Friday Night saw the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame annual awards night, Hobart already having strong representation including our 2010 recognition in the ‘hall’ as a “Great Club”, as well as recognition of our 1973 team of “Giant Killers”. We have a number of inductees including Noel Atkins, Trevor Leo, Burnie Payne, Ian Stewart, Scott Clayton, Alastair Lynch, Paul Hudson, Scott Wade, Chris Fagan, Jamie Shanahan and Mal Pascoe. The Hobart Football Club was once again recognised with the elevation of Paul Sproule to ‘ICON’ Status in the Hall of Fame. Also recognised on the night was Mathew Armstrong, who was inducted as a legend.
Paul Sproule was a tough, skilful and damaging ruck-rover/forward who emerged with Hobart in the TFL in the mid-1960s. His credentials in Tasmanian football were established in the fiery 1966 TFL grand final that was won by the Tigers by one point over Glenorchy. A fortnight later, the Tigers went down by eight points to City South in the state final in an even more brutal affair.
VFL talent scouts had seen enough, however, and Sproule was duly recruited to Essendon for the 1967 season. After making significant progress in the 1968 season, including playing in the premiership decider which the Dons lost to Carlton, Sproule’s career stalled in the early 1970s.
At this time Richmond was still under the guidance of Tom Hafey and its administration was led by Peter Schwab. The Tigers recruiting guru had seen both Sproule and Royce Hart on a recruiting mission in 1966 and had tried to secure Sproule at that time. In late 1971 he couldn’t believe the Dons were letting Sproule go and he moved quickly to sign him for Richmond.
The Tigers were spot on in their assessment; Sproule became an integral part of their two premierships in the 1970s and was a finals specialist frequently amongst their best players in the big games.
Still in his prime, Paul Sproule’s next move was to return to Tasmania and take on the captain-coach role with Sandy Bay in the TFL. Sproule subsequently led the Bay to three consecutive flags and followed this with a fourth as coach of his original club, Hobart, in 1980.
Mathew Armstrong played over 150 AFL games for Fitzroy and North Melbourne between 1987 and 1997, following being recruited from Hobart at the end of 1986. Following his AFL career he was the Captain/Coach of the undefeated North Launceston team in the 1998 Statewide League, He was an assistant coach at Brisbane in 1999, following on from which he coached the Tasmanian Devils in the VFL, and has run various state academy programs throughout the year, He is certainly a very deserving inductee into the hall of fame.