By Alex FitzGerald
It will be a familiar sight on Saturday for football fans when North Launceston take to the field at Blundstone Arena.
The Bombers have fast become one of the most successful clubs in the country in recent years, with this season’s the Bupa TSL decider marking their sixth-straight appearance on Grand Final day. After finishing eighth in 2013, the Club broke through for their first finals appearance in 2014, where they came from third place to claim their maiden competition flag with a 59-point victory over the now-defunct Western Storm.
The Zane Littlejohn-coached Bombers backed it up in 2015 by defeating Glenorchy to claim top honours again, before falling to the Magpies in 2016.
The 2017 season saw Tom Couch take the reigns and the modern-day rivalry with Lauderdale reach new heights, with the Northern powerhouse blowing away their Southern namesakes to the tune of 87 points in a heated encounter at UTAS Stadium, before serving up back-to-back heartbreak to Darren Winter’s charges at the same ground again in 2018, albeit by a much-lesser margin; this time with Taylor Whitford at the helm.
Remarkably the two sides will meet again on the final day of season 2019, and while the Lauderdale faithful are heading into Saturday’s game likely possessing more confidence than they have before the past two deciders, they’ll have to quell the influence of a number of the state’s most decorated players if they’re to stop the TSL’s juggernaut.
At least 14 North Launceston players who will pull on the guernsey this weekend have tasted premiership success before, with Jack Avent, Taylor Whitford and Brad Cox-Goodyer all four-time flag-winners. 2018 Alastair Lynch Medalist Josh Ponting has three premierships under his belt and has become one of the genuine stars of the competition, while at the other end of the spectrum is Sherrin Egger, who added the 2018 Matthew Richardson Medal as the best young player in the TSL to his maiden flag last season.
Undoubtedly heading up the pack are Taylor Whitford and Brad Cox-Goodyer. The former is a two-time RACT Player of the Year recipient, with the tough midfielder also having both captained and coached his beloved Bombers to flags. Big-bodied onballer Cox-Goodyer has a resume that is as long as it gets, with the 2017 Lynch Medalist and 2019 Hudson Medal runner-up somehow saving his best for the biggest stage.
Cox-Goodyer has booted 16 goals in the Bombers’ four premierships, with an eight-goal haul in 2017 ensuring he was a shoo-in for the Darrel Baldock Medal as best on ground. Unbelievably he backed it up in 2018 to claim the award again and is likely to feature heavily in the votes when the final siren sounds in 2019.
For the North Launceston Football Club, today is just another impressive chapter in what is fast becoming a thick history book, regardless of the outcome.
Entry at Blundstone Arena will be via the Western Gate, with tickets available to be purchased via cash or card – Adults – $15, Concession – $10, U16 – $2