Vale Sean Collins (2/5/1955 - 6/10/2022)
Sean Collins, president of Football Tasmania from 2008 until 2017, passed away suddenly in Hobart this week aged 67.
Sean had a distinguished career as a player and coach before giving back to the game by becoming an administrator.
He had a strong commitment to the community and loved his football.
Sean was born in the Republic of Ireland and he and his wife Mary came to Tasmania in the late 1970s, where he resumed his football career with Devonport City.
The school which he attended in Ireland did not encourage association football (soccer) but promoted hurling and Gaelic football.
Sean and his mates would meet and arrange secret football games at various venues unbeknown to the school authorities.
After playing for Devonport, Sean moved to Hobart and joined Caledonians, where he won a State League title in 1981.
Caledonians only needed a draw against Launceston Juventus on the final day of the season to win the State League title on goal-difference, and they did just that, drawing 2-2 with the Northerners before a crowd of 2,000 at South Hobart. I recall the queue at the turnstiles stretching down to Macquarie Street as the game kicked off.
Sean had a superb game (I gave him an 8 out of 10 rating in my match report for The Age’s Soccer Action in Melbourne), despite him heading an own-goal in the 58th minute to give Launceston Juventus a 2-1 advantage.
John Charlton, son of England 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton, made it 2-2 three minutes from the end with a stunning volley from 30 metres and that gave Caledonians the title against a strong Launceston Juventus side coached by the late Ken Worden and featuring players of the calibre of Peter Savill, Peter Sawdon and Joe Udovicic.
Sean was working as a fisheries compliance officer at the time and missed some games because he was at sea aboard Japanese long-liners recording their catches.
He was of sufficient seniority at the time and was usually able to send colleagues to sea so that he could be in Hobart to play. That didn’t stop the Calies player-coach of the time, John Taylor, from dropping him when he had to miss training.
Sean had a wicked sense of humour and would often play practical jokes on his team-mates.
I doubt whether any of them know to this day who put the pigs’ trotters in their kit bags in the dressing rooms before one particular game.
Sean transferred to White Eagles for a few seasons and won another title before playing for Glenorchy Knights and finishing his playing career with University.
It was then that he turned his attention to refereeing and he became a leading referee in Tasmania.
After that, he became an administrator and was elected as president of Football Tasmania in 2008.
It was under his presidency that the Victory League was formed as a new State League in 2013, when the brilliant John Boulous was CEO.
Football rose to new heights and links between Tasmania and the rest of Australia were strengthened under Sean’s leadership.
He regularly attended national football administrative meetings as president of Football Tasmania during his tenure.
While doing all this, Sean was enhancing his professional career as an Information Technology guru with the Department of Primary Industries, where I had got to know him better when I was a publications officer with the department in 1993-94.
He then moved to the Health Department and eventually to Forestry Tasmania, where he worked with current Football Tasmania president, Bob Gordon, before retiring from full-time employment.
He was always keen to improve himself and was an active member of public speaking groups such as Toastmasters and Rostrum.
Committed to the community and to the betterment of society, Sean was also a committee member of Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania from 2013 until 2020 and he was a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Australia Board from 2016 to 2022.
Sean was a generous man. I shall never forget when he gave me his tickets to a Liverpool game so that I could see them ‘live’ in Sydney.
Sean was a keen cyclist and a connoisseur of wine and good food.
He and his wife, Mary, travelled to Europe earlier this year to catch up with two of their sons who are studying in Berlin. Cormac and Fionn were promising players before injuries took their toll and deciding to concentrate on their studies. Oisin, the youngest, also was a fair player.
In recent years, I’d often see him cycling through the Hobart and Glenorchy suburbs and he’d always stop for a chat if he spotted me.
We had lunch just a month ago and he had said it was his shout next and he’d pick the restaurant.
It wasn’t to be, and I, together will many former players, referees and club supporters, will miss his Irish sense of humour and his immense contribution to our wonderful game.
Sean is survived by his wife, Mary, and sons Cormac, Fionn and Oisin.
Photo: Sean Collins ready to referee a match at North Chigwell. [PlessPix]
Photo: Sean Collins as president of Football Tasmania. [PlessPix]
Photo: Sean Collins ponders a question at a media conference. [PlessPix]
Photo: Sean Collins in 2009, shortly after assuming the role of Football Tasmania president. [PlessPix]
Photo: Sean Collins interviewed in "Soccer International".