Tom Wills Bibliography


Thomas Wentworth Wills

Books / Magazines / Articles / Memorabilia

Compiled by Johnhenry Holmes (and posted thanks to Paddy Grindlay)


If you have any material to add to this bibliography please send it via to Johnhenry Holmes: [email protected]
Or contact John  Harms:  [email protected]



The Story of an Athlete (A Picture of the Past)

H.C.A.Harrison (The Father of the Australian Game of Football)

Alexander McCubbin, 9 Queen St, Melbourne, 1923, pictorial wrappers, 1st edition, 135pp, pictorial illustrations.

Being the autobiography of H.C.A. Harrison, this publication was reproduced in 1987 by Anne Mancini & Gillian Hibbins under the title of – Running with the Ball.


Running with the Ball

A.Mancini & G.M.Hibbibns (Editors)

Lynedoch Publications, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, 1987, hardcover, dustjacket. thus. VII, + 200pp, b/white illustrations throughout, gilt-titled spine.

From the jacket flap: “In the early 1860s, H.C.A. (Henry Colden Antill) Harrison not only ‘ran with the ball’ in Melbourne football games but, more importantly, in the way he seized the opportunity to foster a sport which others had just begun … Harrison’s tales of this stirring era have been augmented by a carefully researched study of the very beginning of football in Melbourne and by an account of his family, reaching back into convict Australia.


A Game of Our Own

Geoffrey Blainey

Information Australia, Melbourne, 1990. Hardcover, dust jacket, 1st edition, 111pp, pictorial sepia illustrated dustjacket, green papered boards with gilt text to spine, grey endpapers, b/w illustrated, foreword by E W Biggs, preface by author, black & white plates & text illustrations, full page sepia illustrations, appendix, index.

Melbourne was one of the first cities in the world to fall in love with spectator sports, and the new code of football played in Victoria soon attracted larger crowds than those in London and Manchester or any city of Europe at that time.


The Call

Martin Flanagan

Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, Sydney, 1998. Illustrated wrappers, 1st edition, 181pp.

Thomas Wentworth Wills grew up among the Djabwurrung people in Western Victoria. He was sent to Rugby School in England in 1856, he returned and revolutionized colonial cricket and opened the door for the evolution of what we now know as Australian Rules Football. In 1866 he coached the Aboriginal cricket team the first to tour England despite being involved in the frontier wars between white settlers and the indigenous inhabitants. He died a neglected and forgotten character. A novel part fiction, part history.


The Call (adapted by Bruce Myles)

Martin Flanagan

A realisation for the Stage by Bruce Myles.

The Call was first produced by Playbox Theatre, in association with Melbourne International Arts Festival, at The C.U.B. Malthouse, Melbourne, on 16 October 2004 with the following cast:

Tom Wills – Jeremy Stanford, Horatio – Glenn Shea, Elizabeth Wills – Tammy Anderson, Sally Wills – Alexandra Schepsi, The Dancer – Earle Rosas.

Director – Bruce Myles, Choreographer – Marilyn Miller, Designer – Darryl Cordell, Lighting Designer – Rachel Burke, Composition – David Chisholm.


Tom Wills – His Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall

Greg De Moore

Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, Sydney, 2008. 8vo. Coloured illustrated wrappers, 336pp, black & white illustrations. Epilogue, afterword, endnotes, picture credits, selected bibliography, acknowledgements, index.

This is the story of Tom Wills – flawed genius, sporting libertine, fearless leader and agitator, and the man most often credited with creating the game we now know as Australian Rules Football. Tom Wills, charmer, scoundrel, visionary sportsman – A Great Australian Story.


The Currency Lad

T.S.Wills Cooke

Digby 1997. Illustrated wrapper, 351pp. Family tree, notes, appendix, bibliography.

A biography of Horatio Spencer Howe Wills and the story of his immediate family. Using contemporary letters, documents, daguerreotypes, paintings and photographs.


Sporting and Racing in Colonial Melbourne

The Cousins and Me: Colden Harrison, Tom Wills and William Hammersley.

Gillian Hibbins

Lynedoch Melbourne 2007, 1st edition, hardback with dust jacket, black & white plates, bibliography, index, limited to 500 copies.

Being reminiscences of colonial sporting life in Melbourne 1856-1883 and biographies of Colden Harrison, Tom Wills and William Hammersley as if written by William Hammersley (1826-1886) and included within a prologue, epilogue and two appendices by Gillian Hibbins.



A National Game – The History of Australian Rules Football

Rob Hess, Matthew Nicholson, Bob Stewart and Gregory De Moore

Viking Australia, 2008. Hardcover, illustrated dust wrapper, 464pp, black and white and colour illustrations, foreword, introduction, epilogue, notes, bibliography, acknowledgements, index.

A National Game – The History of Australian Rules Football traces the development of the game from its beginnings through turbulent, challenging and exciting times to its consolidation as the magnificent and awe-inspiring game that it is today.


The Paddock that GrewThe Story of the Melbourne Cricket Club.

Keith Dunstan – Research by Hugh Field

Cassell, London 1962, 1st edition. Decorated cloth, illustrated dust wrapper, pp. XVI, 304pp, acknowledgements, foreword, introduction, appendices, index.

This history of Victoria’s oldest club. When it began in 1838 it was nothing more than a muddy village, three years old and Robert Russell, the first surveyor and architect, was a foundation member.

Mainly concerned with cricket but also covering Australian Rules Football and the 1956 Olympic Games.



Cullin-La- Ringo – The Triumph and Tragedy of Tommy Wills

Les Perrin

Published privately in Australia 1998, 1st edition, illustrated wrappers, 166pp, authors note, foreword, maps, bibliography.

Biography of Thomas Wentworth Wills, notable cricketer, a leading figure in the foundation of Australian Rules football and a member of a famous pioneering family. Describes the 1861 massacre at Cullin-la Ringo Station in central Queensland, from which Wills narrowly escaped and various other experiences related to droving.


Wills Way

Russell H. T. Stephens

Playwright Publishing, Caringbah, N.S.W. 2009.

290pp, illustrations, maps, portraits.

Wills Way: three generations of the Wills family that produced a new game, Australian Football, and changed society forever.


100 Years of Australian Football

Geoffrey Blainey, Damien Cash, Noel Delbridge, Keith Dunstan, Martin Flanagan, Harry Gordon, Gillian Hibbins, Russell Holmesby, Col Hutchinson, Garrie Hutchinson, Garry Linnell, Ross McMullin, Stuart MacIntyre, Robert Pascoe, Michael Roberts, John Ross, Geoff Slattery and Robert Walls

Viking – Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood, Victoria, 1996.

The complete story of the AFL, all the big stories, all the great pictures, all the champions. Every AFL season reported. Each season with key statistics, highlights, articles, memorabilia, photographs and illustrations, numerous colour and black & white photographs, illustrations throughout. Introduction by Ross Oakley, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Football League. Bibliography, index, with blank page titled “Autographs” at rear.


The Clubs – The Complete History of Every Club in the VFL / AFL

Garrie Hutchinson and John Ross editors

Viking Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 1998, 1st edition, 396pp, colour frontispiece, foreword, profuse colour illustrations throughout, index.

This copiously illustrated history of all the clubs in the Australian Football League and the former Victorian Football League is arranged alphabetically. Provides information about notable players and matches, the origin of club colours and interesting events, giving an overview of the history of Australian Rules Football. Includes statistics, a bibliography and an index. The contributors are football writers and historians. Hutchinson is the author of ‘The Barracker’s Bible’ and Ross is editor in chief of ‘100 Years of Australian Football’.


Sharing Heritage in Kulin Country – Lessons in Reconciliation from our First Contact History

Jim Poulter

Red Hen, Melbourne, 2011, soft cover, 1st edition. 117pp, foreword, appendices, index.

Poulter’s family settled in the Yarra Valley in 1840. His great-grandfather, Tom Chivers spent his life immersed in Aboriginal lifestyle. He attended the last intertribal corroboree held at Warrandyte in 1852 when the last tribal football game of Marngrook was played. By exploring the rules of Marngrook and with information provided by elders, Jim has been able to reconstruct the original skin totem system that applied across Australia.


Marngrook – The Long-Ago Story of Aussie Rules

Titta Secombe and Grace Fielding

Magabala Books 2012, 1st edition, illustrated wrappers, 22pp, coloured illustrations.

This is a tale of Marngrook, the Aboriginal ball game from North West Victoria that inspired the birth of Aussie Rules.


The Last Quarter – A Trilogy

Martin Flanagan

One Day Hill, 2008. Illustrated softcover, 1st edition, 550pp.


(1) Southern Sky, Western Oval.

(2) The Game in the Time of War.

(3) Tom Wills: Confessions of a Ghost Writer.

An essay about the controversy that marked the AFL’s 150th year and Flanagan’s part in it.


Lords’ Dreaming – The Story of the 1868 Aboriginal Tour of England and Beyond

Ashley Mallett

London: Souvenir Press, 2002, 1st edition, hardback, dust wrapper, XIII, 221pp. 16pp plates, acknowledgements, introduction, notes, bibliography, index, original black cloth, dust wrapper.

This is the fascinating story of how a team of unknown Aborigines became famous as the first Australian cricket team to tour England in 1868. The legendary Tom Wills was their inaugural coach but after a disastrous Australian tour, which led to the deaths of three players ex- Surrey and England cricketer Charles Lawrence took over.


Cricket Walkabout – The Aboriginal Cricketers of the 1860s

Rex Harcourt and John Mulvaney

Golden Point Press, Blackburn South, VIC, Australia, 2005, hard cover, dust wrapper, preface, foreword, black and white illustrations, appendices, maps, acknowledgements, index, 95pp.

This is perhaps Australia’s most important cricket books as it relates to Aboriginals taking up cricket in the 1850s, the subsequent development of an Aboriginal XI coached by Tom Wills and eventually the Aboriginal side that toured England in 1868, 10 years before an All-Australian (white) side had done that.


The Australian Game of Football Since 1858

Geoff Slattery Publishing, Docklands, Victoria, 2008, hard cover, dust jacket, 1st edition, printed endpapers, foreword by Kevin Sheedy, several contributors, numerous colour and black & white photographs & illustrations throughout, includes glossary of terms, rules of the game, index, plus author biographies. Contents in five sections: From the Beginning; The Game; The Passion; Outside the Fence; The Decades. From rear panel of dustjacket: “The Australian Game of Football celebrates the 150th anniversary of Australia’s only indigenous game and covers every aspect of the game – its haphazard beginnings, the passion of its founders, its heroes, those who managed and influenced it over generations, the coaches and tacticians, its relations with indigenous Australians, the huge role of women, the media, and it’s amazing and constant growth from a suburban game to a national phenomenon. The book has hundreds of dramatic photos and illustrations, and covers each of the 15 decades of the life of the game in minute detail”.


Australian Rules Football – An Illustrated History     

An illustrated history of Australian Rules Football to the early 1970s.

Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1974, hardcover, dust jacket, first edition, VII, 176 pages and statistics. Red coloured endpapers. The text is illustrated with numerous black-and-white photographs and statistics. Green coloured cloth boards with gilt titles to the back strip, illustrated dust wrapper against a green background with white titles to the front panel and back strip.


More Than a Game

Rob Hess and Bob Stewart

Illustrated with black and white photographs and drawings, XVI, 304pp, errata slip loosely inserted.

Australian Rules football is more than a game it is a way of life for players, club officials, league administrators and, above all, for its millions of loyal fans around the country. Footy fever and footy talk are an essential part of Australian life. Since its beginnings in Melbourne in the 1850s as an amateur sport played among the gum trees, it has developed into a dazzling, fast-moving, high-scoring spectacle and a sophisticated national enterprise. This intriguing account of Australian footy explores – the behind-the-scenes struggles for control of the game, the friction sparked by the rise of professionalism, the battles between clubs, players and administrators for a share of the takings, the unique role and influence of female spectators in the history of the game, the spread of the code to foreign territory including New South Wales and New Zealand, the campaigns by Melbourne’s fiercely loyal football tribes to defend their clubs against mergers, relocation and the introduction of a national competition. Introduced by top Age sportswriter and columnist Martin Flanagan, this book tells the true story of Australian Rules football.


The Temple Down the Road – The Life and Times of the MCG

Brian Matthews

Viking, Camberwell, Victoria, 2003. Hardcover, dust jacket, first edition, 326pp, includes bibliography, photographic credits and index, with photographic end pages and numerous full-page black-and-white photographs throughout the text, photographic illustrated dust jacket.

This book is the author’s idiosyncratic and lateral evocation of the Melbourne Cricket Ground down the years and an anatomy of its place in the hearts and imaginations of Australians.

“On a cold, foggy Melbourne night, Tom Wills – one of the architects of Australian Rules football and a pivotal figure in the history of the MCG – makes a ghostly return to the famous ground. Like a magic circus-master, he stands in the centre circle and conjures up the resonant past and the celebrated figures and events that have made the ‘G’ such a compelling presence in the city.”


An Australian Game of Football

J.McHale, A.E. Chadwick and E.C.H. Taylor

100 years of football: the story of the Melbourne Football Club 1858-1958 – written and edited by E. C. H. Taylor; research by Hugh Field; photographs arranged by David Walker.


On the Boundary Line: Colonial Identity in Football

Barry Judd

The Australian Football League (AFL) has positioned itself as the national sporting brand mostly closely associated with the process of reconciliation and the non-tolerance of racism in sport. The AFL was the first professional sporting body in Australia to combat on-field racism by adopting its Anti-Racial and Religious Vilification Laws in 1995. At the same time the AFL also became a strong public voice for reconciliation through events such as the annual Dreamtime at the G match, recognition of an Indigenous Team of the Century and a tacit acknowledgement of Marngrook as one precursor to the contemporary game. Coinciding with the political dominance of the Howard government (1996-2007), AFL advocacy of Indigenous issues made it the most important national institution in promoting a contemporary Australia inclusive of Indigenous people.



AFL Record

AFL Tom Wills Round

Round 19, August 8 – 10, 2008.

Celebrating 150 Years of Australian Football.

A tribute to Tom Wills, the game’s pioneer.


The Yorker

Journal of the Melbourne Club Library

Issue 39, Autumn 2009.

Commemorative Edition.

“A Code of Our Own”.

Celebrating 150 Years of the Rules of Australian Football.

By Gillian Hibbins and Trevor Ruddell.


Great Scot

The Scotch Family Magazine.

No. 100 September 2001.

The Tom Wills Sculpture unveiled at the MCG.



Aboriginal Cricket Tour of England 1988

Australian team to tour England, the Aboriginal team of 1868 and of a reminder of the outstanding achievements of the first the dedication and ability of our contemporary Aboriginal community.


The Yorker

Journal of the Melbourne Club Library

Issue 39, Autumn 2009.

Commemorative Edition.

1942: – The Secret MCG Sport & War.

Evolution of Football Rules 1872-1877.


The First Eleven

Immigration Museum.

8 December 2005 – 25 March 2006.

Aboriginal cricketers ahead of their time.

Tri-fold brochure.


The Yorker

Journal of the Melbourne Club Library

Issue 61, Summer 2016/17.

First Australian XI.

The Cricketer – Pakistan.

Max Walker remembered.

Cricket in Port Phillip before 1851.

Team Australia in Red China.


The First Football Matches on the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Alf Batchelder



Australian Football

A Quarterly Journal of Essays, Ideas, Commentary and Illustrations.

The Spirit of Football.

Martin Flanagan article on Tom Wills


Boomerang and Bat

The Story of the Real First Eleven

Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton

In 1868, a determined team of Aboriginal cricketers set off on a journey across the world to take on England best. Led by star all-rounder Johnny Mullagh and wearing caps embroidered with a boomerang…


Australia Post

150 Years of Australian Football

A commemorative stamp issue depicting Australian Football players 150 years ago. Enclosed are 10x 50c stamps depicting an early game of Australian Football.


 Australia Post

150 Years of Australian Football

First Day Cover


First Day Cover 29 July 2008

150 Years of Australian Football

The Perth Mint struck a commemorative $1 coin from aluminium bronze in brilliant uncirculated quality.

The coin’s reverse depicts four players in a high marking contest and the Australian Football 150 Years logo, as well as the inscription AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL 1858-2008.

The team was coached by Tom Wills.


First Day Cover 10 July 1983

125th anniversary of Australian Rules Football 1858-1983.

Depicting an image of Tom Wills – the founder of Australian Rules Football.

The names of the All-Australian side selected in the 125th anniversary year of Australian Rules Football.


First Day Cover 1 June 2006

Geelong Football Club.

Player of the Pioneer Era (1859-1896).

Thomas Wills


First Day Cover 23 September 2003

Melbourne Cricket Ground

150th Anniversary

1866: An Aboriginal team under T.W. Wills stand outside the MCG Pavilion, which played a MCC team on the 26th and 27th December before 11,000 spectators.



Melbourne Cricket Ground.

AFL 2005 Premiership.

Premiership Club.

Essendon v Collingwood.


Exhibition of Tom Wills’s paintings by Martin Tighe (Signed by Artist)


The story of Tom Wills – the man most often credited with creating the game we now know as Australian Rules Football.

Sent to a strict English school, Rugby in 1850 at fourteen, Tom returned a worldly man whose cricket prowess quickly captured the hearts of Melbournians.

But away from the adoring crowds in the desolation of the Queensland outback, he experienced first-hand the devastating effects of racial tension when his father was murdered in the biggest massacre of Europeans by Aboriginal people.

Yet five years later, Tom coached the first Aboriginal cricket team. Tom Wills lived hard and fast, challenging authority on and off the field. But when his physical talents began to fade, psychological demons that alcohol and adrenaline had kept at bay surged to the fore, driving him to commit the most brutal of suicides, He was forty-four and destitute.



Martin Tighe


Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.


First XI

Acrylic on board.
114cm x 88cm.


In the Field

Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.



Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.



Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.


In the Name of the Father

Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.


Side by Side

Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.


The Game

Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.



Acrylic on board.
100cm x 78cm.


Tom Wills

40cm x 20cm x 15cm.


Bronze Sculpture of Tom Wills.  

Tom Wills was born in 1835 near Gundagai, NSW. Tom was an Australian all-round sportsman, umpire, coach and administrator who is credited with being a catalyst towards the invention of Australian Rules Football.

In the latter half of his life, Tom suffered from alcoholism and spent time in institutions to work through his demons. In 1880 at the age of 44 he was admitted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with extreme alcoholism and delusions. He discharged himself a day later and went home where he killed himself by stabbing his chest with a pair of scissors. It was said that the reason for his alcoholism was partly due to the violent death of his father in 1861.

Wills is honoured for the important role he played in the formation of Australian Rules Football with a sculpture at the MCG by Louis Laumen erected in 2002. The sculpture reads that Wills:

“Did more than any other person – as footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game – to develop Australian Football during its first decade.”

A room in the Great Southern Stand, known as the Tom Wills Room, reserved for corporate functions is also named after him.

In 2008, Round 19 of the AFL season was named Tom Wills Round to celebrate 150 years of Australian Football and featured a curtain raiser at the MCG between Scotch and Melbourne Grammar to mark the match which Wills famously umpired.

1 of 9


H: 33 cm – W: 20 cm – D: 14 cm


Origins of Australian Football: Victoria’s Early History

Volume 1

Amateurs Heroes and the Rise of Clubs 1858-1876

Mark Pennings


Origins of Australian Football: Victoria’s Early History

Volume 2

A Golden Era Begins: Football in ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ 1877-185

Mark Pennings


Origins of Australian Football: Victoria’s Early History

Volume 3

Covert Professionalism: The Power of the Wealthy Clubs

Mark Pennings


Origins of Australian Football: Victoria’s Early History

Volume 4

Tough Times, Victorian Football Loses its Way 1891-1896

Mark Pennings









T W Wills

In Melbourne Cricket Club Colours 

Oil Painting 1870

Artist: W Handcock

Melbourne Cricket Club Museum

National Sports Museum


Herald Sun Magazine 2008

Our Game – 150 Years of Footy

Part 1 – In the Beginning.

Editor: Gary Oxley.

Writers: Trevor Grant, Mike Sheahan, Jon Anderson & Geoff Poulter.



Tom Wills Poem – 150 Years of Football

All round sportsman
and Test cricketer Tom Wills
modified the rules of rugby
and created a new game
of Australian Football.

He was later instrumental
in forming the Melbourne Football Club
on August 7, 1858 –
which was the same year of the code’s
first recorded match,
between Scotch College
and Melbourne Grammar School,
in which Wills was the umpire.

That was fair enough
because he made up the rules.
When the game began
the large crowd cheered
and yelled out: Kick it!
Pick it up and kick it!

His father was killed by Aborigines
when Tom was a teenager
Year later Wills became the manager
of the first Australian cricket team
to play in England –
and all the players were Aborigines.

Tom Wills stabbed himself
three times in the heart
with a pair of scissors
as he lay drunk in his bed in Heidelberg
in 1880 – he’d become an alcoholic
and he couldn’t kick his habit.

Myron Lysenko

Worked as a professional poet (1989 – 2010) with Nexus Arts Booking Agency and is the author of five books of poetry and one of haiku. He teaches Creative Writing at the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre and at the Woodend Neighbourhood House. He is the convenor of Chamber Poets, a monthly reading of spoken word. He also runs regular ginko (haiku walks) in various beautiful scenic places. He is currently trying to complete a Library and Cultural Studies certificate at Victoria University. Myron plays ukulele and writes songs for his poetry band Black Forest Smoke.


Winter in Australia: Football in the Richmond Paddock, Illustrated Melbourne Post, 27 July 1866. State Library of Victoria



The 1859 portrait of Tom Wills photographed in a studio in Geelong not long after his return from England.


Tom Wills Statue

Louis Laumen Sculpture

The group statue in the park outside the MCG of Tom Wills umpiring the 1858 game between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College.

The plaque reads that Wills:

“did more than any other person—as a footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game—to develop Australian football during its first decade.”


Moyston, Victoria: Birthplace of Australian Football


The Tom Wills Rotunda Moyston, Victoria


Tom Wills Commemorative Memorial

Located at Moyston, Victoria not far from the Lexington home where Tom grew up before leaving for England to attend Rugby School.



274 Moyston – Great Western Road, Moyston, near Ararat, Victoria

The childhood home of Tom Wills, the founder of the Australian rules game, has been listed for sale with $5 million-plus hopes (24 September 2012).

The 785-hectare holding, with the grandeur of the Grampians in the background, has been listed through Elders agent Garry Todd with offers due by October 19.The property was established in 1840 by Horatio Wills, whose son, Tom, inspired by a game he played with the local indigenous children, is credited as inventing the country’s most popular sporting competition.

Tom grew up on the Moyston property before attending the Rugby School in England from 1852, where he excelled in all sports.

On his return to Australia in 1857, he adapted a winter game of football incorporating aspects of rugby and marngrook – a sport the Djabwurrong Aboriginal children played with a skin stuffed with charcoal. At the time, Lexington spanned more than 20,000 hectares from The Grampians towards Great Western in the north and Ararat in the east.

Lexington’s gracious 1850 colonial Georgian homestead has been refurbished throughout including re-plumbing, re-wiring, hydronic heating and ceiling insulation.

Its period features include three metre high ceilings with ornate cornices, cedar architraves, six open fireplaces and a return veranda overlooking Rick Eckersley-designed English gardens of sweeping lawns, mature specimen trees and scented plants.

The 60-square (558-square-metre) homestead has four bedrooms, study, library, sitting room, dining room, large central bathroom and modern kitchen.

It also comes with heritage two-storey barn, built of hand-made red bricks and local pit-sawn timber.



Thomas Wentworth Wills Grave

1835 – 1880

Tom Wills took his own life when of unsound mind from excessive drinking.

Wills was buried the next day in an unmarked grave in Heidelberg Cemetery at a private funeral attended by only six people: his brother Egbert, sister Emily and cousin HCA Harrison; Harrison’s sister Adela and her son Amos and cricketer Verney Cameron.

His death certificate declared that his parents were unknown.

When asked by a journalist about her late son, Elizabeth Wills is reported to have denied that Tom ever existed.


Johnny Mullagh Monument:

Mullagh was one of the Indigenous cricketers from Harrow, Victoria who was coached by Tom Wills prior to their 1868 Tour of England.



Johnny Mullagh Monument – Harrow, Victoria



Johnny Mullagh Grave

1843 – 1891

Harrow, Victoria Cemetery


Edenhope, Victoria


A memorial to the first Australian Cricket team to tour England in 1868.

The team comprised a group of Western District Aborigines who were coached by Tom Wills.


Tom Wills (back row, center) with the Aboriginal XI outside the MCC pavilion of the MCG, December 1866.


The Indigenous cricketers in their playing attire.


Johnny Mullagh Memorial Park – Harrow, Victoria


Johnny Mullagh (Unaarrimin) Plaque

A member of “The First Eleven” Aboriginal cricket team who toured England in 1868.


Johnny Mullagh Statue at Harrow                                                   


Tom Wills Painting


Horatio Wills                                                                                                                          




Tom at Rugby School








Sam Almaliki of Cricket Australia just announced their plans to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 Boxing Day match between an Aboriginal XI and the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC). They also revealed the piece of commemorative artwork that will be integrated into all celebrations associated with the 1866 match and the 1868 Aboriginal team that toured England. The artwork, ‘Walkabout Wickets’, was designed by Aboriginal artist Ms Fiona Clarke, who is a descendent of the Kirrae Whurrong Clan in the Western District in Victoria. Ms Clarke is also a descendent of players from both the 1866 and 1868 Aboriginal teams.



Aboriginal artwork will be a key feature of this year’s Boxing Day Test to commemorate our Indigenous cricketers of 1866

Author – Dr Greg de Moore


Recognising our Heritage:

Tom Wills Interchange – Dandenong North, Victoria


The interchange of the Eastlink and The Monash Freeway was named “Tom Wills Interchange” in honour of one of the founding fathers of Australian Rules Football.
This name also celebrates the historical links of the game to Melbourne’s outer east – the interchange is located near Waverly Park, formerly known as VFL/AFL Park.
The Tom Wills Interchange is a show piece of Eastlink, featuring an impressive series of ramps and bridges made out of both steel and concrete.

Tom Wills Interchange points of interest:

– Consists of seven bridges.

– If placed in the MCG it would fill the ground 42m deep.

– Monash flyover or steel box girder bridge stands more than five storeys (or 10 metres) above Eastlink.

– Tom Wills Interchanges hosts one of the largest wetland sites with 11 per cent of total wetland landscaping on Eastlink planted area.

– Over 850,000m3 of earth works was moved within the Tom Wills Interchange.


Tom Wills Oval

New South Wales Minister for Sport and Recreation, Graham Annesley and AFL Chief Executive, Andrew Demetriou today officially opened and named Greater Western Sydney Giants new multi-million dollar training facility Tom Wills Oval at Sydney Olympic Park.

“I’m proud to officially open the Tom Wills Oval, in recognition of a New South Welshman who was one of the pioneers of Australian Rules football,” Mr Annesley said.

Born in NSW in 1835, Tom Wills is one of the founders of Australian Football and also a notable cricketer who attended the Rugby School and Cambridge University. He died in Melbourne in 1880. He is honoured with a sculpture at the MCG which reads that Wills “did more than any other person – as footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game – to develop Australian football during its first decade.”

“For the history buffs Tom Wills was born in NSW and it is fitting the man who is credited as one of the founders of the game is honoured in such a way,” Mr Annesley said.

“I congratulate the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) on the development of this magnificent facility which will not only benefit the GWS Giants but also the community of Greater Western Sydney.

“This multi-million dollar investment will see part of the training complex used as a community playing field in keeping with the SOPA Master Plan,” Mr Annesley added.

The chairman of the Greater Western Sydney GIANTS Tony Shepherd thanked the NSW Government, the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and the AFL for their support.

“Today’s launch is a very significant milestone for our club. It will not only give the Giants a permanent training oval and an elite facility to rival other AFL clubs but also enlarges our footprint across Western Sydney,” Mr Shepherd said. “I couldn’t think of a more fitting name than the Tom Wills Oval and we are delighted it will also be available for community use so it can be shared with local sporting clubs.”

Andrew Demetriou, AFL CEO, said “this next step in the Giants’ journey is a vitally important one as it guarantees the club’s long-term growth here in Sydney while ensuring the team benefits from some of the best facilities in the country.”



Tom Wills was born in NSW and it is fitting the man who is credited as one of the founders of the game is honoured in such a way.

 –  Graham Annesley




Named after the founder of Australian Football and known as ‘the Chairman’s Lounge’ on an AFL match day, the recently refurbished Tom Wills room is the perfect venue for your next lunch, dinner, small meeting or conference.

This premium function room offers an intimate setting for your next small-scale-event. Your guests are sure to be impressed by the contemporary furnishings and stunning views of the hallowed MCG turf.

CAPACITY: banquet 110, cocktail 200, cabaret 88, theatre 72.
SIZE: 174 square metres.
LOCATION: Great Southern Stand Level 2.

Luxury penthouse plan for East Melbourne’s old Parade Hotel where Australian Football Rules were laid down.

Samantha Landy, News Corp Australia Network.

August 12, 2016 2:20pm.


The PARADE HOTEL East Melbourne

A piece of AFL history has hit the Melbourne market, just a drop punt from the hallowed MCG.

 A room inside the old Parade Hotel where the rules of Australian football were first drafted will be transformed into a luxury apartment as part of a 63-residence development in East Melbourne.

The Classic East Melbourne development by Brookfield and Cbus Property will comprise three buildings on Wellington Pde and Clarendon St — the former Parade Hotel, which will be extended to become a 14-storey tower, heritage mansion Mosspennoch and a new seven-level build.

AFL historian Col Hutchinson said a small committee of Melbourne Cricket Club members and journalists, led by Tom Wills, gathered at the 180 Wellington Pde pub in May 1859 to formally decide the laws of the game. Wills, a star cricketer, had a year earlier called for the formation of a new code to keep cricketers fit during the off-season. Mr Hutchinson said the pub — built in 1853 and later becoming the MCG Hotel — was a convenient meeting place, as it was close to the MCG and “Tom in particular didn’t mind a drink”.

Among the rules laid down were the coin toss to decide which end each team would kick to, that the ball must sail through the posts cleanly to be a goal, and that if a player marked the ball, they would be able to kick it freely.

Mr Hutchinson said the apartment, which will occupy the second level of the two-storey former Parade Hotel, would be perfect for a footy lover: “You could listen the roar of the crowd when footy is played at the ’G,” he said. It will have three bedrooms and two car spaces, span 213 square metres and carry an asking price of $2.5 million. A residents’ lounge will be on the ground floor.

The developers are reporting solid interest from prospective buyers. “This is a superb opportunity for sports enthusiasts to live the ultimate East Melbourne lifestyle just a kick away from the MCG,” Brookfield Head of Development Carl Schibrowski said.


Johnny Mullagh inducted on Indigenous Honour Roll

The larger than life, bronze-like statue depicting a likeness of one of Australia’s earliest cricket legends adorns the foyer of Harrow’s Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre.

The statue is that of Johnny Mullagh himself.

Born in 1841, he was named Unaarrimin by his indigenous family. He would later become more popularly known as Johnny Mullagh.

He ranks as a true sporting legend – nowhere more so than in the Wimmera town of Harrow, where he enjoys hero status to this day. His feats made him one of Australia’s first international cricketing stars.

The committee for the Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre nominated him for consideration in the inaugural Indigenous Honour Roll held on February 17.

Ange Newton, co-ordinator of the Johnny Mulagh Cricket Centre, said “we are absolutely beside ourselves.”

“It’s just fantastic for the town.”

She said, “it’s also a significant outcome for two Wimmera towns and for the men who were both members of the Wotjobaluk tribe.”

Both Johnny Mullagh and Lester Harradine from Dimboola were Wotjobaluk men.

“It’s great to think that our local men were considered alongside the likes of Archie Roach and Lionel Rose,” Ange said.

Each year on the Labor Day Weekend, Harrow hosts a cricket match between local Aboriginal and white boys, commemorating the 1868 tour of England by the team that Johnny Mullagh was part of.

Ange Newton also added that on April 7 (Easter Saturday) the centre will be showcasing the Bradman Collection.

The Department of Planning and Community Development has recorded the following information as a biography, depicting the life of Johnny Mullagh (Unaarrimin):

Mullagh’s high-profile success contrasted with the solitude by which he lived most of his life.

An unassuming Wotjobaluk man, he rarely strayed from the Pine Hills and Mullagh stations, where he was born in 1841 and later worked as a shearer and groom.

Mullagh Station afforded him the name by which he came to be known. He never married and had no children. What he did possess was a prodigious talent for cricket.

In station life, cricket was an equaliser among men. It was not uncommon for Aboriginal people to play alongside the settlers. From the moment he was introduced to the game, Mullagh showed great promise as an all rounder.

He was an obvious pick when an all-Aboriginal team was formed. The team participated in inter-station sports days, with the players’ abilities quickly attracting outside interest. They trained on the banks of Lake Wallace near Edenhope, eventually under the guidance of Victoria’s best cricketer of the day, T.W Wills, who came on to coach them in 1866.

Despite their early promise, the team faltered during a tour of Victoria and New South Wales in 1867. Though Mullagh’s talents were undeniable, the tour had taken its toll on many of the players and the team seemed destined to disband.

Chances are they would have, were it not for Charles Lawrence, an Englishman and coach whose attention they had caught in Sydney. Charles knew how lucrative an international cricket tour could be – he had been a member of the first English squad to visit Victoria in 1861 – and saw an opportunity to organise the first tour to England by a team from Australia. He would captain it, but otherwise it was to be all-Aboriginal.

With the financial backing of two Sydney businessmen, the team set out for England in 1868. The squad consisted of Mullagh, Bullocky, Sundown Dick-a-Dick (Jungunjinanuke), Johnny Cuzens, King Cole (Bripumyarrimin), Red Cap, Twopenny, Charley Dumas and Jimmy Mosquito.

People naturally dismissed the Aboriginal cricket team from the colonies as posing no threat in the nation that had invented the game. However, they underestimated the natural abilities of the players, who, led by Mullagh, beat English teams with vastly more experience. They further won over the crowds with displays of traditional skills, such as boomerang throwing, after the matches.

Mullagh captured imaginations in both countries. His performance in the 45 matches he played during the tour is comparable to the best the game has ever seen. He made 1,698 runs and took 257 wickets. As if that were not enough, he was also the team’s most successful wicketkeeper. One pace bowler who played against him declared that Mullagh was the finest batsmen he had ever seen.

The team returned to Australia triumphant. Mullagh played professionally with the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) but after one season he was feeling the call of his country and returned to the western Wimmera. He was joined in this decision by his teammate Johnny Cuzens, who had also made his mark during the tour of England and earned himself a place at MCC.

Mullagh was selected to play for Victoria against an All-England side in 1879 and played the 1884-85 season in an Adelaide competition as part of a Western District team. For the most part, however, it was the Harrow Club that benefited from his talents, right until the end of his life in 1891. Unsurprisingly, he dominated the batting and bowling averages at the club, and locals recalled how he would emerge from the bush and, with seemingly no practice, perform like a champion.

It should be noted that Mullagh’s life was not free from the discrimination of the day, but he would rise above these instances with dignity, admonishing the perpetrators in his own quiet way. One example occurred during the tour of England, when Mullagh refused to take to the field after one of his teammates was denied service at a refreshment tent in York.

The inscription on Mullagh’s tomb reads ‘world famed cricketer’ and despite a life lived largely in seclusion that was what he was. His memory is treasured by those in Harrow, where new generations are brought up on his story at a dedicated museum. As a prodigious sporting talent, Mullagh’s star remains undiminished – a reminder of the importance of role models and the value of sport.





Tom Wills


Full name: Thomas Wentworth Wills.

Born: August 19, 1835, Molonglo Plains, New South Wales.

Died: May 2, 1880, Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria (aged 44 years 257 days).

Major teams: Cambridge University, Kent, Victoria.

Also known as: Thomas Wentworth Spencer Wills.

Batting style: Right-hand bat.

Bowling style: Right-arm fast (round-arm), Right-arm slow (underarm).

Education: Rugby School.

Batting and fielding averages:

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St
First-class 32 57 8 602 58 12.28 0 1 20 0

Bowling averages

Mat Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5w 10
First-class 32 1221+ 130 7/44 10.09* 15 3

Career statistics

First-class debut Gentlemen of Kent v Gentlemen of England at Canterbury, Aug 17-18, 1854 scorecard
Last First-class 1875/76


It can be argued with justification that Tom Wills was Australia’s first great sportsman, credited with being the first cricketer of significance and a pioneer of what was to become Australian Rules Football.

Born in Australia – his grandfather had been deported for robbery – he grew up close to Aborigines and spoke their language, before being sent to Rugby School in England when he was 14, where he excelled at cricket and rugby. He returned home and emerged as a leading cricketer in Victoria.

Nine years earlier he had chaired a meeting of the Melbourne Football Club at which the first rules were set down, and he subsequently helped in the formation of several other clubs.

However, his life thereafter was a story of decline, as he slid into alcoholism. He was in and out of asylums until stabbing himself to death with a pair of scissors at the age of 44.

Martin Williamson




Bendigo Advertiser – Tuesday 4 May 1880


It will, doubtless, be a matter of extreme regret to all cricketers throughout the colony to learn that Mr. Thomas Wills, more generally known as Tommy Wills, is no more, he having died at his house at Heidelberg on Sunday afternoon. It appears (states the Telegraph) that the deceased for some time past has been suffering from low spirits, induced, it is alleged, by heavy drinking. From information to hand, it appears that Wills, whose condition latterly had been so precarious as to warrant his being placed under the care of a male attendant, was on Sunday left by the man in the care of his wife while he went to his dinner. On his return this duties the man ascertained that Wills, during his temporary absence, has possessed himself of a pair of scissors, with which he stabbed himself, inflicting three wounds on the left breast, immediately in the region of the heart, which organ probably was punctured with the blades of the scissors.


The unfortunate man appeared to suffer but little after the mortal injuries had been inflicted but in a very few moments he succumbed, and breathed his last. Mrs. Wills, and also a female neighbour named Jennie M’Kewan, were in the room when the wretched man committed self-slaughter, but their efforts were ineffectual in endeavouring to wrest the weapon from the hands of the poor fellow. At the time of his death Mr. Wills was about 45 years of age.


Our Melbourne correspondent, writing yesterday, says:—The news of the death of Tom Wills, which reached town after midnight yesterday, was received with surprise and regret by cricketers, for the veteran—although he has been a stranger to the cricket field of late—was by no means an old man. People who know anything of the history of Victorian cricket will not require to be reminded of the good service which poor Wills rendered the game in the past, and many players will acknowledge that much of the proficiency is due to the skillful coaching which they have received at his hands.


The Herald of last night says; —The sad ending of Mr. T.W. Wills, the veteran cricketer, as reported in this morning’s papers, will strike an unpleasant chord in cricketing, as in many other circles. “Tommy” Wills was so identified with the early history of cricket in Victoria, that his name had become a household word, not only with cricketers, but with the public generally, who in those times, almost to an individual, were deeply interested in the results of our early intercolonial contests on the green sward. It is a matter of history how New South Wales, after winning the first two matches, encountered a long series of defeats and out of fourteen matches only conquered twice.


With the early successes of this colony “Tommy” was perhaps more nearly associated than any other man. We find his name first appearing in the Victorian Eleven in the second Intercolonial match, played in 1857; so that it is now twenty-three years since the man whose unhappy death is now fresh in the public mind appeared, then almost a youth, with activeframe and bright hopes, as one of the representatives of Victoria in the cricket field. “Tommy” had learnt his cricket and football up to that time at Rugby, but his first attempt with the bat in an Intercolonial match, was a failure.


With the ball, however, he played sad havoc among the New South Wales batsmen. Victoria was defeated that year, but then came a long list of Victorian victories, with Wills figuring brilliantly, not only with the ball, but also with the bat. “Tommy” Wills in those halcyon days of success was a public favourite of the most pronounced type. Budding cricketers thought it a high honour indeed to obtain recognition from the hero of the hour.


Staid old fogies, who had perhaps in their younger days Fix been engaged in the varsity or public schools or country matches at home, delighted to grasp his hand, slap him on the back, and congratulate him on his achievements. Unhappily, these congratulations too often assumed the shape of about the most ill-judged kindness that could have been offered to our of “Tommy’s” temperament. The sad effects of this dangerous popularity are now recorded. The great fault of Wills was that he had not the moral courage to say “No.” He was naturally kind and genial, and fond of lively company.


Altogether, he played in twelve intercolonial matches, viz., those in: 1857, 1S58, 1859, 1860, 1863, 1865, 1867, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872, and 1876, and of these, the only matches won by New South Wales were those in 1857, 1863, and 1876.


In those days Wills was indeed a tower of strength to his colony at the wickets as a bowler, or in the field.


In the early days his most prominent contemporaries were “Jerry” Bryant, “Gid” Elliott, “Tom” Wray, J.B. Thompson, George Marshall, ” Tom” Hamilton (now the hon. T. F Hamilton), and others. Looking at this list of names, and remembering how long it is since they were annually in every month, one begins to feel the march of time. “Jack” Conway, “Dan” Wilkie, “Sam” Cosstick, and others, came on the scene somewhat later.


But during all the time of his connection with Intercolonial cricket the name of T. W. Wills was amongst the most prominent. He was one of those men of whom it could most certainly be said he was an enemy to no one so much as to himself.



Anne McMaster’s brilliant painting, Tom Wills Country, is a most evocative piece of argument about Aboriginal influence on Australian Rules football. The picture gives its name to an exhibition by the artist ‘exploring the region’s indigenous, pioneering and AFL roots.’



Sign at the free swimming lake at Naracoorte, South Australia.

Photo: Noreen McAdam



Tom Wills letter to Bell’s Life


Tom Wills, widely acknowledged as the founder of the game, proposed that cricketers play the game to keep themselves fit during the winter months. In a letter to Bell’s Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, he wrote:

Dear Sir,

Now that cricket has been put aside for some months to come, and cricketers have assumed somewhat of a chrysalis nature (for the time being only, it is true), but at length again will burst forth in all their varied hues, rather than allow this state of torpor to creep over them and stifle their now supple limbs, why cannot they, I say form a football club, and form a committee of three or more to draw up a code of laws?

If a club of this sort was got, it would be of vast benefit to any cricket ground to be trampled upon, and would make the turf firm and durable, beside which it would help those who are inclined to become stout and having their joints encased in useless super-abundant flesh.

If it were not possible to form a football club, why should these young men who have adopted this new country as their motherland – why, I say, do they not form themselves into a rifle club, so at any date they may be some day called upon to aid their adopted land against a tyrant who may sometime pop upon us when we least expect a foe at our own very doors. Surely our young cricketers are not afraid of a crack of a rifle when they face so courageously the leather sphere, and it would disgrace no one to learn in time to defend his country and hearth.

A firm heart and a steady hand and a quick eye are all that are requisite, and with practice all these may be attained. Trusting that someone will take up this matter and form either of the above clubs or at any rate some athletic games.

I remain,

Yours truly



Rules of Melbourne Football Club – May 1859







[1]     A version of this story has appeared in Roy Hay, ‘A tale of two footballs: the origins of Australian Football and Association Football revisited,’ Sport in Society, Vol. 13, No. 6. August 2010, p. 952–969.

[2]     Media release, Ararat Regional Art Gallery, 19 March 2009.

[3]     Anne McMaster, email 5 May 2009.

[4]     Greg de Moore, Tom Wills: His Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2008, p. 15. The sources quoted are Horace Wills, his brother, who was not born till 1847, and who would have only been three years old when Tom left for England, and Colden Harrison, whose memoirs were not published until 1923. Terry Wills-Cooke, the great grandson of Horace Wills is ambivalent. In his published account of the Wills family, he says Tom Wills’ playmates tended to be Aboriginal children. T.S. Wills Cooke, The Currency Lad: A Biography of Horatio Spencer Howe Wills, 1811–1861, privately published, Leopold, Victoria, 1997, p. 201. But later in interviews quoted by Judd he withdraws from that notion. ‘Anyway so the first thing I’d say is that all this romantic stuff about how he grew up playing with Aboriginal children simply wasn’t the way it was. … So the first thing is that is Tom there during his youth playing marngrook with the Aboriginal children while it’s politically convenient is just not true.’ Barry Judd, On the Boundary Line: Colonial Identity in Football, Australian Scholarly Press, Melbourne, 2008, p. 231, note 24. Greg de Moore also quotes from a contemporary letter from Horatio Wills, Tom’s father, sent to Tom while he was at Rugby school in England in which a young Aboriginal boy from Mount William inquires about when Tom is coming back. de Moore, Tom Wills, p. 30.

[5]     Ken Edwards, with assistance by Troy Meston, Yulunga: Traditional Indigenous Games, Indigenous Sport Program of the Australian Sports Commission, Canberra, 2008; Ken Edwards, Choopadoo: Games from the Dreamtime, QUT Publications, Brisbane, 1999, p. 15–33.

[6]     William Kyle, ‘Reminiscences from 1841 of William Kyle, a Pioneer,’ communicated to and transcribed by Charles Daley, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol. 10, 1925, p. 165 (I owe this reference to Dr John Hirst and Gillian Hibbins); James Dawson, Australian Aborigines: the language and customs of several tribes of Aborigines in the western district of Victoria, Australia, Canberra City, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1981 edition, originally published 1881, p. 85; William Thomas, Brief Remarks on the Aborigines of Victoria, 1838–1839, 1839, Latrobe Library Manuscript Collections, La Trobe University, Melbourne, MS7838, Box 862/9(a), p. 28; see also Jim Poulter, ‘Marn Grook—Original Aussie Rules,’ endnote 7 below; R Brough Smyth, Aborigines of Victoria, 1830–1899, John Currey O’Neill, Melbourne, 1972, First published 1876; Peter Beveridge, The Aborigines of Victoria and Riverina: as seen by Peter Beveridge, M.L. Hutchinson, Melbourne, 1889, pp. 45–6.

[7]     William Thomas, Brief Remarks on the Aborigines of Victoria, 1838–1839, 1839, Latrobe Library Manuscript Collections, La Trobe University, Melbourne, MS7838, Box 862/9(a), p. 28, quoted in Barry Judd, On the Boundary Line: Colonial Identity in Football, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2008, p. 33.

[8]     The report appeared in the Melbourne Herald on 6 June 1860 and was reproduced in Empire, Sydney, 12 June 1860, p. 2.,+NSW+:…%7Ctitleid:67%7C%7C%7Cl-decade=186%7C%7C%7Csortby=dateAsc%23reloadOnBack. I owe this reference to Ian Syson.

[9]     Ian Syson, ‘Response to the debate over the ‘rediscovery’ of the Blandowski/Mutzel etching in 2008’, by email, May 2008.

[10]   The publican of the hotel in Cavendish named McCallum instigated and performed in a football match in 1867. Hamilton Spectator, 2 October 1867, p. 2.

[11]   ‘The Hamilton Courier states that a foot-ball match between the “town and the country” came off at Mr Butler’s Nine Mile Creek, which ended in the defeat of the town.’ Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, Monday 29 August 1859, p. 2; ‘Being a great admirer of the athletic sports, I wish to call the attention of the young men of Portland to the raising of a Foot Ball Club. I am sure it would afford great amusement to them. It is all the rage now in Melbourne, and having lately been up there, I saw that it was as well attended as the Cricket Club. I think a club could be easily got up here. Hoping it will be attempted.’ Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, Monday 1 October 1860, p. 4.

[12]   Jim Poulter floated the idea in ‘An old, old ball game,’ Australasian Post, 4 August 1983, p. 8 and then in developed it in ‘The origins of Australian Rules Football’, in Peter Burke & Leo Grogan, This Game of Ours, Eatwarlflemsd, St Andrews, Vic., 1993. Since then he has expanded his discussion into a longer essay, ‘Marngrook—Original Aussie Rules’, and kindly supplied a copy. See also the posts by Gillian Hibbins and Martin Flanagan on on 15–16 May 2008.

[13]   Jim Poulter, ‘Marn-Grook—Original Aussie Rules,’ Melbourne, April 2008, copy supplied to Roy Hay by the author.

[14]   Poulter also asserts that the word ‘barek’ or ‘barak’ means cheering and hence explains the Australian use of the word barrack to support a team, a reversal of common English usage.

[15]   Jim Poulter, Sharing Heritage in Kulin Country, Red Hen Enterprises, Templestowe, Victoria, 2011.

[16]   Martin Flanagan, The Call, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, New South Wales, 1998, p. 180–1.

[17]   Martin Flanagan, The Call; Martin Flanagan, The Call; A realisation for the stage by Bruce Myles, currency Press in association with Playbox Theatre, Melbourne, 2004; Martin Flanagan, ‘Tom Wills: The Original Spirit,’ Australian Football Quarterly, Issue 1, 2004, p. 10-16; Martin Flanagan on Tom Wills, on 15–16 May 2008; Martin Flanagan, ‘A battle of Wills’, Age Sport, 10 May 2008, p. 4.

[18]   ‘Albert Club Rules’, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, Saturday 24 November 1860, p. 2. This article is on the rule book of the Albert cricket club in Sydney given to the author by the Albert’s secretary, Mr Curtis. It concludes, ‘The whole being supplemented by the latest revised rules of cricket; and the Rugby football regulations; which, during the past two winters, have been adopted with so much success in Victoria.’ Again this item was discovered by Ian Syson.

[19]   The Geelong running game can be ruled out, because Wills took little or no part in the development of this style of play between 1859 when the Geelong club was founded and sought to play by Melbourne rules and 1866 when his cousin Colden Harrison chaired a meeting which revised the rules of the game. He did use a running tactic for Melbourne against South Yarra. Greg de Moore, Tom Wills, p. 101. Several of the references to Wills in Geelong line-ups prior to 1863 almost certainly refer to his brothers since Tom Wills was in Queensland from January 1861 to late 1862.

[20]   Robert Messenger, ‘Charlie “Commotion” Pearson and Australian football’s flying mark’, Sporting Traditions XVI, Biennial Conference of the Australian Society for Sports History, Canberra, 28 June 2007. Messenger speculated that Pearson might have been influenced by an Aboriginal game played in Gippsland where he grew up.

[21]   Roy Hay, ‘New evidence’, Geelong Advertiser, 21 October 2009, p. 29.

[22]   ‘Mr. Lawrence’s new team of black cricketers en route to England,’ Supplement to the Warrnambool Examiner, 1 October 1967, p. 1. Syson found the reference in the Hobart Mercury on Wednesday 16 October 1867, p. 3, using the National Library of Australia’s digitisation project of early Australian newspapers. The Hobart paper took the material from the Warrnambool Examiner. Rex Harcourt and John Mulvaney picked up the football reference and commented on it in Cricket Walkabout: The Australian Aborigines in England. But their take was somewhat different. Relying on an article in the Hamilton Spectator they argued ‘lack of time made them decline an invitation to play the new-fangled game of football which Tom Wills had introduced a few years previously’. John Mulvaney & Rex Harcourt, Cricket Walkabout: The Australian Aborigines in England, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1988, p. 76. The football match is not mentioned in Mulvaney’s original publication. D J Mulvaney, Cricket Walkabout: The Australian Aboriginal Cricketers on Tour 1867–8, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1967.

[23]   Geoffrey Blainey, A Game of Our Own: The Origins of Australian Football, Information Australia, Melbourne, 1990, p. 78.

[24]   The South Australian Advertiser, Adelaide, Monday 19 May 1862, p. 3.

[25]   There was an advertisement for the formation of an Adelaide football club in the South Australian Register on 25 April 1860 according to Rob Hess, Matthew Nicholson, Bob Stewart and Gregory de Moore, A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, Penguin, Melbourne, 2008, pp. 71–3. See also The South Australian Advertiser, Wednesday 25 April 1860, p. 1. It is not clear yet whether there were Aboriginal players involved with the club at any time after that until 1862. The attendance of a preponderance of women at the match in 1862 is also interesting.

[26]   A Mancini & G M Hibbins (eds), Running With the Ball: Football’s Foster Father, Lynedoch Publications, Melbourne, 1987.

[27]   Cec Mullen, History of Australian Rules Football, 1858–1958, Horticultural Press, Carlton, Melbourne, 1958; Cec Mullen, Mullen’s Footballers’ Australian Almanac, 1951, 187 Langridge Street, Abbotsford, 1951. These sources contradict each other on a number of points of detail. Trevor Ruddell, Assistant Librarian at the Melbourne Cricket Club Library, performed a detailed critique of Mullen’s work in 2006 and supplied a copy of his presentation. Thanks to David Studham of the MCC Library I have been able to consult some of Mullen’s original material, compiled in his youth, which forms the basis of these later publications. One volume consists of a fair copy of the information derived from Mullen’s research notebooks entitled ‘Interesting Records of the History of the Australian Game of Football’, Melbourne Cricket Club Museum, Registration Number, M15485. According to the handwritten title page it was compiled in 1922 and contains most of the information on which the later published works were based. Reconstructing Mullen’s research methods on the basis of this material is difficult, but it appears that he did look at contemporary newspapers and talked to a number of people who had memories of the early game. Those memories seem to have been assertive and forthright as to names of influential individuals but very hazy as to specific dates, as one might expect some 60–70 years after the events took place. So it is not surprising that Mullen and his informants may have run together episodes which took place at different times. The manuscript volume has dates and names of clubs overwritten and changed, sometimes more than once. It is not absolutely certain that all the changes were made by Mullen, but it seems likely that the majority of them were. Mullen’s original notes may well have been made when he was very young, possibly still at school. Having got some results for each year, it is likely that he compiled his own league tables and awarded the title of the champion team. In 1864 he had Melbourne as champion, Ballarat second and Geelong third. But that year Geelong won the Caledonian Cup and at the start of the 1865 season a member of the club writing to Bell’s Life said, a propos of Geelong, ‘The members of the champion club, to the number of twenty, met on Tuesday last for the purpose of holding their annual general meeting.’ Bell’s Life in Victoria, Saturday, 6 May 1865. See also Rob Hess, Case Studies in the Development of Australian Rules Football, 1896–1908, PhD thesis, Victoria University, Melbourne, 2000, pp. 5–6, and Greg de Moore, In from the Cold: Tom Wills—A Nineteenth Century Sporting Hero, PhD thesis, Victoria University, Melbourne, 2008, Appendix, p. 315–21; W.F. Mandle, ‘Games people played: Cricket and Football in England and Victoria in the Late Nineteenth Century,’ Historical Studies, vol. 15, no. 60, April 1973, p. 511–35; Leonie Sandercock  and Ian Turner, Up where, Cazaly? The great Australian game. Sydney: Granada, 1982. For a somewhat more detailed look at the issues raised see Roy Hay, ‘Cec Mullen, Tom Wills and the search for early Geelong football,’ The Yorker, Issue 42, Spring 2010, p. 3-5.

[28]   Rob Hess, Matthew Nicholson, Bob Stewart and Gregory de Moore, A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, Penguin, Melbourne, 2008; James Weston, ed., The Australian Game of Football since 1858, Geoff Slattery Publishing, Melbourne, 2008; Rob Hess and Bob Stewart, eds, More than a Game: An Unauthorised History of Australian Rules Football, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1998; Rob Pascoe, The Winter Game: The Complete History of Australian Football, Text, Melbourne, 1995.

[29]   Gillian Hibbins, ‘Myth and History in Australian Rules Football’, Sporting Traditions, vol. 25, no. 2, November 2008, p. 41–53; Gillian Hibbins. Sport and Racing in Colonial Melbourne: The Cousins and Me: Colden Harrison, Tom Wills and William Hammersley, Lynedoch publications, Melbourne, 2007.

[30]   Greg de Moore, Tom Wills, p. 166–89; John Mulvaney and Rex Harcourt, Cricket Walkabout: The Australian Aborigines in England, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1988, p. 35–42. The original version was by Mulvaney and was published as Cricket Walkabout: The Australian Aboriginal Cricketers on Tour, 1867–8, by Melbourne University Press in 1967.

[31]   Mulvaney and Harcourt, Cricket Walkabout, p. 63–5 & 80–1; Greg de Moore, Tom Wills, p. 165–89 & 193.

[32]   Gillian Hibbins, ‘A Code of Our Own, The Yorker, June 2009, p. 3–13.

[33]   Daryl McLure has called for a new stand at the Geelong Football Club to be named after Wills for his unique contribution to the founding of the game. Daryl McLure, ‘Honour Wills: Name stand after code’s greatest champion,’ Geelong Advertiser, 20 June 2009, p. 35. But see also, Roy Hay, ‘Don’t be hasty: Wills not the only one with credentials for a guernsey,’ Geelong Advertiser, 24 June 2009, p. 21.

[34]   Ciannon Cazaly, ‘Off the Ball: Football’s History Wars,’ Meanjin, vol. 67, no. 4, Summer 2008, p. 82–7. The Meanjin blog Spike contains some spirited defence of Hibbins’ work from Mark Pennings, Trevor Ruddell, David Studham, Ken Edwards, Geoff Slattery and Roy Hay, and a supportive response by Barry Judd.

[35]   John Hirst, ‘Comment’, The Monthly, September 2008, p. 8–11.

[36]   Trevor Ruddell, ‘Albert “Pompey” Austin: The first Aborigine to play senior football’, in Peter Burke & June Senyard (eds), Behind the Play: Football in Australia, Maribyrnong Press, Melbourne, 2008, p. 89–105.

[37]   There were 72 players of Aboriginal heritage on AFL player lists in 2008. Information from John Murray.

[38]   Bill McMaster confirms that Murray is almost invisible outside his local area, but attributes this as much to personal choice as community attitudes. Personal communication, 22 May 2009.

[39]   ‘What prevents me from accepting the academic view is this: Maurice Marks from Dimboola was the only Aboriginal player in the Wimmera League of the late [19]60s and people used to say “he ought to be good, it’s their game” and I don’t recall anyone ever challenging it, even though we were in the guts of Wills’ territory, Edenhope’s half an hour away, we’re among old men whose fathers knew Wills personally, and it’s hardly an atmosphere of racial generosity. Yet, when the game these white blokes live for is attributed to blackfellas, it goes unchallenged. So where did the good people of the Wimmera pick up that baseless rumour? It certainly wasn’t from Martin Flanagan. Did they read it in their paper? Apparently not as the historians say there’s ‘no evidence’. I’m not expecting any Dead Sea Scrolls to turn up and resolve it so the ‘historically accurate’ version will prevail lest we’re ditching science, but that ‘accurate’ view has got some gaping holes in it. Perhaps those same historians can now turn their attention to why so many people would choose to believe such a thing when there’s no obvious grounds to do so.’ Posted by: Dennis on May 16, 2008 10:59 AM, on Martin Flanagan’s blog on The history wars and AFL footy,, accessed 17 August 2008.

[40]   Barry Judd, On the Boundary Line: Colonial Identity in Football, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2008, p. 9.

[41]   Barry Judd, On the Boundary Line, p. 1–76.

[42]   Garry Linnell, Playing God: The Rise and Fall of Gary Ablett, Harper Collins, Sydney, 2003; Joe Lovejoy, Bestie: A Portrait of a Legend, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1998; Roy Hay, ‘Of Jimmy Johnstone, George Best, Diego Maradona and Gary Ablett: A preliminary search for some aspects of the creative genius in sports’, Sporting Traditions, University of Otago, Queenstown, New Zealand, February 1999.

[43]   According to Daryl McLure, former editor of the Geelong Advertiser, Terry Wills-Cooke retains some letters relating to Tom Wills and his family which he promised not to make available during his own lifetime. Given the family’s difficult relationship with Tom in the latter stages of his life and after, it is likely that these contains sensitive matter, but possibly some which might throw further light on Wills himself. Telephone conversation, 19 June 2009. Martin Flanagan is insistent that Terry Wills-Cooke is adamant that his grandmother told him that Tom Wills played with the local Aborigines. By email, xx.xx.2013, copy held by Roy Hay.

[44]   Russell H T Stephens, Wills Way: Three Generations of the Wills Family that Provided a New Game—Australian Football, Caringbah, NSW, Playright Publishing, 2009.

[45]   Gardiner defeated the sitting member for the Victorian lower house seat of Carlton at the election of January 1880 and held it until 1891. He continued playing for his club until 1883. He was a fast-moving defender and managed to kick four goals in his career. In Parliament he was not so conspicuous, though in his second term, while still a young man in political terms, he spoke out against the attempt by another young man in a hurry, Alfred Deakin, when the latter moved a motion to shorten parliamentary speeches, surely one of the most beneficial proposals to come before any legislature. After he was defeated in 1891, Gardiner became a Melbourne City Councillor and, after a brief retirement to the country, returned and represented the Victoria ward for almost 30 years. He was still an Alderman when he died on 29 October 1929 at the age of 81. His death coincided with Black Monday of the Wall Street Crash, but the two events are probably not connected. Roy Hay, ‘Sporting MPs,’ Geelong Advertiser, 21 June 2008, p. 43.

[46]   The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 29 June 1850, p. 4, drawing on the Port Philip papers to the 17th of June.

[47]   Port Philip Herald, 30 March 1850, p. 3. I owe this and several other references to Dr Tony Ward.

[48]   Geelong Advertiser, 20 November 1850, p. 2; Geoffrey Blainey, A Game of Our Own: The Origins of Australian Football, Information Australia, Melbourne, 1990; new edition, Black, Inc., Melbourne, 2003, p. 12.

[49]   Geelong Advertiser, 21 November 1850, p. 2.

[50]   Port Philip Herald, 26 February 1856, p. 8 and 5 March 1856, p. 8.

[51]   Gillian Hibbins, ‘A Code of our Own,’ The Yorker, June 2009, p. 3-13.

[52]   The Warrnambool Examiner and Western Districts Advertiser, Tuesday, 4 June 1861, p. 2; Ron Cole, Harry Keilar, Ron McCorkell & Ian Wright, The Birth of the Blues: Warrnambool Football Netball Club, 1861–2007, Warrnambool Football Netball Club, Warrnambool, 2008, p. 2–5.

[53]   Warrnambool Examiner, 28 May 1861.

[54]   Roy Hay, ‘British Football, Wogball or the World Game? Towards a social history of Victorian Soccer’, in John O’Hara (ed.), Ethnicity and Soccer in Australia, ASSH Studies in Sports History Number 10, Australian Society for Sports History, Campbelltown, 1994, p. 44-79.

[55]   Nicholas Mason, Football, Hicks Smith, Sydney, (English edition by Temple Smith, London) 1974, p. 86.

[56]   ‘Last Sunday, during Divine Service, a large batch of youngsters was eagerly engaged in playing at foot-ball, on Hyde Park.’ The Sydney Herald, Monday 30 July 1832, p. 15, perhaps should be 5 of 6.

[57]   Port Philip Herald, 17 December 1855, p. 7.

[58]   Ian Syson was writer and researcher at the Football Federation of Victoria in 2009, while on research leave from Victoria University. He kindly supplied a copy of some of his discoveries of material relating to football drawn from the National Library of Australia digital archive. See for example, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 10 June 1841; Courier, Hobart, Tasmania, 2 June 1847; Moreton Bay Courier, 20 January 1849.

[59]   Advertisements in Launceston Examiner, 4 February 1860, p. 1 & 24 July 1860, p. 1. The theft is recounted on 17 November 1860, p. 4. Ian Syson found that story.

[60]   ‘Yesterday, being St. Patrick’s Day, the natives of the Emerald Isle kept their usual anniversary by a game at football in the neighbourhood of the City Market, Thebarton, after which an ox was roasted whole, with which they regaled themselves and their families in genuine Irish style.’ South Australian Register, Adelaide, Saturday 18 March 1843, p. 4.

[61]   ‘The figures of the competitors, engaged in this ancient game, requiring both skill and activity, marked as they were by their distinctive badges of blue and pink, now scattered over the field, and again mixed together in the hot conflict for possession of the ball, gave an animation to the picture far exceeding the usual appearance of a cricket match.’ The South Australian Advertiser, Adelaide, Tuesday 19 June 1860, p. 6.

[62]   Philip Mosely, A social history of soccer in New South Wales, 1880-1956, University of Sydney, PhD thesis, 1987.

[63]   Mark Pennings and Robert Pascoe are compiling a prosopography of the first generations of footballers in Victoria and presented a brief introduction at the Worlds of Football Conference in 2010.

[64]   Neil Tranter, ‘The Chronology of Organised Sport in Nineteenth Century Scotland: A Regional Study I – Patterns’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 7 (No. 2), 1990, p. 188-203; and ‘II – Causes’, 7 (No. 3), p. 365-387; Neil Tranter, Sport, economy and society in Britain, 1750–1914, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998; John Goulstone, ‘Working-Class Origins of Modern Football,’ International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 17, no. 1, March 2000, p. 135–43; John Goulstone, Football’s secret history, 3–2 Books, Upminster, Essex, 2001; Adrian Harvey, Football: The First Hundred Years: The Untold Story, Routledge, London, 2005; Peter Swain, ‘Cultural Continuity and Football in Nineteenth Century Lancashire,’ Sport in History, Vol. 28, no. 4, December 2008, p. 566–582; John Hutchinson, ‘Sport, Education and Philanthropy in Nineteenth Century Edinburgh: The Emergence of Modern Forms of Football, Sport in History, Vol. 28, no. 4, December 2008, p. 547–565.

[65]   Brendan Murphy, From Sheffield with Love: Celebrating 150 years of Sheffield FC the World’s Oldest Football Club, Sportsbooks’ Ltd, Cheltenham, 2007, p. 40–41. The Dictionary of Australian First Class Cricketers, p. 12, has an account of Creswick’s undistinguished cricket career but no mention of involvement in football. He did play cricket twice for the Melbourne Cricket Club in first class matches in 1857–58.

[66]   Free kick, ‘Football in Melbourne’, letter to Bell’s Life in Victoria, 14 May 1864, p. 2.

[67]   John Bale, Imagined Olympians: Body Culture and Colonial Representation in Rwanda. Sport and Culture Series. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002; For a taxonomy of cultural sporting types, see John Bale and Mike Cronin, eds, Sport and post-colonialism, Berg, Oxford, 2003, p. 7–9.

[68]   David Goldblatt, The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football, Penguin edition, London, 2007, p. 3–18.

[69]   Stefan Szymanski, ‘A Theory of the Evolution of Modern Sport,’ Journal of Sport History, vol 35, no. 1, p. 1–32.

[70]   Szymanski, ‘A Theory’, p. 2.

[71]   Szymanski, ‘A Theory’, p. 23.

[72]   The Melbourne Mechanics’ Institution and School of Arts was founded by members of the Union Benefit Society a mutual benevolent society assisting skilled workers across the various trades and modelled on United Kingdom friendly societies. Though initially very much an artisans’ initiative it was very quickly taken over by its patrons becoming the Melbourne Athenaeum. Among its vice-presidents was Thomas Wills Esq. JP, magistrate in 1841 and member of the provisional committee of the Melbourne Club, son of a convict who became a landowner, and brother of Horatio Wills whose party were massacred by Aboriginals in Queensland, and uncle of Tom Wills. Susan Kruss, The Goddess and the Lyre: A Cultural History of the Melbourne Athenaeum, forthcoming 2009.

[73]   Dr K M Haig-Muir, Dr Peter Mewett and Roy Hay, Sporting Facilities in Victoria, Final Report to Heritage Victoria on the history of sporting sites in the state, 2000.

[74]   Roy Hay and G A McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong: A History of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, 1853–2005, Sports and Editorial Services Australia in association with the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Teesdale, Victoria, 2006, p. 20.

[75]   Roy Hay, ‘The beginnings of football in Geelong and the Geelong Football Club’ in John Murray, ed., We are Geelong: The Story of the Geelong Football Club, Geoff Slattery Enterprises, Melbourne, 2009, p. 23-31.

[76]   Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, Thursday 5 July 1866, p. 2.

[77]   Samuel Smiles, Lives of the Engineers, originally published in 3 volumes in 1862 is the classic source. It has been republished many times including by Augustus M Kelley in 1968.

[78]   Blainey, A Game of our Own, p. 202.

[79]   Floreat Rugbeoa, ‘Football is a game peculiar to Rugby, though I am glad to say that it has spread to every quarter of the world, and it has even been started in Australia by a Rugboeian [i.e. T.W.Wills ]’. Bell’s Life in London, 19 December 1858, quoted in John Goulstone, Football’s secret history, 3–2 Books, Upminster, Essex, 2001, p. 47.

[80]   Melvyn Bragg, 12 books that changed the world, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2006; The Rules of Association Football, Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2006.

[81]   Greg de Moore, ‘Tom Wills, Marngrook and the Evolution of Australian Football,’ in Rob Hess, Matthew Nicholson and Rob Stewart, eds, Football Fever: Crossing Boundaries, Maribyrnong Press, 2005, p. 5–15.

[82]   J A Mangan and Colm Hickey, ‘Soccer’s Missing Men: Schoolteachers and the Spread of Association Football,’ Soccer and Society, vol. 9, no. 5, December 2008, p. 589–802. The special issue of the journal is given over completely to this highly detailed account.

[83]   Russell H T Stephens, The Road to Kardinia: The Story of the Geelong Football Club, Playright Publishing, Sydney, 1996, p. 18. Though since Stephens relies on Cec Mullen for much of his early information about the club, this may be an error.

[84]   Geelong Chronicle, 14 August 1863.

[85]   Geelong Chronicle, 16 September 1863, p. 2.

[86]   Hamilton Spectator, 29 April 1899, p. 4.

[87]   Kevin O’Dowd, Geelong’s Blazing Century: Runs and Wickets Since 1862, self-published, Geelong, n.d., p. 1–37; W R Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay, Geelong Advertiser, Geelong, 1990 edition, p. 527–8.

[88]   T W Wills, The Australian Cricketer’s Guide for 1870–71, J & A McKinley, Melbourne, 1871, p. 92.

[89]   T W Wills, The Australian Cricketer’s Guide for 1874–75, Henry Franks, Geelong, 1875, p. 58.

[90]   Ruddell, ‘Albert “Pompey” Austin’, p. 96–8.

[91]   W R Brownhill, The History of Geelong, p. 552.

[92]   300 sovereigns according to his obituary in the Hamilton Spectator, 29 April 1899, p. 4.

[93]   Paul de Serville, Pounds and Pedigrees, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990, p. 432. I owe this reference to Daryl Wight, who compiled the entry on Rippon.

[94]   He played off in the final of the Geelong Quoits Club championship in 1865, despite being a novice at the sport. Geelong Advertiser, 17 July 1865, p. 3.

[95]   Brownhill, History of Geelong, p. 522.

[96]   Among those who are working in this area are Ken Edwards, Barry Judd, Abby Cooper, Ciannan Cazaly, Jim Poulter, Robert Messenger, Anne McMaster and Sean Gorman. I am indebted to all of them for responding to my requests for information, though none of them carries any responsibility for the content of this paper.

[97]   Minoru Hokari, Gurindji Journey: A Japanese Historian in the Outback, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, NSW, 2011 and review by Martin Flanagan, Age, Life and style, 28 May 2011, p. 30.

[98]   John Harms, ‘Bounced out of footy’s history,’ Age, Insight, 24 May 2008, p. 3.

[99]   Such involvement might have begun in Hamilton in 1867, when the Aboriginal cricketers who were to tour England the following year passed near the town. ‘On Saturday morning the party arrived at Trainor’s Hotel near Hamilton, where they were entertained to dinner by the host. A number of cricketers from Hamilton came out to meet them, with a view to inducing the blacks to play a game at football on Saturday afternoon; but Messrs Lawrence and Hayman declined, as the Hamiltonians had refused to meet them again in the cricket-field. The troupe therefore passed through without making a call, as they were disappointed at the Hamilton Club not wishing to regain the laurels they lost two years since.’ ‘The Black Cricketers,’ from the Warrnambool Examiner, 1 October 1867 as quoted in the Hobart Mercury, Wednesday 16 October 1867, p. 3. This gem was rediscovered by Ian Syson, who alerted me to it. I have strong suspicion that this is not the whole story, since I think that Lawrence and Hayman would have been worried that their youngsters would have suffered injuries playing football in the white man’s style and hence been unable to perform at their best in the important cricket matches coming up. But it is a huge pity that this game never took place since it would have provided some contemporary evidence about relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal football.

[100] Trevor Ruddell, ‘Albert “Pompey” Austin,’ pp. 100–102.

[101] Barry Judd, On the Boundary Line, pp. 76–7. Paul Oliver, What’s the Score? A survey of cultural diversity and racism in Australian sport, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney, 2006, p. 26, incorrectly attributes his premierships to Essendon. Does this reflect the modern involvement of Essendon under Kevin Sheedy in bringing significant numbers of Aboriginal players into the game? I appreciate Barry Judd correcting me about Johnson.

[102] Andrew Demetriou, ‘The Glue that Brings us Together: combating racism in sport’, speech at the 5th Annual Human Rights Oration, 9 December 2005.

[103] There is a risk involved here, in that Aboriginal games may only be studied as if they were or were not precursors of European developments in sport. Ken Edwards insists that Aboriginal games should be considered in their own right and as part of an indigenous culture in all its varieties. His published work reflects this approach including Ken Edwards, ‘Traditional Games of a Timeless Land: Play Cultures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities’, Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, 2009, pp. 32–43.



  1. In all my years of being associated with the Footy Almanac, this is truly the most amazingly comprehensive piece that I have ever seen posted on the site.

    Really brilliantly done Johnhenry (and Paddy). Thanks.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Fantastic work John H and Paddy. This bibliography will be so important to future researchers. Kudos to you JTH for supporting the project on FA and for all who contributed to restoring TW’s resting place last year. Looking forward to catching up at the dinner. Cheers

  3. Brilliant and so comprehensive. Pleased to say I’ve read or got many in my own library.
    Also great to see the images of covers dating way back. I find those depicting the paddocks around the G where the game was played out over several weekends, so evocative.

  4. John Holmes says

    My sincere thanks to John Harms and his ‘Crew’ at the Footy Almanac for hosting the Tom Wills Society page and supporting the growing band of Tom Wills aficionados who wish to acknowledge and perpetuate the significant role TWW played in the founding of our great game of Australian Rules football and co-authoring the first rules of the game.

    It is also important to know of the ‘demons’ that tormented poor Tommy throughout his very sad and very short life and his tragic passing by his own hand. at the age of just 44.

    Thankfully, all football clubs, the AFL Player’s Association, the AFL and other bodies such as LIfeLine Australia (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) to mention just a few are able to offer professional counselling and help for those men and women who find that their daily lives are impossible to cope with.

    Sadly, when Tommy Wills was a tormented and lost soul there was really nowhere for him to turn to for help, had there been we can only wonder what more he had to offer to the development of football and cricket in colonial Australia.
    Dr Greg de Moore got it right when he call him a ‘flawed genius.’
    RIP Tommy

    My thanks must also go to Paddy Grindlay for his time and effort in editing and posting my Tom Wills Bibliography in the hope, that over the years it will be added to and expanded for future generations of students, researchers, authors and historians to access and hopefully write kindly of Tommy and ensure his legacy to sport in Australia is placed front and centre and he is given due recognition for all he achieved as a player, coach and administrator.

  5. Just a picky point, why have you included the endnotes and a couple of pics from one of my articles on Tom Wills, but not the article itself, John and Paddy?

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