Rosebery, Tasmania

Photo by Bill Walker

The beautiful Rosebery ground, on Tasmania’s west coast, is home to Rosebery-Toorak.

‘The ground’s right smack in the middle of a rainforest,’ said Bill Walker.

The Hawks were formed in 1987, through the merger of a mining town clubs Toorak (Tigers) and Rosebery (Saints).

The Hawks initially played in the Western Tasmanian Football Association before joining the North Western Football Association in 1990. They won back-to-back flags in 1998-99. (From the late 1960s to the early 1980s Rosebery and Toorak each played in several grand finals in the old WTFA, including a few against each other.)

This year the Hawks just missed out on finals action, finishing seventh (on percentage) in the nine-team NWFA competition.

In the 2003 book Beyond the Big Sticks, journalist and football historian Paul Daffey noted:  ‘Visitors to the Rosebery oval in western Tasmania once thought the ground was built on a sewage farm. Pipes beneath the oval drained water into the Stitt River, which runs behind the ground. This river was the main outlet for the town sewage. Sometimes the river flooded, and the water, bearing sewage, was pushed along the pipes before settling beneath the oval. The term ‘foul conditions’ had strong resonance at Rosebery. Opposition players would walk off after the final siren and discard their shorts in the river.

‘The problem was averted when sewage was sent into waste dams, but this had little effect on the condition of the oval during the 2002 season…

‘Rosebery residents live in the shadow of Mt Reid, the wettest place in Tasmania, and expect a life of moisture. But the precipitation of 2002 struck them as excessive…

‘At the height of the 2002 football season, rain fell almost every day. Players sank to their shins in mud and umpires battled to find a spot on which to restart play.’ (Beyond the Big Sticks, Paul Daffey and Ian Kenins, Lothian Books, 2003.)

A rare dry day. Photo by Bill Walker

Bill Walker is a regular contributor to The Footy Almanac’s website and annual book Under the pseudonym of Phantom). He claims he was ‘cruelly overlooked’ by VFL scouts when they took Brent Croswell from his Launceston school. Bill went on to play in three premierships with Old Scotch B-grade in the early 1980s.