australian football, rugby, foundations and Codification

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threenewpadlocks

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Wookie the very fact that the reasoning behind the 1871 meeting - in addition to breakaway from the FA - was to unify the rules "rugby style" football various clubs were playing when they avoided the FA.

If the sport existed before 1871, it then can't logically be true for clubs to play under different rules from a game to game basis if they were playing the same sport. It makes no sense. For a sport to exist a game to game basis needs to be played with fundamentally identical rules. But the games being played by the eventual RFU clubs - when they were not playing under FA rules (which they did a lot also breaking the direct line relationship) had enough variation in it that it can't be considered one singular sport.

Nobody's denying the significant impact that Rugby school rules had on the creation of the 1871 ruleset or that the RFU breakaway clubs were largely Rugby school old boys clubs. Just that they're not literally one and the same sport.
 

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One issue we have in this space, especially in the Australian context is that a lot of "historians" absolutely hate Australian Football so they dedicate their scholastic endeavour towards demolishing the 'mythology' surrounding Australian Football while creating new mythologies about their own preferred sport.

The problem for these "historians" is that Australian Football is rich in source material. We have pretty good knowledge about the history of Australian Football because the source documents still exist.

When we talk about a club forming in the early 1860s, or even 1859, we actually have the source documentation to evidence that historical fact.

So it becomes hard work for these "historians" to demolish the "mythology" surrounding Australian Football and to pump up their own preferred sports.
I find the opposite occurs, primary around Marngrook and its role.
 

RedV3x

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Rugby School continued to make their own modifications for years afterward.
This seems to be the demarcation line. Rules of Rugby School verses rugby as a code.
The general theory of development of Canadian and American Football is that they started by playing rugby but had no written rules.
It seems that even though Rugby school had written down it's rules very early, nobody had taken notice of this.
i.e. people were playing rugby but not to the written rules of Rugby School.
Having no written rules the North Americans experimented just like Australians experimented.
The first set of 10 Colonial Rules in Victoria were written in 1858 but Geelong Rules were quickly accepted three years later (I think)
Later the Victorians looked at South Australian rules of football. People were playing their own version colonial rules.
 

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Gigantor

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Can you elaborate what you mean by "the opposite" to what gigantor described and what marngrook has to do with it?
This is my guess.
Marn Grook is often used by haters of Australian Football as evidence that Australian Football mythologises its history, some even going as far as to suggest that the game of Marn Grook never existed.
When the AFL commissioned a history of the game, the majority of historians could not find any hard evidence of Marn Grook being an influence on the early development of Australian Football, i.e. not really evidence of Australian Football trying to mythologise their history.
One writer, who is not an historian, Martin Flanagan, argues that Marn Grook cannot be dismissed out of hand because of Wills' childhood growing up with the indigenous people of the Western Districts. He spoke the language, played with the indigenous children and in his adult years, took an aboriginal cricket team on tour to England. Some might view that as mythologising, although those making the accusation would not even know about Wills' family history, and as I said, some even don't accept the existence of a game called Marn Grook (despite this being well documented contemporaneously).

On the opposite side, we often find these haters of Australian Football completely speculating about the existence of early clubs (in their preferred code), in the absence of source documents, or how early on certain colours were used or how popular a particular sport was at a given time in history in a given location. At least one soccer writer has worked overtime to downplay the connection Australian Football has with the war experience and the ANZACS, pumping up soccer instead (obviously his preferred code). Of course no mythologising there, I'm sure he was thoroughly objective in his assessment.

It would appear mythologising is in the eye of the beholder, all I would say is that source documentation in relation to Australian Football, going all the way back to 1858-59 is damn good - stacks up very well against any other sport you care to mention, with the exception of perhaps Cricket.
 

BobbyMorri

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This is my guess.
Marn Grook is often used by haters of Australian Football as evidence that Australian Football mythologises its history, some even going as far as to suggest that the game of Marn Grook never existed.
When the AFL commissioned a history of the game, the majority of historians could not find any hard evidence of Marn Grook being an influence on the early development of Australian Football, i.e. not really evidence of Australian Football trying to mythologise their history.
One writer, who is not an historian, Martin Flanagan, argues that Marn Grook cannot be dismissed out of hand because of Wills' childhood growing up with the indigenous people of the Western Districts. He spoke the language, played with the indigenous children and in his adult years, took an aboriginal cricket team on tour to England. Some might view that as mythologising, although those making the accusation would not even know about Wills' family history, and as I said, some even don't accept the existence of a game called Marn Grook (despite this being well documented contemporaneously).

On the opposite side, we often find these haters of Australian Football completely speculating about the existence of early clubs (in their preferred code), in the absence of source documents, or how early on certain colours were used or how popular a particular sport was at a given time in history in a given location. At least one soccer writer has worked overtime to downplay the connection Australian Football has with the war experience and the ANZACS, pumping up soccer instead (obviously his preferred code). Of course no mythologising there, I'm sure he was thoroughly objective in his assessment.

It would appear mythologising is in the eye of the beholder, all I would say is that source documentation in relation to Australian Football, going all the way back to 1858-59 is damn good - stacks up very well against any other sport you care to mention, with the exception of perhaps Cricket.
jatz14 puts in much better words than I could ever about the possible link in the other thread(or above if Wookie moves things around) Personally, I find it a nice story and a founding myth. Lots of those around. But I don't see it

In reply to your actual post, regarding how historians hate Australian footy, well it is their job to record the most likely outcome, not nice stories. Indeed, they seem to get criticized when they state there is little to nothing linking Marngrook to Melbourne Rules. You don't have to be a "hater" to think that. The majority of actual historians agree that no link can be established, to varying degrees. They want to find a link but they just can't.
 
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NoobPie

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This is my guess.
Marn Grook is often used by haters of Australian Football as evidence that Australian Football mythologises its history, some even going as far as to suggest that the game of Marn Grook never existed.
I am sure you are right. I just wanted him to set out how this was an "opposite"


When the AFL commissioned a history of the game, the majority of historians could not find any hard evidence of Marn Grook being an influence on the early development of Australian Football, i.e. not really evidence of Australian Football trying to mythologise their history.
One writer, who is not an historian, Martin Flanagan, argues that Marn Grook cannot be dismissed out of hand because of Wills' childhood growing up with the indigenous people of the Western Districts. He spoke the language, played with the indigenous children and in his adult years, took an aboriginal cricket team on tour to England. Some might view that as mythologising, although those making the accusation would not even know about Wills' family history, and as I said, some even don't accept the existence of a game called Marn Grook (despite this being well documented contemporaneously).

On the opposite side, we often find these haters of Australian Football completely speculating about the existence of early clubs (in their preferred code), in the absence of source documents, or how early on certain colours were used or how popular a particular sport was at a given time in history in a given location. At least one soccer writer has worked overtime to downplay the connection Australian Football has with the war experience and the ANZACS, pumping up soccer instead (obviously his preferred code). Of course no mythologising there, I'm sure he was thoroughly objective in his assessment.
Several Australian based historians with deep soccer sentiments fit this bill.


Roy Hay

Roy Hay co-authored The Story of Football in Victoria and edited The World Game Downunder with Bill Murray. He worked as an academic and journalist, and has been involved in football all his life – as a player, coach, manager, club official and referee. He holds an Honorary Fellowship from Deakin University.

Football has shown that it can bring the entire nation together in international competition. Football has a long and fascinating history in Australia stretching back to the mid-19th century. It is a rich history, closely related to one of the main themes in this country’s development: immigration and the problems of integration of successive generations into a rapidly evolving national identity. A History of Football in Australia tells the story of the game in a lively and provocative account.

From memory he uses some reference to a picnic game of football in early 1850s to assert that soccer has been played in Australian before the founding of Australian football....

...and then nek minute...



Roy Hay and this other dude Ian Syson are the historians on some FFA heritage sub committee


Here is his Ian Syson's twitter feed as a taster....


Why do soccer historians who write hagiography for Australian soccer concern themselves so much with Australian football's history?


Tony Collins (more credible than the above two to be fair) is a british historian with a rugby football focus who has also lent effort to challenging mythology around the origins and development of Australian football. Fair enough that marngrook is suspect through traditional empirically based historical research frameworks.....but the circular logic at play to convince that Australian football is indeed a british sport is breathtaking




Essentially, because a decent majority of the population remained loyal to empire and pan-"britishness", Australian football's claims to national cultural identity are mythologising.

Even when he quotes the likes of Alfred Deakin saying 50 years after the games founding

‘the game is Australian in its origin, Australian in its principle, and, I venture to say, essentially of Australian development. It and every expression of the sporting spirit go to make that manhood which is competent for a nation's tasks.’
It turns out was actual an expression of britishness

The circular reinforcing logic essentially denies in possible claims to Australian national identity
 
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threenewpadlocks

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I am sure you are right. I just wanted him to set out how this was an "opposite"




Several Australian based historians with deep soccer sentiments fit this bill.


Roy Hay



From memory he uses some reference to a picnic game of football in early 1850s to assert that soccer has been played in Australian before the founding of Australian football....

...and then nek minute...



Roy Hay and this other dude Ian Syson are the historians on some FFA heritage sub committee


Here is his Ian Syson's twitter feed as a taster....


Why do soccer historians who write hagiography for Australian soccer concern themselves so much with Australian football's history?


Tony Collins (more credible than the above two to be fair) is a british historian with a rugby football focus who has also lent effort to challenging mythology around the origins and development of Australian football. Fair enough that marngrook is suspect through traditional empirically based historical research frameworks.....but the circular logic at play to convince that Australian football is indeed a british sport is breathtaking




Essentially, because a decent majority of the population remained loyal to empire and pan-"britishness", Australian football's claims to national cultural identity are mythologising.

Even when he quotes the likes of Alfred Deakin saying 50 years after the games founding



It turns out was actual an expression of britishness

The circular reinforcing logic essentially denies in possible claims to Australian national identity
Had a read of that... and claiming that Australian football wasn't a unique expression of Australian approach to football is incredible.

Never mind the fact that Wills and Harrison were from multi generational Australian families (a rarity at that point), there's basically documented evidence that Aus. Football was distinct the same years that the rules were written!

Time and Space, Page 5 references how in 1859 [the same year that the rules were published!] Bell's Life magazine was already complaining about goalsneaks breaking offside, and page 6-7 references a game in 1860 which Wills decided he'd place players ahead of the ball, to hell with informal, unwritten, schoolboy offside.

These developments - playing with no offside - are a uniquely Australian feature of football and were developed before the FA even codified their rules!

Also fair to say that better weather to play in Australia against England has an impact on developing a unique sport, but that can't be explained more directly with documented evidence.
 

NoobPie

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Had a read of that... and claiming that Australian football wasn't a unique expression of Australian approach to football is incredible.

Never mind the fact that Wills and Harrison were from multi generational Australian families (a rarity at that point), there's basically documented evidence that Aus. Football was distinct the same years that the rules were written!

Time and Space, Page 5 references how in 1859 [the same year that the rules were published!] Bell's Life magazine was already complaining about goalsneaks breaking offside, and page 6-7 references a game in 1860 which Wills decided he'd place players ahead of the ball, to hell with informal, unwritten, schoolboy offside.

These developments - playing with no offside - are a uniquely Australian feature of football and were developed before the FA even codified their rules!

Also fair to say that better weather to play in Australia against England has an impact on developing a unique sport, but that can't be explained more directly with documented evidence.
But all you need to do is find one example of each rule or characteristic in one set of rules in england at the time to categorically dismiss it. (Mind you, in an article on rugby football history, Tony Collins draws the analogies between rules and a recipe - but flavour of Australian football was still british apparently)

Likewise, all you need to do ultimately is highlight that Australian nationalism (for many at least) was subordinate to empire during colonial and the decades after federation to then dismiss any claims of motivated national identify of the game as revisionist. You can even do that when an Australian prime minister who played the game makes a speech making repeated references to Australian nationalism and identity and the role of the game in it.
 

Gigantor

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The Australian game is also a child of the specific time and space, i.e. the Melbourne of the late 1850s:
- stacks of land in the heart of Melbourne
- gold rush
- Marvellous Melbourne
- shorter working hours
- prosperity, increased leisure time, even for working men
- egalitarianism

For anyone to suggest Australian Football is not a snapshot of Australia is about as dumbass as things can get.

Add to the above, a bunch of blokes with some knowledge of a variety of football games, and if they want to play together, they need to work out some rules to play together, and thus the 1859 codification, in part, informed by some muck around games the year before.
 

RedV3x

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An interesting article that seems to suggest that football was overlaid on Marngrook rather than Marngrook overlaid on football.


With the discussions on the roots of Australian Football is important always to remember:
1. That colonialists chose NOT to play any contemporary game.
2. It would have ben much easier to go with rugby or soccer.
3. Rugby was the preferred game of the establishment and colonial rules was at the opposite ned of the spectrum.
4. The establishment disowned the game, even trying to ban it, so the the British links are void.
 

Quolls19

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That attitude of “Britishness” lasted a long time in diminishing degree. I can clearly remember my elder relatives referring to the “mother” country in the 1950’s and 60’s when their grandparents were not even born there. Lasted a while for some. Another rather strange thing that was said,often, which I only found out recently was totally erroneous, was the claim from the other side of the family that their heritage was Irish and how proud they were of it.
when one of my family did the family tree, it proved that they were several generations English. I can still remember my old ”Irish” aunt calling a “motherland” uncle “jacky English“. an insult I’m sure. So unless we had a very dominant Irishmen sneak in under the bed covers, so to speak, I can only assume that my great grandfather who grew up in an Irish area wanted to be Irish!!
 

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Here's a direct quote from someone who was right there on the scene at the birth of our game - Tom Will's cousin, HCA Harrison. From chapter 7 of his book "The Story of a new Athlete" -
"... Till the year 1858 no Football had been played in the colony. But when TW Wills arrived from England, fresh from Rugby school ... he suggested that we should make a start with it. he very sensibly advised us not to take up rugby although that had been his own game because he considered it, as then played, unsuitable for grown men ... but to
work out a game of our own. So a number of us, principally cricketers, got together and began to play. It was rather
go-as-you-please affair at first, but a set of rules was gradually evolved, which experience taught us to be the best
..."

The first Australian Football games were, as well documented, played in the "Richmond Paddock" (now part of the MCG concourse and carpark), next to the MCG. As for playing on a cricket ground, the first known occurance was a one-off game in 1859 (outlined in Harrison's book) but regular games were not allowed until 1877, the first year of the VFA.
100% correct!
 

NoobPie

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That attitude of “Britishness” lasted a long time in diminishing degree.
I think "to a diminishing degree" is the critical information here when considering Tony Collins thesis. Clearly there was an emerging national identity whose shoots were very present in the 1850s. The fact that for next 100 years a majority simultaneously considered themselves an Australian national as well as british by birth right and imperial membership does not negate that national identity.

Tony Collins thesis is premised on a false dichotomy which in turn enables him to just identify any reference to "british" to dismiss the that Australian football is entwined with the emergence of Australian nationalism. Most ridiculously in that essay is how he managed to turn a speech

-by one of the nations founders (in terms of federation)
-at an Australian National Football Conference
-packed full of references to the game and nationalism, culture and identity

into something that confirms his thesis because it finishes with the phrase "....to stand by the old land"
 

Quolls19

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100% correct!
no it isn’t.
just a few examples of football related articles in the press before 1858:

26/12/1838 at Mrs Hordens. Just landed, a large assortment ...dolls... footballs....cricket bats.

17/6/1850 Border games to be held 12/8/1850 Foot-ball entrance fee five shillings ten pound to the winning side.

12/8/1850 Port Phillip/Border Games included foot-ball.

18/11/1850 Geelong celebrations included foot-ball.

26/8/1850 (a) Melbourne race course, the long awaited game of football came off.


and Wills arrived back in Victorian In 1856, so he did not immediately do anything about football. His main interest was cricket.
if you read his letter to bells in 1858 he is saying that a football club should be formed and clearly implying that someone else should do it, never says he is forming one. Bryants notification in Bells 1859 is much closer to someone taking the initiative in forming a club.
Wills administration and organisation skills were known to be wanting even at this time.
Harrisons Book was written around 1922, a long time after the events, contemporary records from the late 1850’s early 60’s show that his memory failed on certain details, understandable considering his age and lack of access to contemporary records and also at this time, and before, the press had embellished his role as “the father of football“ mainly due to Wills falling out with some very influential journalist, his lifestyle and the circumstances of his death. Harrison living a lot longer than the early instigators of football also helped. Wills rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and he was remembered and written about accordingly.
Wills was responsible for getting Harrison, who was an outstanding sportsman, involved in football fairly early on.
Harrison only became influential in the game after Wills was pretty much ignored. Harrison became a great administrator and was responsible for introducing some of the rules that makes Australian Rules Australian rules such as bouncing the ball.
he was not part of the first rules committee or administration.
 

RedV3x

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100% correct!
Technically wrong. some ad hoc games of football existed.
It is recorded that Irish played football in Sydney in 1829.
"The 57th and 39th are Irish regiments, and shew considerable ability in the practice of one of their national recreations."
"The privates and others of the garrison have lately been amusing themselves more than usual in the ordinary practice of foot-ball, in the Barrack Square, and a healthful exercise is foot-ball."
In Melbourne there were some ad hoc games of rugby recorded, but the colonials of Melbourne created their own rules
rather than adopt existing rules for the formation of clubs.
 
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NoobPie

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no it isn’t.
just a few examples of football related articles in the press before 1858:

26/12/1838 at Mrs Hordens. Just landed, a large assortment ...dolls... footballs....cricket bats.

17/6/1850 Border games to be held 12/8/1850 Foot-ball entrance fee five shillings ten pound to the winning side.

12/8/1850 Port Phillip/Border Games included foot-ball.

18/11/1850 Geelong celebrations included foot-ball.

26/8/1850 (a) Melbourne race course, the long awaited game of football came off.


and Wills arrived back in Victorian In 1856, so he did not immediately do anything about football. His main interest was cricket.
if you read his letter to bells in 1858 he is saying that a football club should be formed and clearly implying that someone else should do it, never says he is forming one. Bryants notification in Bells 1859 is much closer to someone taking the initiative in forming a club.
Wills administration and organisation skills were known to be wanting even at this time.
Harrisons Book was written around 1922, a long time after the events, contemporary records from the late 1850’s early 60’s show that his memory failed on certain details, understandable considering his age and lack of access to contemporary records and also at this time, and before, the press had embellished his role as “the father of football“ mainly due to Wills falling out with some very influential journalist, his lifestyle and the circumstances of his death. Harrison living a lot longer than the early instigators of football also helped. Wills rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and he was remembered and written about accordingly.
Wills was responsible for getting Harrison, who was an outstanding sportsman, involved in football fairly early on.
Harrison only became influential in the game after Wills was pretty much ignored. Harrison became a great administrator and was responsible for introducing some of the rules that makes Australian Rules Australian rules such as bouncing the ball.
he was not part of the first rules committee or administration.
I think you like to split hairs and play the semantics a bit. HCA Harrison was, at the latest, involved in the game within a year.

The statement "Till the year 1858 no Football had been played in the colony" was clearly accurate to Harrison's memory and understanding in the 1920s, including to what he meant by football (and presumably he wrote it with a capital F.)
 

RedV3x

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The statement "Till the year 1858 no Football had been played in the colony" was clearly accurate to Harrison's memory and understanding in the 1920s, including to what he meant by football (and presumably he wrote it with a capital F.)
So Football (with a capital 'F') belongs to Australia..
 

Quolls19

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I think you like to split hairs and play the semantics a bit. HCA Harrison was, at the latest, involved in the game within a year.

The statement "Till the year 1858 no Football had been played in the colony" was clearly accurate to Harrison's memory and understanding in the 1920s, including to what he meant by football (and presumably he wrote it with a capital F.)
No splitting hairs, either football was played before 1858 in Victoria or the greater colony earlier, or not.
and it certainly was. Not a regular weekly type of organised recreation, but certainly scratch matches and organised event games played for money.
now I did say about his memory failing.
and as for “what he meant by football” now that’s semantics.
Harrison was a dominant player very early, no doubt, known as an outstanding athlete.
he was a member of the Richmond football committee in 1860.
he was not a Melbourne football committee member until 1864, it was at this time he became dominant in the administration of the game.
he wrote and presented the 1866 rule changes to the rules committee without their input.
no doubt greatly influential but not in the initial set up.
 

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No splitting hairs, either football was played before 1858 in Victoria or the greater colony earlier, or not.
and it certainly was. Not a regular weekly type of organised recreation, but certainly scratch matches and organised event games played for money.
now I did say about his memory failing.
and as for “what he meant by football” now that’s semantics.
Harrison was a dominant player very early, no doubt, known as an outstanding athlete.
he was a member of the Richmond football committee in 1860.
he was not a Melbourne football committee member until 1864, it was at this time he became dominant in the administration of the game.
he wrote and presented the 1866 rule changes to the rules committee without their input.
no doubt greatly influential but not in the initial set up.
Harrison was not at the 1859 hotel meeting in Melbourne that set up the first written Rule Set. I was surprised when I found that out. Harrison was later called the father of football - My response to that bull toss- I am in the Wills camp in which I donated funds to refurbish his grave a while back.
Wills was the prime mover in 1859 and is never recognised as such. There would be no game today without him.
 

NoobPie

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No splitting hairs, either football was played before 1858 in Victoria or the greater colony earlier, or not.
and it certainly was. Not a regular weekly type of organised recreation, but certainly scratch matches and organised event games played for money.

now I did say about his memory failing.
and as for “what he meant by football” now that’s semantics.
It is semantics it is not playing semantics. We don't know what Harrison meant when he said it.

There is also very very little detail about what people meant by "football" in the dozen or so references in Australia (a few of them in the colony of Victoria) before 1958, and so whether Harrison was unaware of it or that he was specifically referring to what became to him "Football" or any formalised competition.
 
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Quolls19

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I’m a bit of a Bryant man myself, I think all the major players. Wills, Thompson, Hammersley, Smith and a little later Sewell were all incredibly important, but I think Bryant restarted the ball rolling when it had stalled. For commercial reasons or sporting reasons, I don’t know, but he did place the 1859 ad, supplied the equipment, had the contacts, place and booze.
Harrison certainly grabbed hold of the game from, maybe 64, but certainly from 66. however it was well established by then.
 

Quolls19

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Harrison was not at the 1859 hotel meeting in Melbourne that set up the first written Rule Set. I was surprised when I found that out. Harrison was later called the father of football - My response to that bull toss- I am in the Wills camp in which I donated funds to refurbish his grave a while back.
Wills was the prime mover in 1859 and is never recognised as such. There would be no game today without him.
Yes you are and it serves no purpose.
Please explain.
 

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