Research Origin of Australian Football's Gaelic Origin Myth [+Marngrook]

SpareTowel

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This is what I've been able to find after combing Trove. If anyone has found an older source that notes a resemblance, or claims an influence, between the two codes, then I'd love to see it.

The first person I can find who notes a similarity between the Australian and Gaelic codes is an Australian rugby footballer, on visit to Great Britain, in 1911. He "saw a good deal of the Gaelic game, which is very similar to Australian rules, the main differences being that a Soccer ball is used, the ball must be bounced every three yards, and a cross-bar is used on the goal posts."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129932444

The next example I found, published just over a week later, leads me to believe that similarities between the two codes were observed earlier than 1911. It's a letter to the editor, and notes that "Reference has been made at times in sporting papers and magazines to the similarity of Australian rules football to the Gaelic game as generally played in Ireland." The writer goes on to say that Catholic schoolboys in Australia "should be induced to visit Ireland, and there demonstrate how Australia is akin to Ireland in the football world ... The Australian game is open, free, and scientific, and is deserving of all the sentiment that may be accorded a national sport."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105016951

Another early find, from 1912: "The Gaelic game of Ireland, in some features, resembles the Australian game. It is played 17 aside, and goals and points are scored, as are goals and behinds in Australia, though in the Gaelic game a goal counts only 3 points."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122761285

The first person I can find who links the Gaelic game to the origins of Australian football is an Irish sportswriter who witnessed an exhibition game of Australian football in London, 1917: "Once upon a time some young immigrants met in Australia and fell to talking of the games they used to play at home. They were all fond of football, and they agreed that it would be a good scheme to get up a match. But a difficulty arose, because they had been players under different rules - some Rugby, some Association, and some Gaelic. Discussion and experiment followed, and resulted in the evolution of what was a compromise between the three original games, with some entirely new features of its own."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120292632

There's a fairly long dry spell after this. Then there's this 1924 letter to the Editor of a Sydney newspaper: "... the great, scientific Australian game is based on Gaelic lines (as, for instance, hurling and "soccer"), inasmuch as it is not hampered by any off-side rule or the rough and unsightly scrimmage: it is a bright and open, fast game."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115296635

The great Jack Worrall writes in 1926: "I have always understood that there is a great resemblance between our game and the Irish one - which is called Gaelic - it appears that the similarity is remarkable, the principal difference being that they play with a round ball, while the ball we use is allied to the one played in the Rugby code." The next part is illuminating: "The evolution of all games is interesting, and none more so than ours. I was speaking to the father of the game (Mr. H. C. A. Harrison) last Saturday, and the news that our code somewhat resembled the Irish one rather surprised him. The desire of Mr. Harrison and his cousin T. W. Wills was to improve upon Rugby, and that they succeeded is a matter of history. But when our game was in its infancy the desire was for a round ball - why, I know not - but as it was not procurable they got a Rugby one instead."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142160505

In a 1939 article titled "Types of Football We Know Little About: Not Australian Rules Gone Wrong: Rules of the Gaelic Code in Ireland": "It is not generally known in Australia that there is established in Ireland a special brand of football known as the Gaelic game. It was popular in Dublin 400 years ago - 40 or 50 players a side. Modernised, it is fashioned on the Rugby principles, has since broadened out, and as played now is in some respects akin to the Australian game."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127604633

By the 1940s, it seems the idea that Australian football is an offshoot of Gaelic football, or a hybrid of Gaelic and Rugby, had gained currency, however I don't think it was the pervasive meme that it is today. I'll end with this beauty from a 1951 article titled "Can We Talk of a National Culture?":

"Australian Rules is the biggest crowd-drawer in the Commonwealth, outstripping by a vast margin even Test cricket matches. The game was created by an Englishman, H. C. Harrison, who came to Australia with a determination to Australianise himself in every way. He made a hotch-potch of the best features of Rugby, Soccer, American grid-iron and Gaelic football. Australia was a land of wide open spaces - therefore the game must have a very big playing field. Kangaroos were one of our fauna - so springing and jumping should be a feature of the game."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article98349926
 
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SpareTowel

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I have searched other keyword combinations and this, from 1909, is now the oldest source: "An old New South Wales footballer writes me from Killarney, where he was then spending a holiday. He witnessed a match for the National Football Championship, under Gaelic Rules, played at Thuries on a Sunday afternoon, between Dublin and Kerry. It was for the All Championship of Ireland, and is the game played practically all over Ireland. It is practically the same as the Victorian Rules, or Australian game, only a Soccer ball is used instead of the Rugby ball, and the goal-posts are the same as in Association football. The minor posts and the mode of scoring are the same as in Victoria."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120634855
 

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I have searched other keyword combinations and this, from 1909, is now the oldest source: "An old New South Wales footballer writes me from Killarney, where he was then spending a holiday. He witnessed a match for the National Football Championship, under Gaelic Rules, played at Thuries on a Sunday afternoon, between Dublin and Kerry. It was for the All Championship of Ireland, and is the game played practically all over Ireland. It is practically the same as the Victorian Rules, or Australian game, only a Soccer ball is used instead of the Rugby ball, and the goal-posts are the same as in Association football. The minor posts and the mode of scoring are the same as in Victoria."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120634855
Gaelic football at one time had behind posts, if you are interested there is a theory floating around that the rules (codification) of Gaelic football are based on Australian football, don't get me wrong, because i am in no way suggesting that AF is older than Gaelic, that would be ridiculous, Gaelic football in many different forms has probably been around for thousands of years, but codifying it makes the rules easier to understand and different areas ( countys) can all use the same rules.

The theory goes something like this, Archbishop Croke was a founding father of the GAA in Ireland, he was also between 1870 and 1875 head of the Catholic Church in NZ through a posting, in NZ at the time there was a gold rush and thousands of Irish who learnt the Australian game in the goldfields of Victoria migrated to NZ, and Croke would have seen the game played in NZ and possibly realised the importance of codifying a game ( Gaelic football)

On his return to NZ he was clearly involved in codifying Gaelic football in 1887, and supported Irish nationalism, so taking ideas from AF would probably have made sense, if you look at the thread about QLD and NZ i have posted quite a few letters and articles stating that many English people considered AF to be non-British and a bastard child and a game not befitting of proper Englishmen.

http://www.irishecho.com.au/2010/10/06/is-gaelic-football-based-on-afl/6203

A new set of updated Australian laws would be created in 1866, and it is on this set of rules that Maurice Davin, in 1885, looks likely to have based the new laws of Gaelic Football. In typical Irish fashion, it’s a long and winding story.
Davin, the first president of the GAA, had in late 1884 been tasked with writing the first formal set of rules for the game of Caid – a sport that would become, upon the completion of the process, Gaelic Football.



By the end of 1868, Thames found itself with a largely Irish-dominated population of more than 18,000, most of whom spent their evenings on the Australian Rules football fields.

Croke became Bishop of Auckland in 1870 and the following year he visited the Thames region, and became chaplain of the newly-created Hibernian Association.

In 1875, Croke was on his way back to Ireland, having been appointed to the post of Archbishop of Cashel, and to a new home in Co Tipperary that was a few kilometres down the road from Maurice Davin’s farm in Carrick-On-Suir.

In December 1884, at exactly the time Davin was busy formulating the new rules of Gaelic Football, Croke accepted an invitation from the newly-formed GAA to become its first patron.

In February 1885, the first rules of Gaelic Football were published in the United Ireland magazine, and Australian fingerprints were everywhere.

The similarities between the 10 founding rules of Gaelic football and the 1866 revised rules of Australian football were plain for all to see.
Overall, the only real differences between the 1866 Aussie Rules and those of Davin lay in minor alterations to restart rules and pitch sizes.
The goalposts changed [in Ireland], and the ball altered shape from round to oval [in Australia], but the basic ethos of the two sports remained fundamentally the same. So similar, in fact, that to this day a hybrid series can still exist.
 

SpareTowel

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It would be interesting to know if the Gaelic game arrived at an open, free-flowing style of play on its own or copied the Australian game. Revisions to the laws of Australian football in the early 1870s discouraged scrummages, which opened the game up, and by 1880 it was basically the game we recognise today. If the 1885 rules of Gaelic football were an adaptation of the 1866 Victorian code, then it seems it would have taken the Irish game longer to evolve, hence why observers didn't notice similarities between the two games until the 1900s.
 
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fabulousphil

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The original AF laws of 1866 ......

RULES
  1. The distance between the goals shall not be more than 200 yards; and the width of playing place, to be measured equally on each side of a line drawn through the centre of the goals, not more than 150 yards. The goal-posts shall be seven yards apart, of unlimited height.
  2. The captains on each side shall toss for choice of goal; the side losing the toss, or a goal, has the kick off from the centre point between the goals. After a goal is kicked the sides shall change ends.
  3. A goal must be kicked fairly between the posts without touching either of them, or any portion of the person of one of the opposite side. In case of the ball being forced (except with the hands or arms) between the goal-posts in a scrummage a goal shall be awarded.
  4. Two posts, to be called the "kick-off" posts, shall be erected at a distance of twenty yards on each side of the goal posts, and in a straight line with them.
  5. In case the ball is kicked behind goal, any one of the sides behind whose goal it is kicked may bring it twenty yards in front of any portion of the space between the "kick-off" posts, and shall kick it towards the opposite goal.
  6. Any player catching the ball directly from the foot or leg may call "mark;" he then has a free kick from any spot in a line with his mark and the centre of his opponents goal-posts; no player being allowed to come inside the spot marked, or within five yards in any other direction.
  7. Tripping and hacking are strictly prohibited. Pushing with the hands or body is allowed; when any player is in rapid motion. Holding is only allowed while a player has the ball in hand, except in the case provided in rule 6.
  8. The ball may be taken in hand at any time, but not carried further than is necessary for a kick ; and no player shall run with the ball unless he strikes it against the ground in every five or six yards.
  9. When a ball goes out of bounds (the same being indicated by a row of posts) it shall be brought back to the point where it crossed the boundary-line, and thrown in at right angles with that line.
  10. The ball while in play may under no circumstances be thrown.
  11. In case of deliberate infringement of any of the above rules, the captain of the opposite side may claim that any one of his party may have a free kick from the place where the breach of rule was made.
12 Before the commencement of a match each side shall appoint an umpire, and they shall be the sole judges of goals and breaches of rules. The nearest umpire shall be appealed to in every case of dispute.


The original laws of Gaelic football in 1887 .....


1. There shall not be less than 15 or more than 21 players a-side.

2. There shall be two umpires and a referee. Where the umpires disagree, the
referee's decision shall be final.

3. The ground shall be at least 120 yards long and 80 yards in breadth and
properly marked by boundary lines. Boundary lines are to be at least five
yards from the fences.

4. Goal posts shall stand at each end in the centre of the goal-line. They shall be
15 feet apart, with the cross-bar eight feet from the ground.

5. The captains of each team shall toss for choice of sides before commencing
play. The players shall stand in two ranks opposite each other, until the ball
is thrown up, with each man holding the hand of one of the other side.

6. Pushing or tripping from behind, holding from behind, or butting with the
head shall be deemed a foul. Players so offending shall be asked to stand
aside and may not afterwards take any part in the match, nor can his side
substitute another man.

7. The time of actual play shall be one hour. The sides are to be changed at halftime.

8. The match shall be decided by the greater number of goals. If no goal is
kicked, the match shall be deemed a draw. A goal is scored when the ball is
kicked through the goal-posts and under the cross-bar.

9. When the ball is kicked over the side-line it shall be thrown back in any
direction by a player of the other side. If kicked over the goal-line by a player
of the other side, the goal-keeper whose line it crosses shall have a free kick.
No player on the other side is to approach nearer than 25 yards of him till the
ball is kicked.

10. The umpires and referee shall have, during the match, full power to
disqualify any player or order him to stand aside and discontinue play for any
act which they may consider unfair as set out in rule six.
 

fabulousphil

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It would be interesting to know if the Gaelic game arrived at an open, free-flowing style of play on its own or copied the Australian game. Revisions to the laws of Australian football in the early 1870s discouraged scrimmages, which opened the game up, and by 1880 it was basically the game we recognise today. If the 1885 rules of Gaelic football were an adaptation of the 1866 Victorian code, then it seems it would have taken the Irish game longer to evolve, hence why observers didn't notice similarities between the two games until the 1900s.
I personally can see a few similarities between the 1866 AF rules and the 1887 (5) Gaelic rules, the big difference for mine in creating a far more open game is the shape of the ball, International rules games seem much more open, Gaelic football has always used a round ball, it is far easier to judge etc.

I really wonder if this theory that Gaelic football (codification) is really based on the 1866 Victorian rules has legs, MO would be yes, what do you think ?.
 

SpareTowel

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I personally can see a few similarities between the 1866 AF rules and the 1887 (5) Gaelic rules, the big difference for mine in creating a far more open game is the shape of the ball, International rules games seem much more open, Gaelic football has always used a round ball, it is far easier to judge etc.

I really wonder if this theory that Gaelic football (codification) is really based on the 1866 Victorian rules has legs, MO would be yes, what do you think ?.
I can't really see a resemblance to be honest. It seems the Gaelic footballers caught on to the Australian features of bouncing, and behind posts, some time later. Those 1887 Gaelic rules must have resulted in the most choatic of games. The following reference from 1893 is in fact the earliest I can find that mentions the Gaelic game in the same breath as the Victorian/Australian game:

"Football in Ireland may be said to consist of three parts - Rugbeian, Associationist, and Gaelic. The rule of play in these organisations has been defined as follows: - In Rugby you kick the ball; in Association, you kick the man if you cannot kick the ball; in Gaelic, you kick the ball if you cannot kick the man." In the Victorian game, they kick the central umpire."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66859634

This is where the Australian game was at a full decade before those 1887 Gaelic rules:

 

fabulousphil

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I can't really see a resemblance to be honest. It seems the Gaelic footballers caught on to the Australian features of bouncing, and behind posts, some time later. Those 1887 Gaelic rules must have resulted in the most choatic of games. The following reference from 1893 is in fact the earliest I can find that mentions the Gaelic game in the same breath as the Victorian/Australian game:

"Football in Ireland may be said to consist of three parts - Rugbeian, Associationist, and Gaelic. The rule of play in these organisations has been defined as follows: - In Rugby you kick the ball; in Association, you kick the man if you cannot kick the ball; in Gaelic, you kick the ball if you cannot kick the man." In the Victorian game, they kick the central umpire."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66859634

This is where the Australian game was at a full decade before those 1887 Gaelic rules:

If you never saw a game of Gaelic or AF and read the rules to see how to play, i think the game that you would play would look nothing like how the game is meant to have been played.

From reading those rules of 1866 i can see how the behind posts eventuated, which is quite interesting.

Association football rules ( soccer) came out in 1863 and it is possible Croke and Devaney used those as well in 1887, original rules in soccer allowed for the picking up of the ball by hand.

But i get the feeling that because of Irish nationalism, and anti British sentiment that if they were used , it was a big no no to admit, that is why i think AF rules/influence have been used, its possible that Croke and/or Devaney were unaware that some initial AF rules came from the Rugby Rules ( another British schoolboy game )
 

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If you never saw a game of Gaelic or AF and read the rules to see how to play, i think the game that you would play would look nothing like how the game is meant to have been played.

From reading those rules of 1866 i can see how the behind posts eventuated, which is quite interesting.

Association football rules ( soccer) came out in 1863 and it is possible Croke and Devaney used those as well in 1887, original rules in soccer allowed for the picking up of the ball by hand.

But i get the feeling that because of Irish nationalism, and anti British sentiment that if they were used , it was a big no no to admit, that is why i think AF rules/influence have been used, its possible that Croke and/or Devaney were unaware that some initial AF rules came from the Rugby Rules ( another British schoolboy game )
I would search Ireland's online newspaper database but you have to pay for a subscription (screw that), so I'm not entirely sure regarding influences. But it's true that there was a strong anti-British sentiment. I don't know if it was there from the game's inception or became more pronounced later on. I'd say half of the Gaelic football-related refs I found on Trove are about just that...

"There is a game called Gaelic football played by fervent patriots in Ireland; enthusiasts are anxious to see it supplant Rugby - a foreign game to which the Irish youth was getting addicted. In the Free State, strong measures are being taken to kill off Rugby. In Galway, any boy holding a county scholarship will lose it if he is found watching a Rugby match. Gaelic football can't be much of a game when such coercive measures are found necessary to commend it to the youth of the nation."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55348516
 

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While football in Melbourne was being codified with written rules, in Ireland:

"As recently as the mid-1800’s, a typical game of football in Ireland involved hundreds of people playing
across miles of open countryside, with the obligatory frequent pauses for bouts of wrestling and fist fighting.
The object of the game seems to have been to spend the day crossing fields while eluding flying fists and
sprawling legs. The ball was more of an accessory, and the game was a social event as much as a sporting one
(O’Heihir, 1984)"

Quoted in "The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association"
Jaime Orejan, PhD, Elon University:

Who later states, (without evidence) "Gaelic football can best be described as a mixture of football association and rugby, although it predates both of those games. It is a field game which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian Rules football. It is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic football through the many thousands of Irish people who were either deported or emigrated to Australia from the middle of the twentieth century (All about football, n.d.)"

Full article: http://www.thesmartjournal.com/GAA.pdf
There may have been some cross-fertilisation from people who had played or seen what was being played in Ireland and Australia in the last third of the 19th century, but there is no definite evidence of the officiating bodies of both games, referencing or quoting the other's rules in the period. (Noting too that there was not much to-ing and fro-ing between Ireland and Australia at the time - a journey to Australia was nearly always a final destination.)

It may be more likely that Australian and Gaelic Football are examples of convergent evolution.
 

fabulousphil

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While football in Melbourne was being codified with written rules, in Ireland:

"As recently as the mid-1800’s, a typical game of football in Ireland involved hundreds of people playing
across miles of open countryside, with the obligatory frequent pauses for bouts of wrestling and fist fighting.
The object of the game seems to have been to spend the day crossing fields while eluding flying fists and
sprawling legs. The ball was more of an accessory, and the game was a social event as much as a sporting one
(O’Heihir, 1984)"

Quoted in "The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association"
Jaime Orejan, PhD, Elon University:

Who later states, (without evidence) "Gaelic football can best be described as a mixture of football association and rugby, although it predates both of those games. It is a field game which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian Rules football. It is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic football through the many thousands of Irish people who were either deported or emigrated to Australia from the middle of the twentieth century (All about football, n.d.)"

Full article: http://www.thesmartjournal.com/GAA.pdf
There may have been some cross-fertilisation from people who had played or seen what was being played in Ireland and Australia in the last third of the 19th century, but there is no definite evidence of the officiating bodies of both games, referencing or quoting the other's rules in the period. (Noting too that there was not much to-ing and fro-ing between Ireland and Australia at the time - a journey to Australia was nearly always a final destination.)

It may be more likely that Australian and Gaelic Football are examples of convergent evolution.
Possible, but IMO the more likely is that Irish in Australia took to the new type football because it was similar in many ways to Gaelic football, the real hotbed, heartland of football has always been Central Victoria IMO rather than Melbourne in the early days, although the big population of Melbourne obviously drew the best footballers more and more as time progressed.

I would be interested to know when the handball in Gaelic football was invented, did take that from AF or vice versa ?.

Wills/Harrison did visit the Goldfields before they wrote the rules, did they see Irish playing a form of Gaelic football and noted them ?.

I guess i am asking did Wills and Harrison take from Gaelic football some ideas, throw it in with his rugby background and rules and by doing so make the game appeal culturally to both Irish and English, rmembering of course that like today, but even more so Irish and English were chalk and cheese in quite a few aspects.

I just can't imagine the Irish ( nationalists and/or Catholics) taking to a game that they considered primarily so English, rugby like cricket is considered a very English game.
 
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SpareTowel

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Possible, but IMO the more likely is that Irish in Australia took to the new type football because it was similar in many ways to Gaelic football, the real hotbed, heartland of football has always been Central Victoria IMO rather than Melbourne in the early days, although the big population of Melbourne obviously drew the best footballers more and more as time progressed.

I would be interested to know when the handball in Gaelic football was invented, did Gaelic take that from AF or vice versa ?.

Wills/Harrison did visit the Goldfields before they wrote the rules, did they see Irish playing a form of Gaelic football and noted them ?.
When did Wills visit the goldfields?

According to Gillian Hibbins and Trevor Ruddell, "there is no mention of a colonial version of Gaelic football, and no positive evidence that one existed." In his autobiography Harrison recalled playing AF against Irish soldiers stationed in Melbourne in the late 1860s:

"They played with their trousers tucked into their heavy boots, and with coloured handkerchiefs tied round their heads. They were mostly big, heavy men, and their appearance was pretty awe inspiring! They had a playful way too, of kicking an opponent in the shins to make him drop the ball. As captain, I once protested that such tactics were against the rules, but the only satisfaction I got was the forceful reply, “To H- with your rules! We’re playing the – Irish rules.” I have bruises on my shins to this day received in these encounters."
 

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By the 1940s, it seems the idea that Australian football is an offshoot of Gaelic football, or a hybrid of Gaelic and Rugby, had gained currency, however I don't think it was the pervasive meme that it is today. I'll end with this beauty from a 1951 article titled "Can We Talk of a National Culture?":

"Australian Rules is the biggest crowd-drawer in the Commonwealth, outstripping by a vast margin even Test cricket matches. The game was created by an Englishman, H. C. Harrison, who came to Australia with a determination to Australianise himself in every way. He made a hotch-potch of the best features of Rugby, Soccer, American grid-iron and Gaelic football. Australia was a land of wide open spaces - therefore the game must have a very big playing field. Kangaroos were one of our fauna - so springing and jumping should be a feature of the game."
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article98349926
Hilarious.
 

fabulousphil

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When did Wills visit the goldfields?

According to Gillian Hibbins and Trevor Ruddell, "there is no mention of a colonial version of Gaelic football, and no positive evidence that one existed." In his autobiography Harrison recalled playing AF against Irish soldiers stationed in Melbourne in the late 1860s:

"They played with their trousers tucked into their heavy boots, and with coloured handkerchiefs tied round their heads. They were mostly big, heavy men, and their appearance was pretty awe inspiring! They had a playful way too, of kicking an opponent in the shins to make him drop the ball. As captain, I once protested that such tactics were against the rules, but the only satisfaction I got was the forceful reply, “To H- with your rules! We’re playing the – Irish rules.” I have bruises on my shins to this day received in these encounters."

Do remember reading it somewhere, have been trying to find it, but obviously when he returned from England in 1856/7.

AFA the Irish go there was a distinct difference between nationalist/Catholics from the south of Ireland and Protestants /Royalsist from the North of Ireland, i am not sure whether the Irish regiments in Melbourne were one or the other or a mixture, if they were north they may have been influenced by British games. ( rugby)

To this day, it is extremely rare for a non Catholic/nationalist to play Gaelic games ( Gaelic football, hurling etc )
 

fabulousphil

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When did Wills visit the goldfields?

According to Gillian Hibbins and Trevor Ruddell, "there is no mention of a colonial version of Gaelic football, and no positive evidence that one existed." In his autobiography Harrison recalled playing AF against Irish soldiers stationed in Melbourne in the late 1860s:

"They played with their trousers tucked into their heavy boots, and with coloured handkerchiefs tied round their heads. They were mostly big, heavy men, and their appearance was pretty awe inspiring! They had a playful way too, of kicking an opponent in the shins to make him drop the ball. As captain, I once protested that such tactics were against the rules, but the only satisfaction I got was the forceful reply, “To H- with your rules! We’re playing the – Irish rules.” I have bruises on my shins to this day received in these encounters."
That regiment moved on from Melbourne to Perth and ......



The Fremantle Herald responded to interest aroused by the match at the port by publishing a set of rules from Cassell's Out Door Games, but these were Rugbeian laws which had been initially adopted by the (English) Football Association in London in 1863. Victorian clubs had formulated their own uniform rules in 1866, but according to Harrison the Fourteenth Foot had refused to play under them. When he had complained about their hacking in 1867, the soldiers told him “To Hell with your rules. We're playing the - Irish rules”.

http://australianfootball.com/articles/view/The+Fourteenth+Foot/263
 

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Possible, but IMO the more likely is that Irish in Australia took to the new type football because it was similar in many ways to Gaelic football, the real hotbed, heartland of football has always been Central Victoria IMO rather than Melbourne in the early days, although the big population of Melbourne obviously drew the best footballers more and more as time progressed.

I would be interested to know when the handball in Gaelic football was invented, did take that from AF or vice versa ?.

Wills/Harrison did visit the Goldfields before they wrote the rules, did they see Irish playing a form of Gaelic football and noted them ?.

I guess i am asking did Wills and Harrison take from Gaelic football some ideas, throw it in with his rugby background and rules and by doing so make the game appeal culturally to both Irish and English, rmembering of course that like today, but even more so Irish and English were chalk and cheese in quite a few aspects.

I just can't imagine the Irish ( nationalists and/or Catholics) taking to a game that they considered primarily so English, rugby like cricket is considered a very English game.
Wills played football under rugby rules at Rubgy school. The stated aim of he and Harrison in 1858/9 was to devise a modified form of the game to keep cricketers fit during the winter and thus a game, the rules of which would be less likely to cause injury. Irish folk football of the 1850s "a typical game of football in Ireland involved hundreds of people playing across miles of open countryside ", (involving as much fighting as football) doesn't sound like it would even be an influence.

What was being played in Ireland at the time , sounds like many of the types of folk football played in Britain and in Europe for centuries of the type banned by King Edward II of England in 1314 and a number of his successors on and off.

Glasgow Herald (Scotland) September 22 1937



Not conclusive, but "an artificial code with no historical developments", links its origins to the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 when it was first codified. A combination of rugby and soccer as they were played in 1884 with some elements of the Irish indigenous game of hurling, can easily explain the origin of the game codified by the GAA.

The above is from a quick search of the Google News Archive http://news.google.com/newspapers. If anyone can find a reported statement that any officiating body of either Gaelic or Australian football claiming that it adopted the rules of the other or based its rules on them, (until the invention of the 'International Rules') I'll be amazed. Noting that at the time of formation of the GAA, it had elements of a secret society associated with the Irish struggle for independence and its doings in 1884 may not have been reported in the mainstream press.

You all know what is referred to in the last paragraph of the Glasgow Herald item, don't you?
 

fabulousphil

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Wills played football under rugby rules at Rubgy school. The stated aim of he and Harrison in 1858/9 was to devise a modified form of the game to keep cricketers fit during the winter and thus a game, the rules of which would be less likely to cause injury. Irish folk football of the 1850s "a typical game of football in Ireland involved hundreds of people playing across miles of open countryside ", (involving as much fighting as football) doesn't sound like it would even be an influence.

What was being played in Ireland at the time , sounds like many of the types of folk football played in Britain and in Europe for centuries of the type banned by King Edward II of England in 1314 and a number of his successors on and off.

Glasgow Herald (Scotland) September 22 1937



Not conclusive, but "an artificial code with no historical developments", links its origins to the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 when it was first codified. A combination of rugby and soccer as they were played in 1884 with some elements of the Irish indigenous game of hurling, can easily explain the origin of the game codified by the GAA.

The above is from a quick search of the Google News Archive http://news.google.com/newspapers. If anyone can find a reported statement that any officiating body of either Gaelic or Australian football claiming that it adopted the rules of the other or based its rules on them, (until the invention of the 'International Rules') I'll be amazed. Noting that at the time of formation of the GAA, it had elements of a secret society associated with the Irish struggle for independence and its doings in 1884 may not have been reported in the mainstream press.

You all know what is referred to in the last paragraph of the Glasgow Herald item, don't you?
Totally agree, but for the life of me, how did someone manage to link the codefied rules of Gaelic in 1887 to AF rules of 1866 arising from a Catholic Archbishop returning from a posting in NZ.

That is some conspiracy theory, either that is a fantastic imagination, someone is taking the absolute piss, or there is actually some credence to it.

..............................

A big reason for the GAA forming was to promote Irish ( nationalist ) games, i would imagine that Irish Regiments under control of the British Army would not be Nationalist in their outlook or would have Irish Nationalists ( Officers) in control of them, so it would hardly be suprising that they favoured British games rather than Irish ones, and as for saying they preferred the Irish rules, they may have been local Northern Irish rules which favoured the British rugby/soccer games, even the Northern Irish ( royalist/Protestants) still consider themselves Irish to an extent.

TBH the more i look into it, the more convoluted it becomes, but i guess that is history for you.
 

fabulousphil

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Was the handball, handpass used in rugby, harrow, eton etc rules, where did that rule come from, to a non AF person that seems a bit weird, and how long has it been part of Gaelic football.

The solo in Gaelic is a bit like a variation of bouncing the ball, how long has that been in Gaelic, if AF has still been using a round ball, would the games have more similar than what they are now.
 

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Totally agree, but for the life of me, how did someone manage to link the codefied rules of Gaelic in 1887 to AF rules of 1866 arising from a Catholic Archbishop returning from a posting in NZ.

That is some conspiracy theory, either that is a fantastic imagination, someone is taking the absolute piss, or there is actually some credence to it.
I think the Gaelic-Australian myth is attractive to some people because it taps into their desire to severe ties with England. I'm a republican but that's neither here nor there, all I care about is evidence. What bugs me is that some detractors of Australian football, mostly Australians themselves, say it's just a copy of the Gaelic football, when in fact AF was eons ahead by every measure. It was a highly developed and unique game drawing world record crowds of 30,000 before Gaelic football was even "reinvented", in the sense mentioned earlier that it's "an artificial code with no historical developments" - links to Irish folk football games seems to be very minimal, despite that nationalist chest-beating.
 

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Totally agree, but for the life of me, how did someone manage to link the codefied rules of Gaelic in 1887 to AF rules of 1866 arising from a Catholic Archbishop returning from a posting in NZ.

That is some conspiracy theory, either that is a fantastic imagination, someone is taking the absolute piss, or there is actually some credence to it.

..............................

A big reason for the GAA forming was to promote Irish ( nationalist ) games, i would imagine that Irish Regiments under control of the British Army would not be Nationalist in their outlook or would have Irish Nationalists ( Officers) in control of them, so it would hardly be suprising that they favoured British games rather than Irish ones, and as for saying they preferred the Irish rules, they may have been local Northern Irish rules which favoured the British rugby/soccer games, even the Northern Irish ( royalist/Protestants) still consider themselves Irish to an extent.

TBH the more i look into it, the more convoluted it becomes, but i guess that is history for you.
It all may stem from Sydney/Melbourne rivalry in conjunction the the 'cultural cringe'. As part of the rivalry, Sydney soon dismissed the football game devised in Melbourne as Victorian "rules", then Australian "rules", then just "rules" to indicate that it must be just be a derivative of an other game. Later as Gaelic football developed at some stage somebody in Sydney perhaps decided this was another way to denigrate Australian Football - to say it was just copy of the Gaelic game.

That nothing Australian is good enough on its own (unless approved by a 'superior' culture in another country) or original has a long, long history. The prime minister has of course recently re-affirmed this with the re-establishment of British imperial honours. (His side of politics has never been too keen on the concept of 'Australia' outside of some faux nationalistic twaddle from time to time.)
 

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Was the handball, handpass used in rugby, harrow, eton etc rules, where did that rule come from, to a non AF person that seems a bit weird, and how long has it been part of Gaelic football.

The solo in Gaelic is a bit like a variation of bouncing the ball, how long has that been in Gaelic, if AF has still been using a round ball, would the games have more similar than what they are now.
This site may provide some answers: http://www.rugbyfootballhistory.com/
 

fabulousphil

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It all may stem from Sydney/Melbourne rivalry in conjunction the the 'cultural cringe'. As part of the rivalry, Sydney soon dismissed the football game devised in Melbourne as Victorian "rules", then Australian "rules", then just "rules" to indicate that it must be just be a derivative of an other game. Later as Gaelic football developed at some stage somebody in Sydney perhaps decided this was another way to denigrate Australian Football - to say it was just copy of the Gaelic game.

That nothing Australian is good enough on its own (unless approved by a 'superior' culture in another country) or original has a long, long history. The prime minister has of course recently re-affirmed this with the re-establishment of British imperial honours. (His side of politics has never been too keen on the concept of 'Australia' outside of some faux nationalistic twaddle from time to time.)
Look i agree with your post, but Gaelic Rules http://www.irishecho.com.au/2010/10/06/is-gaelic-football-based-on-afl/6203 based on the Victorian rules of 1863 is not a cultural cringe, if anything it is the opposite, it is quite the compliment.

I just find it an amazing story.
 

fabulousphil

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When did Wills visit the goldfields?

According to Gillian Hibbins and Trevor Ruddell, "there is no mention of a colonial version of Gaelic football, and no positive evidence that one existed." In his autobiography Harrison recalled playing AF against Irish soldiers stationed in Melbourne in the late 1860s:

"They played with their trousers tucked into their heavy boots, and with coloured handkerchiefs tied round their heads. They were mostly big, heavy men, and their appearance was pretty awe inspiring! They had a playful way too, of kicking an opponent in the shins to make him drop the ball. As captain, I once protested that such tactics were against the rules, but the only satisfaction I got was the forceful reply, “To H- with your rules! We’re playing the – Irish rules.” I have bruises on my shins to this day received in these encounters."

Perhaps i was confusing him with Harrison, as i just googled Harrison and it says he visited the goldfields in 1852, and sympathised with the diggers.

Can't find Wills visiting the diggings on google, so perhaps after returning from England, he didn't.,
 

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Look i agree with your post, but Gaelic Rules http://www.irishecho.com.au/2010/10/06/is-gaelic-football-based-on-afl/6203 based on the Victorian rules of 1863 is not a cultural cringe, if anything it is the opposite, it is quite the compliment.

I just find it an amazing story.
Sounds like some Irish 'blarney'. "A new set of updated Australian laws would be created in 1866, and it is on this set of rules that Maurice Davin, in 1885, looks likely to have based the new laws of Gaelic Football." Note: "looks likely". By the time Davin was writing the rules for an Irish football game he could have had access to the rules of rugby union, association football, American Football, and more current rules of Australian Football than the 1866 revision.
A telegram (e-mail) to any of the organising bodies in the various countries could have obtained a written set of rules.

The is no evidence in the article of Davin saying "I will base the rules on those drawn up in Melbourne in 1866 by delegates of the clubs playing in that city."
Its not to say he didn't have access to a set of Australia Football rules, but there is no evidence that he did . The article is pure supposition with an element of deprecation ('cultural cringe'), that an Irishman couldn't have devised a modern set of rules for a football game out of his own head.

The connection between Bishop Croke who may have seen Irish immigrants playing the game they may have brought from Victoria to New Zealand in the late 1860s and any role he played as patron of the GAA in the 1880s in influencing the rules of Gaelic football is tenuous at best.

The Melbourne 1866 rules are easily found. (Which were just published as the "Rules of Football" not "Victorian" or "Australian" rules of football.)

This bio of him (http://www.pioneerassociation.ie/index.php/pioneer-magazine/102-mauricedavin) has this except from the original rules, "Pushing or tripping from behind, holding from behind, or butting with the head shall be deemed foul, and the player so offending shall be ordered to stand aside and may not afterwards take part in the match, nor can his side substitute another man."

The rules devised in Melbourne in 1866 say, " Rule 7. Tripping and hacking are strictly prohibited. Pushing with the hands or body is allowed when any player is in rapid motion. Holding is only allowed while a player has the ball in hand, except in the case provided in rule 6 (taking marks)."

Significantly different.
 

fabulousphil

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Sounds like some Irish 'blarney'. "A new set of updated Australian laws would be created in 1866, and it is on this set of rules that Maurice Davin, in 1885, looks likely to have based the new laws of Gaelic Football." Note: "looks likely". By the time Davin was writing the rules for an Irish football game he could have had access to the rules of rugby union, association football, American Football, and more current rules of Australian Football than the 1866 revision.
A telegram (e-mail) to any of the organising bodies in the various countries could have obtained a written set of rules.

The is no evidence in the article of Davin saying "I will base the rules on those drawn up in Melbourne in 1866 by delegates of the clubs playing in that city."
Its not to say he didn't have access to a set of Australia Football rules, but there is no evidence that he did . The article is pure supposition with an element of deprecation ('cultural cringe'), that an Irishman couldn't have devised a modern set of rules for a football game out of his own head.

The connection between Bishop Croke who may have seen Irish immigrants playing the game they may have brought from Victoria to New Zealand in the late 1860s and any role he played as patron of the GAA in the 1880s in influencing the rules of Gaelic football is tenuous at best.

The Melbourne 1866 rules are easily found. (Which were just published as the "Rules of Football" not "Victorian" or "Australian" rules of football.)

This bio of him (http://www.pioneerassociation.ie/index.php/pioneer-magazine/102-mauricedavin) has this except from the original rules, "Pushing or tripping from behind, holding from behind, or butting with the head shall be deemed foul, and the player so offending shall be ordered to stand aside and may not afterwards take part in the match, nor can his side substitute another man."

The rules devised in Melbourne in 1866 say, " Rule 7. Tripping and hacking are strictly prohibited. Pushing with the hands or body is allowed when any player is in rapid motion. Holding is only allowed while a player has the ball in hand, except in the case provided in rule 6 (taking marks)."

Significantly different.

I agree that it is quite a tenuous link, but someone actually had to come up with the theory, it is amazing for someone to think of it in the first place let alone put the sequence of events in place.

The initial Gaelic rules do not actually describe how the game is played, the rule makers and players must have known how the game was played.

Personally i am not so quick to write this off, i am also not one to totally throw out the marn grook theory as well, i am no professional historian so don't rely solely on hard evidence to sway me.
 
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