When records barely existed
It's always exciting to see another of our really good football books hit the shelves, so to speak, and our latest is now available.
Peter Kunz's Chronicles of Soccer in Australia - the Foundation Years 1859 to 1949 is an incredible read.
In the opening chapters he notes that a report of “a grand football match” was reported in the Hobart press to take place on 18 March 1859 at Richmond, Tasmania, with the number of players selected meaning that it was “almost certain to have been advance publicity for a soccer match”.
This is just one example of the extraordinary detail in the book which has involved 12 years of research through national archives and liaison and fact-checking with other sports historians.
Other revelations include:
the use of carrier pigeons to convey half- and full-time scores by the Coledale club (really!);
that organised soccer stopped in most areas of the country during World War I as so many players responded to the call to arms;
one of the first mentions of women’s soccer being played in Australia was near Toowoomba in 1917; and
the influence of the Chinese community in the development of the game in Darwin.
Peter says the issue of early matches will always be arguable because the rules of soccer were very fluid at that time internationally. That was probably even more so in Australia as the latest rules would have taken time to get here and then to be adopted.
The book also sheds light on the mores and attitudes of Australia and its people in the latter half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century.
Whether you're a professional or 'amateur' historian, if you're interested in the history of our game in this country, you won't want to miss out.