Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Thursday 28 February 2013


I knew the Footy Record was both ahead of its time and off its head. This from Round 4 1936 kind of proves it.

Startling Proposal.

A London exchange recently contained the following, which to Australians is as amazing as it is ridiculous;—

"A startling proposal hat been made to a first division football League club (soccer) that they should dope their players before a match. It was put forward with the plausible suggestion that the concoction offered would simply help the men to play for ninety minutes at full speed, but I am told that it was dope under the thinnest disguise.

"The flagging energies of a team have been stimulated at half-time by champagne, but this is the first time I have known of any plan being conceived to induce players to put forth greater physical efforts by 'doctoring' them.

"A director of the club Said: 'The offer came to us mysteriously, and, although we never had any thought of using it, we decided to explore it. Obviously we were being asked to dope the men, and, even if we could have persuaded them to take the medicine simply as a tonic, as we were asked to regard it, we should have deserved the severest censure. The suggestion was abhorrent to us.

"But, with the knowledge of some of my fellow directors, I decided to test the effect of the dope on myself. It was certainly remarkable. I became unusually roused and excited, and I felt livelier and stronger. These feelings, too, died away gradually, and I was not conscious of any reaction or ill effects.

"But, if we might have won all our matches by doping the players, you may bo sure we should not have done so. I reported the result of my test and—the concoction was thrown down the drain."

And with that action the sport loving Australian public will heartily concur.


A Lost Aboriginal Soccer Player Found?

This is as mysterious as it is exciting. Smack bang in the middle of this fantastic photograph of the Dinmore Bush Rats (is there a better name in Australian sport?) 1910 2nd Premiers, is a man who appears to be Aboriginal. He is named as Quilp and his presence in the photo sends a frisson through the settled histories of football in Australia.

Dinmore Bush Rats, 2nd Premiers, Ipswich, 1910.
Top row: W. Lucas, W. Pioch, G. Humphrey, D. Potts, N. Randolph. 2nd row: C. H. Jones (Vice-president), J. Potts (Vice-president), G. Skellern, Quilp, A. Nunn, W. Dawes (Treasurer), J. Tedman (Vice-president). 3rd row: W. Jordan (Secretary), J. Burns, J. Staafford (Patron), E. Dawes (Captain), G. Jones, M. Bailey (President), W. Thompson, A. Stewart (Vice-president). Front row: M. Reichart, W. Tait, H. Randolph, H. Hainsworth (Vice-president).

Who is Quilp? Is he Aboriginal? Where is he from? How does he come to be playing British Association Football? Why the Dickensian name? There's a PhD in all of that!

A cursory glance at the digital archive reveals one reference to a soccer player named Quilp, playing for the Reliance team from Dinmore in 1904. Confusingly, it suggests the Quilp was sent off for backchat and then subsequently scored the winning goal that was to become the subject of a protest.
Quilp began talking to the referee and was ordered off the field. The game now was very fast and Hunter was playing well is also was Roberts and Salisbury. Verrol in goal as per usual was very clever in clearing his goal line. The Reliance got away, and Quilp had a shot at goal. To the spectators it did not seem as though they scored, but the referee gave a goal to Reliance, who were now 1 to nil. No further goals were scored, and at call of time a protest with regard to the above goal was lodged. The Brisbane Courier Monday 30 May 1904 p 6
It is possible that this is the first recorded goal by a senior Aboriginal player in Australian soccer, though it's also possible that as a forward (winger) he scored a few before that.

It's a mystery that is just begging to be explained. More to come!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

No not that Robert Muir, this Robert Muir!

Robert Muir 1

SATURDAY'S FOOTBALL DISTURBANCE. Robert Muir, who was the leading spirit in the disgraceful football "barrackers'" rowdyism at Camberwell on Saturday afternoon, was before the local court to-day, charged with assaulting the police and two civilians and using obscene language. He was sentenced to three terms of three months' imprisonment for the assaults, and fined £10, or in default an additional three months, for obscene language. The chairman of the bench characterised accused's conduct as that of one of the greatest ruffians ever brought before him. Accused's plea all through was that he was drunk.Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) Saturday 1 September 1900 p 15

Robert Muir 2


RAAF and other Australian Military Soccer Photos

Gearing up for the rewriting of my Soccer and Anzac piece in time for ANZAC Day, just found a little nest egg of photos recently added to the war memorial collection.

The first two are photos of soccer teams/games played in North Africa in 1943 involving members of the RAAF, or seconded RAF members.

El Daba, Egypt. c. December 1943. A group portrait of No. 451 (Spitfire) Squadron RAAF, soccer team.
The squadron, in its long service overseas, has made a big name for itself in the field of sport,
including football, Australian rules, rugby and soccer.



Cuers, France. October 1944. Informal portrait of 11207 Leading Aircraftman K. E. Lewis of Hamilton, Vic, the only RAAF member of a soccer team from No. 451 (Spitfire) Squadron RAAF of France. All the other players were RAF members attached to the squadron.

Thursday 21 February 2013

A reply to Bazza Whatsisface

This letter was sent to Baz Blakeney by Ozespri, a poster on the Melbourne Victory message board. Baz it will be remembered felt that socceristas should probably go back to where they came from and take their soccer balls with them.

The letter's an elegant piece of satire to which Baz has failed to respond. No surprise there, He's probably too busy speaking to his lawyers about how to handle the accusations of racism and bigotry that have been flying his way.

The final para of the letter changes the mood however, because it relates a true and moving story.

Dear Sir/Madam,

A good friend has been kind enough to email a copy of your current article.

She is a connoisseur of all such anti-sockah articles in the Herald Sun and is collecting them with a view to publishing them in a book one day. She tells me she has had to purchase a 2tb hard drive for the backups, but I digress.

I don't normally bother with them reading them, finding them somewhat repetitive and seemingly published for the purposes of 'trolling' or 'getting hits' or whatever the current terminology is.

Anyway. I've never heard of you and doubt I will again, but I do note you're more qualified than most of the Sun writers who have their weekly turn pontificating on the subject having attending a total of two games. No doubt you played a season at under 6 and found it too easy, but are just too modest to state.

Now, my friend believes your article verges on racism, but of course it doesn't. She has failed to spot the subtleties of your prose reminiscent of the best of Catch-22, Portnoy's Complaint and Monty Python.

I mean, who could seriously write and believe that throwing punches and spitting is to be held up as the ideal of Aussie spectator larrikin behaviour. Next thing you'd be saying that shouting 'BALL' every five seconds demonstrates how advanced the atmosphere and bogan behaviour at AFL has progressed over the years. I know, sends a tingle down the spine every time.

Some wonder why obscure journalists get a weekly turn in the Sun to write an anti-sockah column, but I know that any day soon all the Sun's soccer writers will be getting their own column to wonder aloud why AFL is still a provincial sport after 150 years, why fifty rules change every season and why it's so boring after the 30th goal was scored. Possibly because it looked amazingly similar to previous 29.

Anyway, sorry I've digressed again.

The reason for this email is that my good friend, a fifth generation Aussie, died this week. He attended almost every Victory home game for the last five years. How fortunate it is that he didn't have to learn - from you - that he wasn't a proper Australian and should go back to wherever he came from.


Yours sincerely,
****** ****** (Yes, a foreign name, but still born here. Where do you want me to take my sockah ball to?)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Attempts to tax foreign sport

Don't let the Vlad the Impaler get wind of this tax on foreign sport reported in the Australian press in 1932:


Novel Tax by Irish Free State

(Special to 'The Daily News')

DUBLIN. July 8.

After an all-day debate the Dail Eireann by a majority of five decided to impose an amusement tax on 'foreign sport,' namely, soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, rowing, dancing, exempting Gaelic football and hurling.

Monday 18 February 2013

Eddie McGuire on soccer: a lost document found

I lost this nearly three years ago and now I've just found it. It's a dot-point report on Eddie McGuire's speech to the Collingwood coterie crowd. He is articulating his fears about what might happen if Australia were to host a World Cup
May 10, 2010

A mate was at a Collingwood coterie last Friday. He reported to me that Eddie talked for 45 minutes. A big chunk of that was taken up with a focus on the WC and sokkah. He made the following points to the gathered 200:

1. The World Cup bid is a white elephant because it will cost too much too run at the expense of the AFL.

2. The AFL and Collingwood will lose money from the bid because of season's suspension and rescheduling of games.

3. The AFL brand will suffer in the 5 years prior to the World Cup because of FIFA promotion and advertising.

4. AFL grass roots is in danger because kids will be seduced by the world game.

5. AFL is in danger from young kids and newly arrived migrants playing soccer.

6. He likes Soccer as long as it is not played widely in Australia.(Celtic in particular)

7. Claimed the bid will directly affect the finances of the Collingwood football club.

8. Claimed FIFA demands 12 stadiums with a capacity of 50,000 plus a two month suspension of AFL and an agreement that AFL will not use these stadiums during that period.

9. Claims that FIFA will put pressure on the AFL not to promote footy during the tournament.
The issue is not so much smelling the fear as using the rhetoric of fear. Eddie uses soccer the way a Cold War politician used communism, or the way a priest would use the devil. The priest doesn't believe in the devil (he is most likely an athiest!) but his flock is terrified of him.

Eddie also reported (to much merriment) that Malthouse described Dawes as a "Brighton Grammar poofter".

Football Violence: Baz on the Bash

I speculated last week that footy commentators actually like the harder, purer forms of violence in footy crowds. I didn't expect this to be backed up by a phoody hack so quickly:

Baz Blakeney writes in yesterday's Hun,
I have attended only two soccer games in my life. One was a Crystal Palace match in London and it was a fairly civilised affair. The other was a Melbourne Heart game. That too, was without violence or major incident. No emergency services were called. No grandstands were burned. No one was trampled. Or glassed. Or stabbed. Or kicked to death.
Here Baz maintains the grand Melbourne sports commentary tradition of writing about something of which he knows very little. But it hardly seems too tough on soccer. Bit of an advert for the game really.

He is disturbed, however, by the presence of a Capo, directing chants, who has his back to the game.
But there was this guy. In the Heart cheer squad. With a megaphone. Shouting chants for other cheer squad members to follow. He spent the entire match with his back to the game. Never saw a kick.
That's not a guy who loves sport. That's a guy who loves shouting.
Maybe it was this bloke, someone who also spends a
bit of time with his back to the play at Collingwood games . . .

Joffa, turn around! The game's the other way.

Perhaps Baz needs to have a bit of a look at other sports crowds to see just how engaged people are by the contest in front of them. Having recently attended a one-dayer at the MCG I reckon I saw a number of people who loved a number of things before they loved cricket: drinking, getting dressed up as Fred Flintstone, getting their gear off, bowing to authority, fighting, pretending to be morons, building beer-cup snakes. Let's face it, many of them don't actually give a shit about what goes on on the field.

Ultimately Baz is right, the Capo does indeed spend a lot of the game with his back turned. That's his role and his choice. But, it would be madness to say he is not engaged.

Baz, of course, admits that his knowledge and expertise is more in the realm of Australian rules.
I have attended many more Australian rules football games than I have soccer matches.
And, despite all the bluster and chest-puffing among Aussie rules fans, I have rarely seen serious violence or malice. OK, I was once decked by a Collingwood fan at Victoria Park, but I probably asked for it. And an Adelaide Crows supporter once spat at me. But what do you expect from hillbillies?
I don't get how soccer is losing the argument thus far; boys being boys, Baz? Probably. But it seems that what footy doesn't have is the old 'underlying menace', a quality usually attributed to manifestations of a different culture or something difficult to comprehend -- like Asian migration, Islam, music without guitar solos, the interwebs, social media and quinoa.

Baz reckons that despite "the occasional fisticuffs and push-and-shove, Australian football never seems to have that underlying menace that pervades the 'world' game" -- a sport of which he has only observed two contradictingly placid examples.

Baz, like the parody of a burlesque of a stereotype that he is, inevitably resorts to the presence-of-evil-wogs (with knives and bombs) argument
I can vaguely understand the old ethnic woes that are inherent in soccer. Serbs and Croats living out ancient hatreds on the football pitch.
And the argy-bargy between English and German fans is understandable given World War II. Bombing raids tend to stick in the memory.

He rightly points out that such miserable bloody race feuds have no place in Australia -- though he does raise the serious possibility that he can't count: "But Victory versus Heart? One team is nine years old and the other is five."

In a thrilling close Baz nails his colours to the mast. He loves his country and its anthem. No doubt wearing his Cronulla Cape, he writes:
The opening lines of our national anthem say we should rejoice because we are young and free.

No age-old hatreds, no bitter rivalries or blood feuds. This is Australia.

Young and free. Young and free.

If you don't believe those magical words, then rack off.

And take your round football with you.
A brilliant piece of polemic could have been truly capped off if only Baz had gone to the real source of his inspiration and quoted some of its choice truisms:

T-shirts for sale at Melbourne's Queen Vicoria Market. Humanity sold seperately. Photo: Herald Sunfuck-off-we-are-full.jpg
The one thing Baz does need to explain: who told him
that he could get away with that monstrosity of a denim jacket?

Monday 11 February 2013

Corrupt Socceristas impose Association Football on Tasmanian Cricketers

Well not really. But the origins of organised soccer in Tasmania go back to a meeting in which the knowledge of standing orders seemed as important as the desire of the members. A fascinating look at one moment in the 1879 Hobart code war, when one football club chose to play soccer. The piece was published in the Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston) 7 May 1879.

Cricketers Football Club - A meeting of members of the Cricketers Football Club was held at the Queen's Battery, Hobart Town, on Monday, the Mercury says, (a key of the pavilion not forthcoming). About fifteen gentlemen were present. Mr G.S. Chapman (mounted on a gun carriage) presided. The secretary, Mr H.B. Smith, read a draft of general rules which the committee had drawn up for the approval of the club. The only amendments made related to the number to form a quorum of a general meeting, which was fixed at twelve, the number of requisitionists required to call a special meeting fixed at ten, and the notice to be given of such meeting, which was reduced from ten to four days. The chief discussion took place upon the choice of rules under which the club should play. The chairman said the club had to choose between the genuine English game of football and the Victoria game, in which there was a large admixture of handball. The two styles were totally dissimilar, and the Victorian game was the roughest of the two. Captain Boddam moved that the English Association rules be adopted. The Victorian rules had been tried at home and discarded, being provocative of endless disputes. The Association game was easily learned, being comprised in but few rules, and it was a much more showy game than the Victorian, which was not football but more the handball played by girls at school. There was much more satisfaction in playing the Association game than the Victorian game, which was merely a succession of long drop kicks and runs with the ball. For himself he would prefer to play the Rugby rules but the rules were too numerous and intricate to be readily learned, besides demanding the highest physical training and stamina. Other local clubs may have adopted the Victorian rules, but nevertheless the Cricketers Club should make a stand, and try to have the Association rules uniformly accepted. Mr Smith, on seconding the resolution, expressed a preference for the Rugby game, which he had played in England, but as it comprised of some 60 rules it would be too elaborate to introduce here. The Association club should lead instead of being led in the matter of rules, and if a Football Association were to be formed, as was very desirable, it would only be right that it should play under the rules of the English body of that name. Mr T. Crisp moved an amendment that the Victorian rules be adopted. He said Tasmanian players were accustomed to similar rules, and the clubs which had adopted them would keep to them. The amendment was not seconded, and on the motion being put, it was carried by 10 votes to 9. Some doubt, however, existed as to the validity of the voting, as several High School pupils took part in it who had not been elected members of the club.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Das Libero: Soccer not Violent Enough?

Das Libero: Soccer not Violent Enough?:

It's counter-intuitive I know but the deep resentment displayed by some commentators towards soccer might well be because its violence is not violent enough. It is not 'real' violence. From the 'simulation' on the field to the 'performances' on the terrace, Aussie commentators find the lack of direct, personal, manly violence deeply troubling.

In the debates about the relative levels of violence between codes, soccer supporters often point to fights and bashings at AFL/Rugby League games. The latest kerfuffle about the moronic destruction of 170 seats at the Melbourne Derby is a case in point. Footy commentators outraged by the vandalism are blithe in their response to suggestions that their own game has some fairly violent moments.

Their response takes a number of forms: 1) outright rejection of the notion that violence occurs in footy crowds; 2) dismissal of the significance and frequency of such events; 3) the categorisation of such moments as 'organic', disorganised and unstructured; 4) the refusal to acknowledge a pattern. The response we rarely get but one which lies behind the first four is that the violence is at least authentic. Real passion (not the kind that animates the socceristas' flag waving, tifo tossing, bravado-ridden chants and mock challenges to other supporters) will sometimes result in isolated moments of brutality in footy crowds. But they are limited and manageable. (Indeed, this very interpretation was backed up a week after this article was written by footy commentator Baz Blakeney)

The following examples are from recent crowd trouble in AFL, with one from South Australian local footy. When footy commentators reject the idea of violence at the footy they are in effect ignoring the pattern and significance of such moments of thuggery. But the ultimate truth is I suspect that many don't really have any problem with what is happening because these examples are 'appropriate' expressions of limited and controllable passion.

1) The following image is of a man who was bashed in the lift at the St Kilda-Richmond match at Etihad stadium in June 2012. It's the kind of image that points to the existence of behaviour that many footy commentators refuse to acknowledge. The fact that it happened in a lift speaks unintentionally of the invisibility of footy violence.

2) The following image is of a Carlton supporter who was bashed by Collingwood supporters outside the MCG in April 2011. The victim had admonished a group of men who were abusing some older spectators and was "brutally attacked from behind leaving him with extensive injuries including a broken jaw, several smashed teeth and temporary blindness in his right eye."

3) At the Port Pirie A Grade Grand Final in September 2012, umpire Paul Fitzgerald was "bashed and seriously injured in front of thousands of spectators during an A-Grade grand final."

Paul Fitzgerald

4) Collingwood supporters are unfairly characterised by many as being 'feral' and unruly. This video footage is from a game at the MCG when some Collingwood supporters turned on each other suggests that occasionally that reputation may have been justly earned.


5) Demon's player Nathan Jones' father bashed outside the MCG in 2009.

There are many other examples that could be cited: the 12-year-old boy who was grabbed by the throat and abused by a grown man at the MCG in 2012; the woman who was punched in the face at the same venue two months earlier for having the temerity to ask a some supporters to tone down their language; the abuse from the crowd at Subiaco that led Geelong's Brian Cook to appeal for crowd control measures to be introduced; the 2007 brawl in the members at the MCG two weeks after a more extensive one at the same place; the Port Power fan left in a coma after his team played Collingwood in 2004. Forgive me for seeing a pattern here, while there will be many who still don't see it. 

That said, there are a hell of a lot of footy spectators who don't cause trouble, 10s of thousands in fact. And it would be a mistake to tar all footy supporters with the brush of their game's thuggish moments.

Back to the Melbourne Derby. One arrest (in a crowd of over 41,000) and 170 broken seats. It's a truly mad world when the following image can evoke the spluttering rage of the footy commentariat far more readily than all the above examples of footy violence combined. The photo does not indicate the aftermath of a riot as it has been described. The easy and relaxed attitude of all, including the security guard, is more suggestive of a post-pillow fight warm down. And this, in the end, is probably what annoys the tough-talking, violence-loving footy brigade most of all.

Monday 4 February 2013

Das Libero: Football Violence in Melbourne

Das Libero: Football Violence in Melbourne:

The first soccer match I went to at Docklands stadium was about 10 years ago, between South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights. A decent (12K or so) crowd turned up but the vast stadium looked empty. I had gone with a Southend-supporting pom whose thoughts on the game were predictable and dreary. Anyway, we went and stood with the noisy band of South Melbourne supporters who were making the best out of a bad lot at the northern end of the ground. Chants included "Ooh Aah Serbia!" to taunt the Croatian opposition supporters and their regular run of positive chants directed at their team.

At one point a supporter fell and broke a chair, at which point the song became "broken chair, broken chair, broken chair!" It was an accident; no-one was punished and no-one was blamed. We moved on.

On the weekend just gone a few more chairs were smashed at a soccer match at Docklands, around 170 and most of them were deliberately broken. Perhaps that's a measure of just how far soccer has come in Melbourne. I hope that flippant comment is taken as weary sarcasm because I am not condoning the stupidity of chair smashing. I wish people who do that deliberately would just leave the game, forever.

But, the double-standard and the hypocrisy of the Melbourne media never fails to astound me. The scales are not balanced. We know the pattern: 100s of cricket arrests and ejections: boys being boys; supporters bashed and hospitalised at the footy: one-on-one Aussie blokes being Aussie blokes; 1 soccer arrest + 170 broken seats: apocalyptic violence and threat to social fabric. 

Then again, why should I be astounded? Channel 7 has a stereotype of the dickheaded soccer supporter that it likes to portray and when the dickheaded supporter acts according to type . . . voila! Nor should it be forgotten that 7 is in the pocket of the AFL and is quite happy and quick to give negative headlines to a soccer fixture that is starting to become of of Melbourne's big-ticket sporting events. It's telling that Channel 9 mentioned nothing of the damaged seats and preferred to go the wholly positive route.

The Melbourne/Channel 7 stereotype runs: Footy is a violent game, but one where all the violence happens on the field; spectators co-mingle in sweetness and light sharing sandwiches and thermoses of tea. Soccer is a game where so little happens on the field that the passions erupt off it. Given that the game is largely supported by wogs then it's no surprise that violence occurs. The only surprise is that there aren't more knives being used.

It's a nonsense; but it is a nonsense that has nonetheless taken root in the belief system of a city. It's hard not to see it as a product of the xenophobic resentment of foreigners following the arrival of European migrants in the post-war period. Prior to that soccer received plenty of negative press but little of it pertained to perceived spectator violence.

Looking at the history of spectator sporting violence in this city, far more brutal and terrifying events have occurred at cricket and Australian rules football. Even in recent years footy has kept up with many ugly incidents. Soccer has had its moments as well, to be sure, but they pale into insignificance by comparison.

It is of some interest to ponder two things: 1) how soccer rose to be seen as the code of spectator violence, even as more severe violence was occurring elsewhere and 2) how the real history of footy spectator violence faded into the mists of time as if it never, ever happened, thereby allowing present day footy spectator bashings to take on the character of isolated events without a pattern, a context or a history .

This is from 1948, reported in, of all places, the Charters Towers paper, The Northern Miner:

Football Violence

Brawls in Melbourne


Three brawls occurred during a football match between Port Melbourne and   Williamstown at Port Melbourne today.
Foot and mounted police escorted the umpire from the ground after the match. Two of the brawls. were between players, and one between spectators.
Just before the interval rough play developed into a free-for-all, involving nearly half the players. Trainers and a boundary umpire broke it up, while the remaining players continued the game. Another ugly scene followed a collision between two players. An umpire intervened.

At the same time, some of the spectators began to fight They were quelled by police. Other examples of violence at Melbourne football in the past month have been:  
On April 17, detectives were bashed by a mob of 200 outside South Melbourne Cricket Ground. 
On April 24, police with batons, and a mounted constable, had to intervene to break up a brawl which developed in the outer ground during the last minutes of the Carlton-Fitzroy Victorian Football League game.  

On May 1. after Preston had beaten Prahran at the Australian Rules Association match at Prahran, police with batons had to protect Umpire J. Egan from 300 angry Prahran barrackers.