Inspired by Stephen Alomes' tremendous work of speculative fiction Australian Football, The People's Game 1958-2058, Neos Osmos has dusted off its flux capacitor and done some time travel of its own. It found this intriguing document from the year 2058, a newspaper article looking back at 200 years of football in Australia after association football was victorious in the global code war of the first half of the century.
It didn’t really take as long as everyone thought it would. Once America fell in 2051, the rest of the world, including Australia, capitulated. New Zealand, the last to fall, held out until the winter of 2055 largely because no-one else cared whether they got on board or not. When the yanks eventually clicked that the global business of ‘soccer’* was little different from McDonalds’ it became easy for FIFA to storm the citadel – alas too late to save the American empire (as it might otherwise have) but just in time to install association football truly as the world game.
|Ronald McDonald celebrating the marriage of soccer and American culture|
The old AFL and NRA clubs engaged in an ugly battle for the 12 new FFA franchises released in 2054, producing some unholy takeovers, mergers and bastard offspring. Collingwood and Western Sydney Rugby club merged to form the PAO Magpies (becoming a franchise of the global footballtainment consortium PAO Enterprises), initially playing in the A2 League but being promoted to the A League in its first year – largely through the massive backing of Dimitri McGuire. Essendon FC became a sub-franchise of the Man-Milan United super club. The Parramatta Eels became the Parramatta Leeds United.
Taken by surprise by the turn of events, the FFA had a massive war chest on hand but no war to fund. It resorted to the great Australian tradition of putting on a big party, to celebrate its ascension to the status of the one true Aussie football code.
|Melbourne Victory Demons v Geelong Celtic|
at the Melbourne Football Ground in 2008
Rather than celebrate this domination and the history of conflict behind it – which to some might smack of arrogance and hubris – the FFA decided to reflect upon the past 200 years of football in Australia. The historians consulted their records that clearly indicated that ‘football’ had been played in Australia in an organised form since 1858. Indeed two of the current A League clubs: Melbourne Victory Demons and Geelong Celtic (still playing in its traditional green and white hoops) had fought out the very first game of football in Australia, a drab 0-0 draw.
Some curmudgeons have argued that this first game was played under a very different set of rules from the present ones and it really isn’t appropriate to see a continuous 200-year history of football in Australia. This argument is easy to refute because it fails to acknowledge that the nascent spirit of football, our 'national game', our 'indigenous game', the first stirring of ‘the one game of our own world’ was made manifest by that contest between these grand old teams who now, at last after all these years, play the game as it should be played.
The doubters are also disproved by the evidence of Aboriginal football in Blandowski’s painting [below] from 1857 that clearly shows Aboriginal men playing a form of keepy-uppy in which ball juggling with the feet is the predominant aspect. The presence of nets being held aloft in the background also suggests the players were warming up for a game while the groundsmen set up the field of play.
* An archaic usage of the term football.