An open letter to Tom Wills

Dear Tom,


This letter comes to you from an ordinary cricketer and even worse footballer. However I just wanted to update you with how the game you initiated has changed since you left us.

Football is a fast-moving, fast-scoring game that now keeps the nation entranced for much of the year. Watched and played by millions every winter weekend and now worth billions of dollars, what is now known as AFL has developed a long way from the game to keep cricketers fit over winter but I guess you knew it always would after such a popular start.

What you may not have foreseen is how the game still carries your spirit of equality and crosses the many social, demographic and racial boundaries of this wonderful nation. As a wealthy, free nation, Australia is a country your ambitious father would hopefully be proud of.

We still have a long way to go to reconcile black and white Australia but on the 150th anniversary of the formation your aboriginal cricket team the people of western Victoria still acknowledge you as a good man. I know this as a farmer in the region, not that far from where you spent your early years.

Many still wonder how you created and nurtured the team after what happened at Cullinlaringo just five years prior.

Tom, you tragically left us at just 44 years of age, having lived an extraordinary life that stretched across many worlds. You have left an enormous legacy for this country and you are finally getting the recognition you deserve including at the Melbourne and Geelong clubs you helped form.

Together with a few mates at the Footy Almanac we are asking football and cricket lovers to help renovate your simple grave that has now fallen into disrepair.

I hope you don’t mind, we have the permission of your family and in doing so we aim to raise the profile of who you were, what you created for us and how far we have come.


Yours sincerely

Marius Cuming

Kent Park

Croxton East


  1. Tony Michael says

    I have visited Tom Wills grave in the Warringal Cemetery and concur that it is desperately in need of restoration. It was originally provided by public subscription as it is once again by crowd funding. Considering the millions of dollars generated by the AFL I wonder why the AFL HQ do not fund this project?

    Also, what about the same treatment for Tom’s cousin HCA Harrison buried in the Boroondara Cemetery in High St, Kew? Other than his name on the grave there is no public awareness of who is buried there, at the least there should be a plaque to inform people. Without Wills and Harrison there would be no AFL today.

    Harrison’s cousin, champion cricketer Tom Wills, founded Australian rules football in 1859, and within a year, Harrison joined him in promoting the new code. Harrison and Wills were the only pioneer figures to be inaugural inductees of the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

    – See more at:

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