Book Review: Football for Boys

Book: Football for Boys

Author: Alan Scott

Publisher: Golden Press, Potts Point, 1971

Reviewer: Vin Maskell

The perfect drop-kick

I probably think of Essendon’s Barry Davis more than I think of any other footballer. I think of him every day, when I glance up at the 1971 book Football for Boys, which has pride of place on the bookshelf in the study, just ahead of Chronicles by Bob Dylan and The Gloves of Irony by Rod Marsh.

There is Davis, in full colour on the cover, in a classic pose – just coming back to earth at the end of a follow-through from a drop-kick. His right leg is high and parallel to the ground, his right foot (in a groovy new Adidas boot) still pointing slightly skyward. His left foot is just off the ground. The right arm and hand are pointing straight down, the fingers close together. His left arm is at about 45 degrees, the fingers of his hand splayed a little.

His head, topped by that neat ginger hair, is steady and his eyes are watching the flight of his perfectly executed drop-kick.

It’s an image that has stayed with me for many a year, probably a stronger image than what I would have seen of Davis on black and white television replays in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I barracked for Essendon from afar. (Well, from Geelong.)

Inside Football for Boys there is a ‘magic eye’ sequence of black and white photographs of Davis, showing the seven stages of the drop kick. The pictures culminate in him being quite airborne, with his left leg tucked behind his left buttock and his right leg stretched to its fullest. Grace, balance, power: they are all there.

The book features other stars of the time, including players who had had bigger reputations than the Essendon half-back-flanker: Ted Whitten, Peter McKenna, Ian Stewart, Barry Cable, and Peter Hudson.

But of all of them, Davis was chosen to be on the cover.

So I think of Barry Davis every day when I go into the study. And I think of him every Sunday morning when I go to kick-to-kick.

Football for Boys (it’s unlikely there was also a Football for Girls back then) was written by one Alan Scott, who describes himself as a schoolmaster, a ‘teacher of football’ rather than as a coach. I had taken no notice of the name of the author of this text book until 2004, when Mark Williams made his less than gracious reference to Port Adelaide sponsor, transport magnate Alan Scott. You may recall that with the premiership won, Williams said, ‘Alan Scott, you were wrong!’, a response to Scott’s belief that the Power could not win a flag with Williams at the helm.

I presume these Alan Scotts are different men. Alan Scott, the author, was right about many things – the techniques of how to play football nearly 40 years ago – but in hindsight we can see that he was wrong too, for the drop kick (and the torpedo and the stab pass) have had their day.

All we have left is a book found in an opp-shop, with a picture of Barry Davis on the cover.

This piece first ran on australianrules.com.au in 2007

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back’s not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards – the older the better.

Comments

  1. Cate Scott says:

    Alan Scott, the author of this book, is my father and nephew of the late Kenneth Gordon McIntyre, mathematician and historian.
    He is not the transport magnate.

  2. johnharms says:

    Cate, We would love to hear more about Kenneth. Gideon Haigh speaks very highly of him. JTH

  3. Cate, thank you for the clarification about Alan Scott, your father and Alan Scott, the transport magnate. Much appreciated. Regards, Vin Maskell

  4. Jim Johnson says:

    I have owned Alan Scott’s two remarkable books on Australian Rules Football for a few years and have once again I looked at Alan Scotts mention of the Drop Punt on page 5 of “a Manual of Australian Football” and page 10 of “Football For Boys”. The same paragraph, “The Drop Punt is a most useful kick— especially on wet days—and once you have mastered the fundamentals you will find that by slight variations you will be able to use it for almost all purposes— from short passing to goal- kicking.,” is in both books. These books date from1963. I perfected the drop kick into my “drop punt as a field pass” at age 14 years in 1948 and I perfected the stab kick into my stab punt at 15 years of age in 1949. I kicked all distances with these two kicks not just in wet or bad conditions but in all every day conditions. That is for almost every kick for eleven seasons of open age 1st Eighteen Football, 1949 to 1960. For a history of these kicks from 1900 to 1960 see “The First Drop Punt? Recent research from a kick historian”, as published in The Footy Almanac.

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