This Game of Ours

I’m a tightarse. I don’t know the difference between price and value. This probably explains why most Saturday mornings I’ll be frittering away up to an hour flitting between the swag of op-shops that line Centre Road, Bentleigh VIC 3204. Unlike U2, I still don’t know what I’m looking for, let alone haven’t found it yet.

My best find was a handful of Coodabeens cassettes from the 80s for a $1 a pop. I still reckon that the tape hiss adds to the auditory experience, but it is usually books that I’m on the lookout for.

Ross Fitzgerald’s ‘The Footy Club – Inside the Brisbane Bears’ was a sub $1 find one week and I snapped up his co-edited ‘The Greatest Game’ for a fiver soon after (I really should read that in full one day).

I’m now the full bottle on Australian Rules Finals, at least as far as Graeme Atkinson’s 1983 edition can inform me and my Rothman’s Book of Test Matches England v Australia 1946 – 1963 cost me way less than the 23/- pencilled inside its pop art cover.

Chappelli, Lambs to the Slaughter and Sobers’ King Cricket are just some of the others that I’ve smuggled upstairs and tucked away in the rickety (wickety?) wall of Ikea Billy shelving behind me.

Late last year, as I scanned the spines of the Salvos store sports section, I spied the words “This Game of Ours. Supporters’ Tales of the People’s Game”.

There was no helpful red leather logo or anything else that hinted at its contents. It wasn’t a title that I was aware of. Anyway, I flicked it out from between How to Tame Lou Richards’ Laughing Chooks and The Footballer Who Spewed and this is what I saw, all mine for $2.



It appears that a confluence of fans, fantasy football, whimsy and academia led inexorably to this, a compilation of footy fan writing, leavened with some professionally published stab-passes, a precursor to the Footy Almanac.

The next few pages give us some insight into the book, which was conceived as a once-off fund raiser by a fantasy football league.

who we are 1


who we are 2




The names Connolly, Hinds, Daffey, Mick Thomas, Jim Bob Young and Morrissey (James, not Steven) within, lend a distinctly 1993 Melbourne flavour, although at least a couple of these names will appear in my distinctly 2016 Twitter timeline tonight, perhaps with some fruitier language than appeared in their pre-internet media offerings.

contents 1

contents 2

I recently got wind of this site which, I am ashamed to admit, I hadn’t come across before. Anyone interested in footy and the written word should make its acquaintance.

The site’s editor Tim Hogan has described This Game of Ours thus:

“This anthology is a collection of 56 pieces, in 6 chapters, with no clearly identifiable themes. The preface states that the aim of the authors was to capture people’s favourite thoughts, recollections, opinions and feelings on football. Topics range from schoolboy footy exploits, to tomes on the superiority of Australian Rules football, especially AFL, over all other forms of football and sport. One piece documents a new migrant’s impressions of the 1966 VFL premiership season of St Kilda, while several others lament the passing of the grassroots football experience of the VFL. Pieces are varied in style, many are humorous or whimsical in tone and poetry and cartoons are included in this eclectic volume. Most items are from a Victorian perspective, with a couple of ‘top end’ Northern Territory pieces and one ‘crow-eaters’ take on Victorian football. This volume also includes a controversial piece on ‘Marn Grook – Original Australian Rules footy’ and an imagined commentary on the 2003 AFL Grand Final which describes Brisbane captain Nathan Buckley leading his team against the West Coast Eagles.”

I found myself asking myself about the contributors to this book, almost none of whom have graced the Almanac.

If my research is correct, Herbert Schlegel passed away in 1996, around the age of 35. I don’t recall sighting Peter Burke or Leo Grogan in the Almanac, but I may have missed them. And the others? Do they still write about footy (or anything else) in some parallel prosal universe?

Drop us a comment if you know more about any of them, or indeed, if you are one of the contributors to this important but little known volume of footy writing.


About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    These comments have been recovered.

    Peter Warrington:
    superb titles. pass it round when you finish…

    John Harms:
    Swish, I had never heard of it until last year either. I can’t remember Daff mentioning it. Looks really interesting. With some now very prominent writers probably at that time in short (ish) pants: Daff, Tommy Hanlon, R.Hinds, Will Brodie, Rohan, Nick Place, Chris McConville, Bruce Pascoe et al. I wonder if one of those guys can shed any light on its gestation and life. And how it was received. And whether there are copies in a garage somewhere? On its gestation, it has all the signs of a pissy night in the Napier or the Rose or the North Fitzroy Arms about it: “We should do a book.”

    Dave Nadel:
    Peter Burke is a noted football scholar. He wrote a PhD on workplace football and industrial leagues and is an expert on the subject. He works at RMIT and was convenor of the Victorian chapter the Australian Society for Sports History (ASSH) for many years.

    When I met Peter a few years after the publication of This Game of Ours at an ASSH meeting, I had actually forgotten that I had reviewed a book that he had edited. Which was embarrassing, given how much I had liked the book.

    This book included one of the earliest outlines of Marn Grook and the claim that Marn Grook was the ancestor of Australian Rules. At the time Burke and Grogan published Jim Poulter’s article Marn Grook was virtually unheard of outside the Koori community. In the next fifteen years the debate over the place of Marn Grook in the development of Australian Rules grew into a major “History War.”

    As I suggested in the review that Swish linked to above, this book, despite its unevenness was an important contribution to the debate about the development of the game, which was at its most emotional during the 90s. Because the book was seen as a fund raiser rather than a deliberate attempt to contribute to the debate it was not heavily promoted or reviewed and did not receive the attention it deserved. Thanks for drawing attention to it after all these years, Swish.

    Peter Clark:
    The State Library of Victoria has a copy of This Game of Ours by the EATWARFLEMSD mob according to a search on Trove. Several other Victorian libraries also.

    I would love to read the Roy and hg chapter
    Sending an oyster south conjures up so many potential pictorial pleasures I’m not sure which way they would head

    Mickey Randall:
    Another gem Swish. Gee, is there a home in this country (or any really) without a product from Ikea’s Billy range? I love that they have items called Korken and Risatorp and then Billy. Of course it’s unlikely to be true, but someone once told me that 7 in every 10 Europeans are now conceived in an Ikea bed. Think of all those discarded allen keys.

    Nice work on the cheap Coodabeen cassettes too. Agree about the tape hiss.

    Adam Muyt:
    Picked my copy up at Carlton’s ‘Book Affair’, my favourite second hand shop in the world, around 1995. A true oddity in some ways, but I loved it then and still love it today. Alas, Book Affair has left us, as has so much of the culture described in the book. Footy, life and second-hand book shopping are each, and all, rapidly changing.

    Allan Lindsay:
    I knew a Herbert Schlegel at uni and I assume this is the same person who is listed as “Commissioner”. He would have been born in 1961 and I’m really sorry to learn that he passed away so young. That’s tragic. He was studying economics at Monash Uni in 1980 when I knew him. He was from St. Andrews and was a keen footballer and cricketer.

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