A recent investigation into footage of early Australian Rules football action has identified the earliest known surviving film of a Tasmanian football match. The surviving film fragments document the clash to decide the 1911 Tasmanian State Premiership between the premiers of the Northern (NTFA) and Southern (TFL) leagues. Cameras were present along with nearly 6000 spectators as they crammed into Hobart’s Tasmanian Cricket Association (TCA) Ground on Saturday 9 September 1911 to witness Cananore and North Launceston battle it out for the Apple Isle’s football bragging rights.
The surviving three minutes (see below) consists of four brief segments located within approximately 20 minutes of 35mm nitrate film sourced from two reels. Confusingly, these segments were not in their correct chronological order and had been spliced between sequences from other seemingly unrelated Tasmanian events such as a religious service, an athletics steeplechase event, a group of motoring enthusiasts and a soldiers’ march. The footage presented below is an attempt to edit the four isolated film fragments back into an approximation of their original correct running order. The original duration of the film, though presently unknown, is likely to have been between 6-10 minutes.
The two original 35mm film reels were acquired by the NFSA from the estate of Harry Davidson, a Melbourne film collector of international renown. Davidson would diligently follow leads around the country, contacting retired exhibitors, projectionists and evasive film collectors to uncover lost celluloid treasures. A rare interview he conducted for a July 1974 Cinema Papers article mentions him tracking down a reclusive collector of silent films living in Burnie, Tasmania. Though unconfirmed, it is highly probable these reels were acquired by Davidson via this contact.