The Winfield Statewide Cup was an Australian rules football tournament held in Tasmania, Australia between the top twenty-one (21) major football clubs across Tasmania from the three major footballing bodies across the state (at the time), the TANFL, the NTFA and the NWFU.
The tournament was played in a five-round format held prior to the regular season proper, over a period of seven weeks between 29 March and 17 May 1980.
|Founded||1980 in Hobart|
|Participating clubs||Burnie Tigers|
East Devonport Swans
East Launceston Demons
New Norfolk Eagles
North Hobart Demons
North Launceston Robins
Penguin Two Blues
Sandy Bay Seagulls
|Stadiums||North Hobart Oval|
West Park Oval
Latrobe Rec. Ground
Penguin Sports Ground
Ulverstone Rec. Ground
Smithton Football Ground
Scottsdale Rec. Ground
|1980 Winfield Statewide Cup.|
|Premiers||Hobart 9.21 (75) v Clarence 7.4 (46)|
|Grand Final attendance||5,961 at North Hobart Oval|
|Total Round-Robin Series attendance||58,422 for 52 matches at 1,123 (Including 10 Double-headers)|
|Average Finals Series attendance||18,326 for 5 matches at 3,665 (Including 1 Double-header)|
|Total aggregate attendance||76,748 for 57 matches at 1,346 (Including 11 Double-headers)|
|Player of the Tournament||Graham Fox (Glenorchy)|
|Tournament Leading Goalkicker||Paul Courto (Hobart) - 35|
The Winfield Statewide Cup competition came to fruition after discussions had been continuing for several years, as far back as 1972, mostly from TANFL executives and leading players and coaches, in wanting to expand the TANFL into a statewide competition to try to improve the perceived ailing standard of football across the state in recent years and disappointing performances of Tasmanian teams at Interstate level, notably Tasmania's disastrous displays at the 1969 and 1972 Australian National Football Carnivals which was causing the state's football reputation much harm and placing in jeopardy Tasmania's hopes of gaining Division One status within the Australian National Football Congress (and the large increase in funding the sport would ultimately receive from the ANFC as a result of attaining that status), this coincided with a disappointing loss to Queensland at Ulverstone in early 1980.
The calls had grown stronger from within the TANFL after the classic 1975 State Premiership decider between Glenorchy and North Launceston (described by many old-timers as one of the best games of football ever seen in Hobart) and after the State Premiership was finally brought to an end in 1978 in favour of sending a Tasmanian team to play interstate, the TANFL, by then seeking all control of Australian Rules Football within Tasmania ordered all clubs from the NTFA and the NWFU to participate in the tournament alongside their TANFL counterparts.
Due to the perceived dogmatic approach by the TANFL in regard to its treatment of Northern & Coastal clubs, the final straw came when North Launceston had its home Semi Final replay against Clarence switched from York Park to North Hobart Oval by the TANFL in an effort to maximise the crowd attendance.
Despite the uproar from the North over the decision, a crowd of 4,758 attended (the York Park match attracted 2,070 the previous week) and the Robins lost in the dying seconds by 2-points.
The Hobart Football Club, who had finished last in the TANFL in 1978 and 1979, rose from mediocrity under new coach Paul Sproule and took out the Winfield Statewide Cup beating Clarence in the Grand Final by 29-points at North Hobart Oval on 17 May 1980 in a dour, defensive game.
On the same day, Glenorchy handed North Launceston a shock 77-point defeat at York Park in the playoff for third and fourth place.
Despite some very good football displayed, the Winfield Statewide Cup failed to capture the football public's attention which resulted in poor crowds and a financial loss for the League.
Cigarette company Winfield sponsored the tournament to the tune of A$37,500 with a view to increasing that to A$50,000 for the tournament the following year (which was ultimately not held).
In the aftermath of this tournament the TANFL planned to stage another Winfield Statewide Cup in 1981 with a view to formulating a full TFL Statewide League competition in 1982.
However, at a meeting of the three main bodies in Launceston in August 1980, the NTFA and NWFU voted against the proposal believing it not to be in the best interests of football in the North.
As a result, the Northern & Coastal clubs banded together in protest and formed the Greater Northern Football League (GNFL) in 1981 in order to disassociate themselves with the TANFL.
After its formation, GNFL president Brendon Lyons launched a scathing attack on TANFL president John Bennett, accusing him of hatching plans aimed at denigrating Northern football by attempting to take six clubs to the statewide competition and seeking to demote the remaining uninvited clubs to junior status.
The TANFL, as the sport's governing body in Tasmania responded by introducing new qualification entries for players named for state duties, ruling that all players must play in the TANFL to be included in the squad, effectively banning all players from northern leagues from participating in the Tasmanian representative teams.
On 10 June 1982, the TANFL executive met at TFL House in Hobart and decided to put an end to talk of a statewide competition vowing to go it alone meaning that the GNFL could finish and a return to three separate leagues could resume.
(Saturday, 29 March 1980)
(Saturday, 5 April & Monday, 7 April 1980)
(Saturday, 12 April 1980)
(Saturday, 19 April 1980)
(Friday, 25 April & Saturday, 26 April 1980)
(Saturday, 3 May 1980)
(Saturday, 3 May 1980)
Winner Group 4 v Winner Group 2
● Hobart: 3.2 (20) | 9.7 (61) | 15.10 (100) | 19.12 (126)
● Glenorchy: 9.3 (57) | 10.12 (72) | 12.13 (85) | 13.16 (94)
Attendance: 4,307 at North Hobart Oval (Double-Header)
(Saturday, 3 May 1980)
Winner Group 3 v Winner Group 1
● Nth Launceston: 2.4 (16) | 5.6 (36) | 12.11 (83) | 16.18 (114)
● Clarence: 7.6 (48) | 12.8 (80) | 15.10 (100) | 17.12 (114)
Attendance: 2,070 at York Park
(Saturday, 10 May 1980)
● Clarence: 1.8 (14) | 5.14 (44) | 11.15 (81) | 16.19 (115)
● Nth Launceston: 2.4 (16) | 5.7 (37) | 13.13 (91) | 16.17 (113)
Attendance: 4,758 at North Hobart Oval
(Saturday, 17 May 1980)
● Glenorchy: 3.6 (24) | 5.10 (40) | 13.17 (95) | 23.20 (158)
● Nth Launceston: 4.2 (26) | 9.6 (60) | 11.7 (73) | 12.12 (84)
Attendance: 1,230 at York Park.
(Saturday, 17 May 1980)
● Hobart: 1.5 (11) | 4.9 (33) | 8.13 (61) | 9.21 (75)
● Clarence: 2.2 (14) | 3.2 (20) | 6.3 (39) | 7.4 (46)
Attendance: 5,961 at North Hobart Oval
Source: All scores and statistics courtesy of the Hobart Mercury, Saturday Evening Mercury (SEM), Launceston Examiner and North West Advocate publications