Football’s lost years in Tasmania
The magnitude of what the AFL lost when it turned its back on Tasmania some two decades ago was not lost on anyone among the 500 who attended Wednesday night's celebration of Tasmanian Football.
In fact anyone lucky enough to move from Lou Richards' state funeral earlier in the day to the unique Tasmanian football function at the other end of town ended their day emotionally drenched not so much with sadness but melancholy – nostalgia for a football time that somehow disappeared from within our grasp when we weren't concentrating.
Chris Fagan, the Queenstown boy who became a hall of famer in his home state and now Brisbane Lions coach, captured the so-called "elephant in the room" when he declared there was a "higher purpose" facing head office. That higher purpose said Fagan was not about marketing or economics.
"I'm talking about heritage and culture and legacy," said Fagan, a panellist at the function alongside fellow Tasmanians Rodney Eade and Brendon Bolton. "The AFL won't be truly complete until there is a Tasmanian team. They [the AFL] would do a magnificent thing if they were to have a Tasmanian team." Peter Hudson presented the narrative, Alastair Lynch the interviews which featured Nick Riewoldt and his equally passionate Tasmanian cousin Jack, a keynote speech by Matthew Richardson, who lovingly described a football pathway journeying along north-west Tasmania that he fears is no longer available to children from his home state.