The 2018 Bupa Tasmanian State League season was incredibly difficult for the North Hobart Demons, but exposure for some young stars and some off field stability indicates that a positive future is on the horizon.
A new (but old) name, a new coach and a raft of player changes made the build-up to the 2018 TSL season an interesting one for the Demons.
The departure of Kane Richter to Cairns saw well-respected assistant coach Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson take the reigns of head coach, however the loss of 2017 best and fairest Ryan Matthews and runner-up Will Campbell, as well as a host of other key players including Blake Grant, Jake Doran and Nic Hutchinson, to the Tigers, made for a tumultuous summer.
The season proper proved to be a tough slog, with the side winning just the one game, however the boost of having former Melbourne Demon Colin Garland to the club as a player (when fit), mentor and assistant coach proved invaluable.
Add to this the exposure the likes of Samuel Collins, Samuel Caswell, Callum Kilpatrick, Mitchell O’Neill, Jake Steele, Will Peppin and others received from playing key roles at senior level, and the 2018 season looks likely to hold the club in good stead moving forward.
Add some bigger, more experienced bodies and this group has the nucleus of an extremely talented side that will be able to make big strides in the right direction over the coming years.
Stability off field with a raft of players re-signing and the recruitment of some more experienced bodies should excite the North Hobart faithful moving forward, although the battle will be covering for so many talented youngsters missing TSL football for State representative duties.
7th (W: 1, L: 17, %: 31.40)
Sean Willis – 14
Team of the Year Representatives: 0
Best and Fairest:
Nathan McCulloch took home the GD Miller Medal after a consistent campaign leading the way in the middle of the ground.
Although hit by injury setbacks at times throughout the season, McCulloch’s footy smarts and experience came to the fore in the absence of more experienced teammates.
Skipper Hugh Williams‘ strong season in defence was also recognised, with the club’s leader finishing second in the GD Miller Medal race after holding the fort and leading by example despite suffering a nasty injury in round four.
Young gun Will Peppin and skipper Hugh NJ Williams finished as joint leaders for the Dees at the Alastair Lynch Medal, with four votes apiece.
Peppin emerged as a player to watch when in the red and blue, having also performed strongly for the Tassie Mariners at the U18 Academy Series.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Skipper Williams also proved to be the standout Demon for the media, finishing as the side’s highest Player of the Year vote-getter with 4. Trent Millhouse and Baxter Norton closely followed with two votes each.
The Rising Star:
Take your pick. North Hobart Oval is proving to be fertile ground for young Tasmanian talent, with the likes of Will Peppin and Sam Collins showing more than enough to indicate that no ceiling should be put on their potential.
The highlight of a tough year for the Demons had to be the side’s only win for the year, an eight-point win over the Tigers at the Twin Ovals in round eight.
Spurred on by the return of former junior and Melbourne Demon veteran Colin Garland, North Hobart delivered an inspired performance to clinch an impressive 7.8 (50) to 5.12 (42) victory.
North Hobart kicked five goals to two in the opening half to open up a healthy buffer and did just enough, kicking 2.4 to the Tigers’ 3.6 in the second half to hold on to a record a famous result.
As the Demons’ first win since going back to the North Hobart name, the efforts of Garland (two goals), and the two Hugh Williams’ in defence proved crucial in providing a highlight in an often challenging campaign.
The emergence of young talent Jake Steele also stood out, with the former basketballer and paddleboarder kicking his first senior goal to set the Demons on the path to victory.
A 144-point loss to Glenorchy in round 18 marked one of the Demons’ lowest ebbs this season.
The visitors were restricted to just 1.5 for the afternoon at KGV Oval, with Josh Cleaver’s goal only coming after the final siren.
Glenorchy were sensational in this encounter, kicking 22.23 to run riot against their inexperienced opposition.
2018 In Three Words:
A New Beginning