'British Association Football' first came to Tasmania in 1898 when visiting navy and merchant seamen challenged locally stationed army units from Anglesea Barracks to games on the Domain, Hobart. No competitions were organised until 1900 when an Englishman, the Rev Fred Taylor, introduced a league format between the three teams of the day: Trinity (from the University of Tasmania), the Gunners (Anglesea Barracks) and Sandy Bay (army volunteers).

After a lull in the sport due to the South African (Boer) War, in 1910 JJB Honeysett re-introduced the game. A friend in Launceston, Norm Vincent, was also a keen player. The two friends can be credited with the famous North v South games which have been played annually ever since (except for wartime).

After the First World War, soccer once again started growing with European settlers playing their part. In 1923 Southern China (Hong Kong) became the first international side to tour the island. Tasmania possibly had its strongest team in this period, boasting three full-internationals. Tasmania beat China 21.

The game blossomed after the Second World War, when many displaced persons came from Europe to Tasmania, and 'soccer' was instrumental in helping the new migrants settle in. The 1950s and 1960s saw an unprecedented number take up the sport, and can be defined as its 'golden era'. The most successful clubs during this period were Caledonian, Hobart Olympic and Launceston Juventus. The first true statewide competition materialised in 1978 and was won by Hobart White Eagle, a club which went on to dominate the 1980s.

Players of note over the years have been Joe Honeysett, Harry Wise, Walter Worsey, George Arnott, Ted Huddlestone, Alex Sarfalvy, Roger Mies, Johnny Genovesi, Liam Monagle, David Clarkson and more recently Dominic Longo, Tasmania's latest Australian international. The sport's administration turned professional in 1993.

Further reading: C Hudson, A century of soccer, 18981998, Hobart, 1998.

Chris Hudson