Darrin Pritchard | Tasmanian Football Club
Darrin Pritchard

Darrin Pritchard

30 October 2023

The captain of the State of Origin team that famously beat Victoria in 1990, Darrin Pritchard, believes the Tasmanian men’s and women’s AFL sides will become a source of great pride and inspiration for future generations.

The three-time Hawthorn premiership player and Tasmanian Team of the Century member could not have been more delighted when Tasmania’s long held ambition to join the AFL was realised.

“I’m extremely excited, I was so proud when we were awarded the licenses,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be so awesome for Tasmanian footy, I think to have our own teams playing out of Tasmania will be really inspirational for the next generation.

“It will give Tasmania a whole lot of confidence as a community.”

Pritchard grew up in Mount Nelson and came through the Sandy Bay Football club playing against Glenorchy in the first ever Statewide League Grand Final in 1986. The Seagulls were beaten in a spiteful affair by 32-points.

During his time at Sandy Bay, Pritchard benefited from the mentorship of the now Brisbane Lions’ coach Chris Fagan.

Fagan was a teammate at the Seagulls and had encouraged the then teenager to join him for extra gym work and sprint training after the club had endured a disappointing season in 1985.

“He was sort of coaching and nurturing me in that off-season and that gave me a lot of confidence you know, I got a bit quicker, I got a bit stronger,” Pritchard recalls.

Unbeknownst to Pritchard, his Sandy Bay coach Andy Bennett had also been spruiking his talents to the legendary Allan Jeans, whom Bennett had previously played under at Hawthorn.

“What I didn’t know was that Andy Bennett was sending videos of me to Hawthorn across the year.

“He was great mates with Allan Jeans.”

At the end of 1986, Pritchard was drafted to the Hawks with pick 26 - one of 17 Tasmanians selected in the inaugural VFL/AFL draft.

Across a career spanning 211 AFL games, he became one of the competition's finest wingmen and played key roles in Hawthorn’s Grand Final wins of 1988, 89 and 91.

It was during this period that Pritchard was also a regular Tasmanian representative in State of Origin matches including the 1990 clash with Victoria, when he led the side to a rousing 33-point win at a heaving North Hobart Oval.

“Certainly a great honour, I still can’t believe it was me given that experience,” he said.

For Pritchard, whose earliest football memories include climbing in the hedge at Queenborough Oval and marveling at the drop kicks of North Hobart champion Don McLeod, pulling on the famous map jumper was a source of immense pride.

“It symbolised the strength of Tasmania for me, that particular jumper,” he said.

“Watching Tasmanian teams play at North Hobart Oval was a great inspiration for me…

“To actually experience that myself and us to be able to win that game was as special as the premierships.”

On Sunday 24 June 1990, a packed crowd of 18,651 went wild as Tasmania unleashed an eight goal burst in the final quarter to win 20.14.144 to 14.17.101. Thousands spilled onto the ground mobbing the players in the aftermath.

“It took me a long time to get off the ground just because of the amount of people wanting to come up and say hello – say well done,” Pritchard recalls.

“For me the pride that the Tasmanian people had that day was the most important thing.”