The 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League season was a challenging but ultimately optimistic one for North Hobart, with Bear Robinson’s Demons showing great competitiveness and development to improve on a one-win 2018 campaign.
Although anchored to the bottom of the ladder for a second straight season, the Demons, buoyed by the return of favourite son Sam Darley and 11 games from AFL veteran Colin Garland, almost doubled their percentage this season and delivering highly competitive performances against every side in the competition.
Improvements were clear to see in terms of the side’s competitiveness across the first half of the campaign, but the importance of late-season wins proved to be crucial, with the Demons finishing the year with three wins – two more than last season – and with each of these wins coming in the final eight rounds of the season.
Many would have predicted the young Demons to tire as the season progressed, but with three wins and two competitive four-goal losses across the final seven games, there is a sense of optimism surrounding the red and the blue heading into 2020.
The likes of Callum Kilpatrick (who shone as part of the Tasmanian U25 Representative Side), Sam Caswell, Angus Norton and Bailey Walker have all had another season of senior TSL football under their belt, regularly delivering as the team’s better performers. Matthew Yates also emerged as a key figure for the Demons, impressing with his ball use out of the back half.
Skipper Hugh NJ Williams also had another strong season, despite playing as an undersized ruckman for much of the year. Support for him in this position will likely be a key off-season focus for the Demons.
With a raft of talented youngsters likely to be tied up with Tasmania Devils NAB League commitments in 2020, the question remains whether the next wave of young players can stand up and deliver consistently to help the side make some tangible movements and in-roads up the ladder.
7th, 3-15, 60.94%
Colin Garland – 42
Sam Darley – 13
Nathan McCulloch – 12
Team of the Year Representatives: 1
Sam Darley (Wing)
Best and Fairest:
Sam Darley claimed the George Miller Medal in a canter, polling 171 votes to finish ahead of 2018 winner Nathan McCulloch on 92.
Leading goalkicker Colin Garland proved to be the standout for the Demons in the Lynch Medal count, polling 10 votes to finish inside the top 10.
Nine of Garland’s votes came in three best afield performances, with a one-vote effort in the final round seeing the former Melbourne Demon move into the top 10.
Nathan McCulloch was the next best Demon with five, while Sam Darley and skipper Hugh NJ Williams also picked up four votes each.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Sam Darley was the standout Demon according to the media, polling 12 votes to finish equal fifth.
Garland was again rewarded for his standout performances with nine votes, while Nathan McCulloch also notched five.
There were three standout moments for the Demons in 2019, with three victories all memorable in their own way.
A 55-point win over the ‘Roos in round 14 broke a 413-day drought between senior Bupa TSL wins for the North Hobart Football Club, with Colin Garland’s bag of eight and the efforts of Callum Kilaptrick, Sam Darley and Nathan McCulloch making for a memorable day for the red and the blue. A round 21 win over the ‘Roos under Friday night lights saw stalwart Ollie Di Venuto off in style; but a round 17 seven-point win over eventual Preliminary Finalist Launceston will go down as the highlight of the season.
The Blues finished the game with a wet sail, threatening to overcome a significant North Hobart lead, but the Demons dug deep in a frenetic final term to secure a famous win against arguably the competition’s form side at that stage of the season.
The Demons were highly competitive throughout season 2019 but a big 91-point loss to North Launceston in round 12 was a clear lowlight.
The Northern Bombers completely outgunned the Demons in every area of the ground with Josh Ponting putting on a midfield masterclass to supply Bart McCulloch with silver service. North Hobart struggled to get any momentum in the clash, kicking just two goals for the game, while McCulloch (6 goals), Brad Cox-Goodyer (4) and Dakota Bannister (2) ran riot.
A big 73-point round 18 loss to the Tigers was also disappointing, with the Demons looking flat after a string of competitive performances in the weeks leading into this clash.
2019 In Three Words:
Competitiveness is building