One of Tasmania’s finest un-drafted footballing talents has returned home to reignite a flame extinguished 15 years ago.
Luke Crane began his career at George Town, quickly rising up the ranks to debut for the senior side at the tender age of 15.
The Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame inductee was a member of the NTFA premiership teams in 2002 and 2003, playing 31 games for the club coupled with selection for the Tasmanian Mariners team.
In 2004 he relocated interstate and played for state-league sides Zillmere Eagles (Queensland) and Sturt (South Australia) before moving to Portland in Victoria as a player-coach.
This leap of faith was ultimately the catalyst for a sustained period of dominance for the talented ruck-rover, in which he won six best and fairest awards over a decade.
“I’d finished the Mariners program, and at that stage the TSL had folded, so I’d decided to join my cousin Bron and her husband Scott Hawkins [formerly of North Launceston] who were living in Queensland, so I got in contact to play state league over there,” Crane said.
After winning three straight best and fairest awards at Zillmere, brighter horizons beckoned Crane and his wife as they decided to move closer to home.
“Going to South Australia was pretty massive, I guess growing up all I wanted to do was play for North Launceston in the TSL, so for me going to Sturt was a bit like that,” he said.
After a short stint in Victoria, the 33-year-old felt the time was right to return home, as the curtains slowly draw on his decorated playing career.
“There were a few things in my private life, but also I felt it was the right time because I was away for so long.
“All the family are still back here and hopefully my brother will join me as well. I don’t think I have many years left in me. For me, coming home is a really good opportunity to give a little bit back to the club that I grew up and played with.”
George Town coach Allan O’Sign, who also debuted in 2001 aged 15, albeit with North Launceston, embraced Crane’s value.
“Regardless of what Luke does with the coaching side he’s going to be a real leader anyway, his on-field experience and off-field leadership will be second to none,” he said.
O’Sign recognised that the club needed to add experienced heads to a young playing list in a bid to play finals.
“Luke being an experienced campaigner can really lead the way to the juniors and also give myself a break at times. It’s an area that we’ve identified that we need to recruit, and this year we are going hard to recruit experienced guys to really complement our young list.”