The Tasmanian Football League enjoyed a healthy turnout of fans at the games for decades and even caught the interest of AFL players from time to time. Fast forwarding to today, the newly-named Tasmanian State League that was reintroduced in 2009 struggles to attract the crowd numbers it used to attract.

AFL Tasmania has tried their hardest to find ways to fix this – changing the fixture, bringing in night games and other quick ideas that have failed to gain the fans back.

It’s time that TSL clubs and the AFL looked at bringing in former AFL stars to help bolster the league and cash in on the big-name players.

Tasmanian football has had a past success with former AFL players coming in. During the final decade of the TFL, guys like Dale Weightman, Doug Barwick, David Rhys-Jones, Darren Kappler, Rod Grinter, Wayne Weidema, and Stevie Wright were playing in the league.

2011 saw Glenorchy try and nab itself a former AFL player to coach the side, which they did back in 1996 when former Essendon star Paul Hamilton came down and coached for three years.

Glenorchy had approached former North Melbourne pair Glenn Archer and Corey Jones to coach the club, both of which declined the offer.  Not finding an AFL name coach, Glenorchy settled on former North Hobart full forward Byron Howard.

However, Glenorchy didn’t give up on its AFL player dream. The club decided to chase Jason Akermanis, and it started the ‘Get Aker At Glenorchy’ campaign to bring him down to Tasmania. Local businesses and even supporters donated money to make it happen.

Akermanis’ time at Glenorchy was short due to his commitments to other clubs, but while he was there he brought the crowds. But with his form not living up to the hype, the fans dropped off again and the deal was ended.

This year Glenorchy approached former Geelong and North Melbourne premiership player Cameron Mooney to come play a one-off game. He accepted the offer and played in front of over 2,000 fans on a Monday night.

Even though Cameron Mooney didn’t add much to the game, he brought a lot of fans and even got to tackle former Geelong teammate, now Clarence player, Cameron Thurley in the process.

New Norfolk, a club that currently resides in the Southern Football League, brought former Brisbane and Carlton forward Brendan Fevola down to the state. Fevola was meant to play alongside former teammate Simon Wiggins in a clash against Glenorchy but Glenorchy’s SFL side went into recess.

Fevola lined up against Huonville at Boyer Oval in front of an unofficial crowd of close to 5,000 people. On that day he kicked a total of 18 goals on an opponent, who boasted that he hadn’t had more than four goals kicked against him in one game.

Fevola’s 18 goals equalled Peter Hudson’s goalkicking record that has stood since 1979, when Hudson booted 18.2 against Hobart at the TCA Ground.

The league currently has a handful of former AFL players playing including Mitch Thorp, Cameron Thurley, Andrew Lee, Luke Shackleton, Jesse Wells and recently-delisted Richmond player Jeromey Webberley, who returns to the state as Clarence’s assistant coach.

Nick Gill is also another name that could be heading to the TSL after moving to Hobart from Cairns to work for Sea FM Hobart as a morning presenter. The former Melbourne, North Melbourne and Adelaide forward has been heavily linked with Clarence but the other five southern clubs are still hopeful of nabbing him.

AFL Tasmania needs to make sure that there is salary cap allowance for these clubs to try and bring some more names back to Tasmania, while also getting local businesses on side to make sure the clubs have the money.

It’s now or never for the league to bring in some big names to help build the crowds and get people interested in football in this state again.

Alternatively, the league can continue to struggle until it is no longer fixable.