Almanac Literary: Political Football – The Radical Legacy of the Anti-Apartheid Protests in Brisbane



Catching up with early morning news on the The Age website I was drawn to a couple of articles about Neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing white supremacist organisations, and I could not help but shake my head.


I remembered back to summer of 1960/61 when the West Indies cricket team toured Australia and brought such joy to cricket lovers with the way they played the game. Skin colour had nothing to do with it, they were all cricketers playing cricket. I developed a great admiration for the dark-skinned cricketers from the West Indies.


Forward a few years to 1968 and Basil D’Olivera, the coloured South African born cricketer who had emigrated to the UK in 1960. Under pressure from the apartheid South African government, the MCC did not select D’Olivera for the 68/69 tour of South Africa leading to an uproar from the cricketing community and the banishment of the country from international cricket for many years. My awakening social conscious was beginning to be activated.



Forward again, this time to 1971, and the Springbok Rugby Tour to Australia. This tour created a huge backlash with the anti-apartheid movement determined to disrupt and stop the games being played. Clashes with police, and outrageous claims by politicians such Joh Bjelke Peterson only inflamed the situation.  I was supportive of the demonstrators, and could not understand how the colour of a person’s skin affected their position and role in a society. That was completely wrong to me, no matter the colour of the skin we are all born equal.


The reporting of the press during the demonstrations reflected their conservative right-wing bias with their support for the government and their actions in their endeavours to suppress the anti-apartheid movement. It hit home to me the power of the press and their ability to manipulate events.


I find it extremely difficult to comprehend there are still people in our world who cannot accept people for who and what they are, whether it be the colour of their skin, religion, gender, or politics. Where have we gone wrong?




As part of  the Brisbane Writers Festival, two on-line events in the program, Political Football The Radical Legacy of the Anti-Apartheid Protests in Brisbane were held and are now available for viewing. The panel discussions surrounding these events will be of appeal to people interested in the era of the anti-apartheid movement particularly those events which occurred in Brisbane.


Panel 1: Protest! Political Football – with Prof. Deborah Terry AO, Matt Foley, Anthony Abrahams AM, Dr Valerie Cooms, Dan O’Neill, and Dr Anne Richards can be viewed below.



Panel 2: Political Legacy – with Prof Julianne Schultz AM FAHA, Robert Atkinson AO APM, The Hon Roslyn Atkinson AO, Prof Raymond Evans, and Samuel Woripa Watson can be viewed below.




Read Glen D’s account of the Victoria v Springboks match in 1971 HERE


More from the Brisbane Writers Festival can be found HERE



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  1. 1971 was certainly a year to show your dislike of the apartheid regime, and its sporting teams.


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