Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Launceston-based editor of The Examiner, Courtney Greisbach.
If it wasn't for football you might not be reading this today. Sounds melodramatic, but it's true. You see, my father was a traitor. The six-foot-tall, broad-shouldered Queenslander decided to ditch his calling for rugby and play real footy.
At the age of 18, he made his way to Burnie in Tasmania to play for the Cooee Bulldogs with his mates. Forty-five years later and he can nearly call himself a Tasmanian. While his mates left for the better weather, Dad fell in love, raised two daughters to love AFL and refuses to call anywhere else home.
His only self-professed failure as a father was not raising us to be Geelong supporters, but he is trying very hard to convert his grandchildren early - even his unborn grandson is already a Cats member.
In Tasmania, footy is religion. When I first met him 14 years ago I was staggered to discover my future husband didn't follow an AFL team. Too scared to introduce him to my father, I demanded he pick a team before we could be officially dating.
Whatever the sport, how do you possibly choose a team?
For the husband it was the colours of his country team - which just happened to be the Demons. I still don't understand how he could pick from scratch and choose the bottom-placed team. But the husband is another example of the Tasmanian air making people live and breathe football. He went from "what is footy?" to a card-carrying Demons member for the past 10 years. And still no victory in sight.
I was brainwashed by my grandfather to support Essendon (I don't want to talk about it) and my sister chose North Melbourne because she was in love with Wayne Carey (this was before those incidents).
Some people might follow a certain team because one of the players was drafted from their home town. Or maybe they're lucky enough to have a team based in their city or region.
Tasmania doesn't have its own team in the AFL. But in state with a population of 515,000, some 91,000 people are financial members of an AFL club.
Tassie has provided the AFL with some of the best players to ever kick a Sherrin: Darrel Baldock, Ian Stewart, Peter Hudson, Royce Hart, Alastair Lynch, Matthew Richardson, Michael Roach, and more recently Grant Birchall, Ben Brown and Nick and Jack Riewoldt.
There are the coaches, like Rodney Eade, Brendon Bolton and Chris Fagan, and even some of the men in white (or whatever colour it is these days), such as umpire Mitch LeFevre.
And, of course, Tasmania bred one of the best commentators going around: Tim Lane.
As Fagan said in 2017: "The AFL won't be truly complete until there is a Tasmanian team".
In case you missed it, Tassie has recently launched a new push for its own AFL team.
The hardest task may be getting the AFL to believe but even former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou says the time is right for Tasmania to enter the national competition. This from the same man who refused to meet the Premier in 2008 and said it could never happen.
The taskforce developing the business case for a Team Tas is led by former Virgin Australia co-founder Brett Godfrey. That case has to be based on economics, and opportunities for local talent to flourish.
As the taskforce's "United We Stand" pledge tally moves closer to 20,000 on the way to a goal of at least 50,000, Australia's new favourite Tassie sporting hero (sorry Ricky!) has lent his support to the AFL push.
Test cricket captain Tim Paine, who last week became the first Aussie skipper to reclaim the Ashes on English soil since Steve Waugh in 2001, took time out from his team's preparations for the fifth Test at The Oval to send a message home.
You can't argue with a winner!
Editor, The Examiner
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