St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt says he is proud of the impact his column on the AFL’s treatment of Tasmania was received as more of the state’s football identities jump on board the renewed push for a Tasmanian team.
“I don’t think the argument has been compelling as it is now with Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney coming into the competition and the support they have got from the league,’’ Hobart-born Riewoldt said at Wednesday’s A Celebration of Tasmanian Football at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
“All the arguments that have been trotted out before why they wouldn’t work, I don’t think they stack up anymore and I’m really glad that it has been put back on the agenda.”
He got some family support from his cousin and Richmond spearhead Jack.
“It was an extremely well-written article, with some valid points that will debunk a few myths on football in Tasmania,” he said.
“This night along with some pushes from senior people in the football heartland, be them Tasmanian or not, will continue to keep those jungle drums beating for maybe one day to be based solely out of Tasmania.
“We play so-called “Australian Rules Football” but I don’t think we will truly have a national competition until we do have sides playing out of its key states.”
St Kilda’s Maverick Weller aligned himself with his former skipper, believing a Tasmanian team is something that could “really work” down the track.
“The thing that the public don’t really understand is how passionate Tasmanians are, and to have something of their own, they would get behind it,’’ the Burnie product said.
A Tasmanian team was the elephant in the room on Wednesday in what was supposed to be more of a party than a campaign meeting, however it was a topic that was touched on by a select few.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan, reiterated the comments he made to Fairfax Media on Tuesday that he believed it was cultural injustice that Tasmania, being a traditional football state, did not have the opportunity to be in the competition.
It brought a round of applause from the 500-strong crowd.
Fagan got support from Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade and Carlton’s Brendon Bolton.
Bolton went further, suggesting returning to a full Tassie Mariners program could be a strong starting point.
Richmond chief executive and North-West Coast product Brendon Gale said seeing a Tasmanian side would be number two on his wishlist, behind seeing a Tigers flag.
The man most under the pump over the issue, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, used his time with the microphone to reassure Tasmania its place on the football landscape.
“Tasmania is a state that is incredibly important in our national game,’’ he said.
“We continue to invest and work to the long term future, but it’s not easy.”
He also used the evening to reaffirm his desire that Tasmania was a one team state.
It was the first official function for the Tasmanian Football Foundation, which is aiming to issue three grants of $10,000 across the North-West, North and South to support the game in those regions.