I came across Mullen’s Australasian Footballers’ Almanac during a tidy-up of my footy bookshelf. It was part of a collection of treasures given to me by my cousin Gil Farmer a couple of years ago.
Gil was making room on his shelves and I was happy to take possession of copies of Ross Elliot’s West Australian Football Register dating back to 1962; numerous ABC Cricket Books; a copy of The Charlie Mitchell Football Book; the WANFL’s Constitution, Rules, Regulations, Laws of the Game. 1934. And, of course, the Almanac.
Compiled by CC Mullen is an interesting mix of bits and pieces. Seven pages are devoted to football identities who died in 1949-50. There are lots of records, with a curious attention to gate takings – for example on Saturday 29 August at the MCCG (sic) 53,994 saw Essendon beat Melbourne bringing in 2,845 pounds, nine shillings and sixpence while over at the SMCG South Melbourne defeated Hawthorn and the gatekeepers counted up just 90 pounds and sixpence.
There are reports on the Australasian game in (in order) South Australian, Western Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, NSW, Queensland, America, England, Scotland, South Africa and France.
There are also some editorials: Footballers Should Be Paid More is one while League Matches Should Not Start Early begins provocatively: “A few years ago the Victorian Football League gave way to a few noisy Trade Union leaders and Trades Hall officials, who urged football matches being started at 2.15 so as to enable tramway and railway employees to finish their shifts before tea.”
However, perhaps the most poignant bit of editorialising in my copy of the Almanac is written in blue pen on the front page. The word Australasian is crossed out and replaced with VICTORIAN of COURSE. There’s always been a gentle dislike of Vics among some WA footy followers and maybe young Gil or his dad King were reacting to the few paragraphs afforded Western Australian football that end with: “Although West Australia was the last colony to adopt Australian rules football the game has developed more rapidly there during the last 50 years than in any other part of Australia, except, of course, in Victoria.”
Footynote: The Almanac of 1950 contains a section on the Champions of the Colony. According to Mullen this award to Victoria’s best footballer came about as a consensus of the club captains in the early years and the tradition was continued by “leading writers and critics”. According to researcher Ross Smith the Champion of the Colony is an invention of CC Mullen and was never actually awarded.
So a Football Almanac where people make things up… it seems we’re part of a great tradition.
Les Everett edits http://www.australianrules.com.au