(2/4)BRUCE Tschirpig could be forgiven for having less than fond memories of his time residing on the Coast.
From being punched by arguably the state’s greatest footy export to having the prestigious Burnie Gift taken from him, Tschirpig certainly has plenty of tales to tell from his time in Tasmania.
However, those tales are nothing but positive.
“I had some great times playing footy in Tasmania,” Tschirpig said.
“Doc (Baldock) was one of the best coaches I played under and certainly one of the best players I played with.”
Tschirpig will return to the Coast this week to attend the reunion for the Latrobe Football Club 1969-72 NWFU premiership sides.
Tschirpig, originally from Wentworth, made eight appearances with Richmond in the 1971 VFL season which included a four-goal haul in a win over Carlton at the MCG to celebrate Roger Dean’s 200th game.
Although he played in Richmond’s final home and away season fixture, Tschirpig was not called upon for the finals.
He left for Latrobe the following season.
“I wasn’t wanted by Richmond at the end of 71 after I’d undergone a cartilage operation (on his knee),” he said.
“I’d had a few offers from Essendon and other clubs, including Latrobe.
“I’d never been to Tassie and I was looking for something different, so after speaking with club officials, I decided to make the move.”
Taking to the field for the Demons in the 1972 premiership winning side, Tschirpig also played in the 1973 and 1974 losing grand finals and again in 1975.
As for what happened in the 1976 Burnie New Year’s Day Gift, Tschirpig, who ran to keep fit for football, is still mystified as to what happened.
A red-hot favourite to win, being snapped up for a record $450 in the Calcutta leading up to the big race, Tschirpig naturally made it through to the final and won – or so he thought.
“My colour went up and my name was written on the winner’s cheque,” he recalled.
“Kevin Portch, who finished second, and his trainer both congratulated me on the win.
“Next thing, I was informed officials were looking at the photo finish and then (Portch) was announced the winner.
“I’ve looked at the photos since and my foot was across the line first.
“I’m still a bit mystified by it all.”
Richmond lured him back in 1976, but he could only add two further games to his tally and finished his career in Western Australia where he played at East Fremantle and Perth.
The 62-year-old, who still resides in Western Australia, was this year inducted into the inaugural AFL Masters WA Hall Of Fame.
Also set to attend next Saturday night’s reunion at the Latrobe Football Club are former AFL legends Barry Breen and Des Tuddenham.
Tickets are still available for the night, which is open to the general public.
For further information or to book tickets, contact Peter Freshney on 0417287006.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.