticks. Alas, the book -published in 2003 – is now out of print.

6 comments

  1. Wonderful…looks like a grandstand in someones backyard. Rather haunting to think it’s been so long without use! Great bit on this stand/ground in the book ‘Beyond the Big Sticks’, a great book on country footy Australia wide. Lovely work again

  2. Went past here on a road trip in late Sept. Stopped to take a couple of photos, and Derek, a dairy farmer from across the road trundled over and filled me in about the history of the field, grandstand and the area in general. Y’know, “born in that red house there over the valley, moved over this side a few decades ago”. Tremendous stuff. He was telling me that they’ve got some money from the govt to renovate the grandstand sometime next year. (2013). There’s also a broken pipe uphill from it and the wing closest to the road now resembles a bit of a river with some serious erosion going on, so i dunno what they’re planning on doing about that.

    Came back the next day and took a few more from the top of mine cuttings behind the ground. Derek came roaring up the hill on his four wheeler and shared a little more about the area.

    I’ve got that book “Beyond the Big Sticks” too, you should be able to track it down somewhere, I picked it up in a Borders around the mid/late 00’s.

    Anyway superb site, Vin. And a great couple of photos, Chris. Good to see the Boot commenting here too, Aussie Rules has such a rich deep history that most people easily overlook in focusing on the AFL. You guys are doing a great job of preserving it.

  3. Leon, Thanks for your kind comments, and terrific extra info about the Derby ground. Good stuff. You’re welcome to send through any photos you may take of scoreboards and grounds: footy, cricket, bowls, tennis…Cheers. Vin.

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