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

RedV3x

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The reference is from - The Australian Game of Football -Page 38 -Published by the AFL IN 2008.
It states on the page that James Thompson brought the Rule Books to the meeting, and he did not want Rugby Rules adopted per se - They were too complicated, and he clearly says that Wills was pushing Rugby Rules, and he (Thompson)wanted proper talks, which he apparently got.
There were several names on the handwritten copy found in circa 1980 in the Archives in the basement of the MCG, but only 4 people discussed the Rules that eventful day.
Wills, Hammersley,Thompson and Smith. Wray was present but did not participate and sign.
They hold the key to the actual discussions, which we may never find out.
Interesting stuff for fans of the game, and historians.
Thanks for that. That explains a lot. I can imagine the situation, like a jury room where jurors are asked to draw on their experiences and postulate.
i wonder what the rules were for Eton, Harrow and Windchester
 

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RedV3x

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It seems quite obvious to me that the the original committee chose the simplest format possible. Of the 10 original rules only 5 describe actual play.

3. A goal has to be kicked - that's pretty common except for rugby.
6. Catching a kicked ball is allowed - Cambridge, rugby and marngrook.
7. Tripping & pushing and no tackling - at odds with most other footballs that have either one or the other but not both.
8. Grabbing ball on the hop is allowed - not uncommon.
9. No throwing - quite unique and definitely the opposite to rugby. I read one reference where the handpass was considered quicker and that's why they banned the throw so as not to encourage scrums, but where did the handpass come from ? A Gaelic reference most likely.

I cannot see a discussion going ahead without some reference to Cambridge rules and Gaelic football especially.
I do not see Marngrook directly contributing to the rules, but I can see marngrook contributing to the style of play. i.e. that you can stand anywhere and move the ball around by licking and catching. In that regard the original game was unique.
 

TWLS

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It seems quite obvious to me that the the original committee chose the simplest format possible. Of the 10 original rules only 5 describe actual play.

3. A goal has to be kicked - that's pretty common except for rugby.
6. Catching a kicked ball is allowed - Cambridge, rugby and marngrook.
7. Tripping & pushing and no tackling - at odds with most other footballs that have either one or the other but not both.
8. Grabbing ball on the hop is allowed - not uncommon.
9. No throwing - quite unique and definitely the opposite to rugby. I read one reference where the handpass was considered quicker and that's why they banned the throw so as not to encourage scrums, but where did the handpass come from ? A Gaelic reference most likely.

I cannot see a discussion going ahead without some reference to Cambridge rules and Gaelic football especially.
I do not see Marngrook directly contributing to the rules, but I can see marngrook contributing to the style of play. i.e. that you can stand anywhere and move the ball around by licking and catching. In that regard the original game was unique.
Reference to Item 9 -
Re the introduction of the Handball. We have been searching all of the Rule Sets up until 1906 and cannot find a reference to it.
The earliest reference to punching so far is when Boundary Umpires were introduced in the VFL in Circa 1904 and they initially used to punch the ball in from out of bounds and later went to the throw in.
If anybody has any early references to the handball????
 

RedV3x

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Reference to Item 9 -
Re the introduction of the Handball. We have been searching all of the Rule Sets up until 1906 and cannot find a reference to it.
The earliest reference to punching so far is when Boundary Umpires were introduced in the VFL in Circa 1904 and they initially used to punch the ball in from out of bounds and later went to the throw in.
If anybody has any early references to the handball????
"Another rule was the hand pass, which involves punching the ball off the other hand. In theory, it is illegal to throw the ball (exceptions are made when the ball is accidently dropped or thrown onto the ground to bounce it.) Originally, the rule was implemented because the hand pass was quicker than a throw and it was felt that if everyone was forced to learn the art, then ugly packs would be less likely to form."

That was from Convict creations, without a specific reference.
 

The_Wookie

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It might not have been until 1925

1925 - "Under another new rule, players had to punch the ball instead of a camouflaged throw".
In the same year, the boundary throw in was abolished and replaced with a free kick. It was reintroduced in 1939.

ref: AFL 1993 Annual Report, page 38 "Growth"

It also says that in 1928, the VFA reintroduced the throw. (I keep meaning to get this converted to usable text.)

also note
* rules changed to allow a winner to be determined who was ahead at an allotted time, rather than the first 2 goals, in 1869.
* Umpires, changing of ends, Goals actually have to be kicked were first introduced in 1872.
* Uniforms were introduced in 1873
* behinds were first counted in 1898
* players first wore numbers in 1912
* deliberate out of bounds was introduced in 1922
* Siren first used in 1933
* first game under lights was in 1935 at Olympic park
* 2 player subsitutes introduced in 1946

* Dropping the ball was made a free kick in 1939
 

RedV3x

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It might not have been until 1925
Pretty sure that's a reference to the flick pass.
Since the original rules specifically banned throwing.

"One notable variant of the handpass which began to develop was known as the flick pass, in which a player used his open hand instead of his fist to propel the ball. The legality of the flick pass has varied throughout the history of the game: it began to gain prominence in the early 1920s, before the Australian National Football Council (ANFC) voted to abolish it before the 1925 season, making the handpass with a clenched fist (sometimes termed a punch pass to distinguish it from the flick pass) the only legal form of handpass. This was not widely popular, as the style of punch pass used at the time a much more cumbersome disposal than a flick pass, and it resulted in the game being played at a slower pace.[1] The flick pass was re-instated before the 1934 season.[2] In the late 1950s and early 1960s it re-emerged as a common technique to achieve centre square clearances from scrimmages, particularly at VFL club Fitzroy.[3] Of the 88 handballs executed during the 1961 VFL Grand Final, 18 were flick passes.[4] The flick pass was abolished permanently in 1966."

wiki.

also the Geelong rules of 1959.

"9. Handball only allowed if ball held clearly in one hand and punched or hit out with other. If caught, no mark. Throwing prohibited."
 
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Garlic muncher

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Pretty sure that's a reference to the flick pass.
Since the original rules specifically banned throwing.

"One notable variant of the handpass which began to develop was known as the flick pass, in which a player used his open hand instead of his fist to propel the ball. The legality of the flick pass has varied throughout the history of the game: it began to gain prominence in the early 1920s, before the Australian National Football Council (ANFC) voted to abolish it before the 1925 season, making the handpass with a clenched fist (sometimes termed a punch pass to distinguish it from the flick pass) the only legal form of handpass. This was not widely popular, as the style of punch pass used at the time a much more cumbersome disposal than a flick pass, and it resulted in the game being played at a slower pace.[1] The flick pass was re-instated before the 1934 season.[2] In the late 1950s and early 1960s it re-emerged as a common technique to achieve centre square clearances from scrimmages, particularly at VFL club Fitzroy.[3] Of the 88 handballs executed during the 1961 VFL Grand Final, 18 were flick passes.[4] The flick pass was abolished permanently in 1966."

wiki.

also the Geelong rules of 1959.

"9. Handball only allowed if ball held clearly in one hand and punched or hit out with other. If caught, no mark. Throwing prohibited."
Obviously the beginning of the end for Fitzroy ;)



Looks to me like blokes who could not handball using opposite hands may have also used it.
 

papabear

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I'm going to stop you right there. The thing that irks me the most about League fans is them taking the credit for people knowing of "Rugby". The don't mean the lesser off, downgraded cousin of it, they're talking about Union. Union is a truly international sport with professional leagues across Europe, Asia and in the US. So I guess to sort of correct you:

More people are aware of Rugby Union than AFL, and that is a fact. But upon hearing and seeing about Rugby League they associate it with union due to them both using the term Rugby and have very similar traits albeit being completely different sports.
I think there are a few facets to this.

If anyone has any interest in rugby league or rugby union these days, they will probably google it and learn theres two different games.

I would be surprised, there were many union fans that did not know of the existance of rugby league or visa versa.

The terms rugby and football are not commodities bought and sold, like all languages are a product of there culture, history, heritage and human nature.

A brief excerpt on how the term "league" came to be:-

Two days later, on 29 August 1895, representatives of twenty-two clubs met in the George Hotel, Huddersfield to form the Northern Rugby Football Union, usually called the Northern Union (NU).[4] Twenty clubs agreed to resign from the Rugby Union, but Dewsbury felt unable to comply with the decision. The Cheshire club, Stockport, had telegraphed the meeting requesting admission to the new organisation and was duly accepted with a second Cheshire club, Runcorn, admitted at the next meeting.

The separate Lancashire and Yorkshire competitions of the NRFU merged in 1901, forming the Northern Rugby Football League.

As for rugby league being the lesser off, downgraded cousin of rugby union. Well to be honest, that might be your preference, in the context of this thread, that certainly isnt the case.

And I think globally, whilst rugby league is much much smaller then union, will continue to grow off its very very small base.

The one somewhat unique thing rugby league has, is a culture of existence and endurance even though a lot of outside forces dont want it to. Thus, when rugby league people kick things off they are not in it for short terms accolades of being the best brightest or shinniest.

If you are interested the above quotes were taken from the below.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rugby_league
 
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madmug

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With or without the Marngrook connection, AF is still very much out of the English school sports tradition.

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So I guess gridiron is out of the English school sports tradition too.
Also baseball & basketball as well I suppose.
 
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Garlic muncher

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So I guess gridiron is out of the English school sports tradition too.
Also baseball & basketball as well I suppose.
They say rounders which is still played in a huge variety of different ways at schools is a forerunner to baseball, rounders was a English game, they still play a variety of rounders at the primary school across the road, markings around the basketball courts

Basketball is pretty much American.

Ball games have been happening for thousands of years, everything is related, but to say that Tom Wils was not somehow influenced by Marngrook and Aboriginal culture is bizarre, he was the only white child in a district where local Aboriginals still practiced thousand year old customs, he spoke their language and played with them.

He would have been influenced in a variety of ways he probably did not even realise, let alone reflecting on his childhood in later years.
 

Gigantor

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They say rounders which is still played in a huge variety of different ways at schools is a forerunner to baseball, rounders was a English game, they still play a variety of rounders at the primary school across the road, markings around the basketball courts

Basketball is pretty much American.

Ball games have been happening for thousands of years, everything is related, but to say that Tom Wils was not somehow influenced by Marngrook and Aboriginal culture is bizarre, he was the only white child in a district where local Aboriginals still practiced thousand year old customs, he spoke their language and played with them.

He would have been influenced in a variety of ways he probably did not even realise, let alone reflecting on his childhood in later years.
When I went to primary school, back in the 70s, the boys played cricket in summer and the girls played rounders. It was very similar to baseball/softball with four bases, pitcher, fielders, etc. The bat was actually shaped like a little cricket bat, and you played with a tennis ball, so it was a very good game to play in any inner-city school with a small asphalt area, as ours was. IN fact, in the earlier years, sometimes the teacher took the whole class out for a game of rounders.

Around year 5, they introduced softball to the school, and this became the primary sport for the older girls. I imagine that happened all round Australia so that rounders is now rarely played as a proper inter-school sport, if it exists, it's probably used as a bit of a lunch time runaround type activity. I still think it's a pretty good game for primary school kids because pretty much everyone can join in.
 
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Garlic muncher

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When I went to primary school, back in the 70s, the boys played cricket in summer and the girls played rounders. It was very similar to baseball/softball with four bases, pitcher, fielders, etc. The bat was actually shaped like a little cricket bat, and you played with a tennis ball, so it was a very good game to play in any inner-city school with a small asphalt area, as ours was. IN fact, in the earlier years, sometimes the teacher took the whole class out for a game of rounders.

Around year 5, they introduced softball to the school, and this became the primary sport for the older girls. I imagine that happened all round Australia so that rounders is now rarely played as a proper inter-school sport, if it exists, it's probably used as a bit of a lunch time runaround type activity. I still think it's a pretty good game for primary school kids because pretty much everyone can join in.
Sounds pretty similar to hundreds of schools, all having local variants though. :)

Handball is another one with probably thousands of different rules at different schools.

Loved handball
 

papabear

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They say rounders which is still played in a huge variety of different ways at schools is a forerunner to baseball, rounders was a English game, they still play a variety of rounders at the primary school across the road, markings around the basketball courts

Basketball is pretty much American.

Ball games have been happening for thousands of years, everything is related, but to say that Tom Wils was not somehow influenced by Marngrook and Aboriginal culture is bizarre, he was the only white child in a district where local Aboriginals still practiced thousand year old customs, he spoke their language and played with them.

He would have been influenced in a variety of ways he probably did not even realise, let alone reflecting on his childhood in later years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marn_Grook

The argument is not whether or not he was influenced. It is more whether evidence supports he witnessed it?

Sports historian Gillian Hibbins, who researched the origins of Australian rules football for the Australian Football League's official account of the game's history as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations sternly rejects the theory, stating that while Marn Grook was "definitely" played around Port Fairy and throughout the Melbourne area, there is no evidence that the game was played north of the Grampians or by the Djabwurrung people and the claim that Wills observed and possibly played the game is improbable

In his exhaustive research of the first four decades of Australian rules football, historian Mark Pennings "could not find evidence that those who wrote the first rules were influenced by the indigenous game of Marngrook".[19]Melbourne Cricket Club researcher Trevor Ruddell wrote in 2013 that Marn Grook "has no causal link with, nor any documented influence upon, the early development of Australian football."[20]

Oddly enough, there is an argument that back in the day those charged with the rules and administration wanted to distance themselves from aboriginal origins.

Now some fans are desperate to make the link.

Which flavor of the month will it be to serve marketing purposes in 50 years time?
 

Garlic muncher

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marn_Grook

The argument is not whether or not he was influenced. It is more whether evidence supports he witnessed it?

Sports historian Gillian Hibbins, who researched the origins of Australian rules football for the Australian Football League's official account of the game's history as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations sternly rejects the theory, stating that while Marn Grook was "definitely" played around Port Fairy and throughout the Melbourne area, there is no evidence that the game was played north of the Grampians or by the Djabwurrung people and the claim that Wills observed and possibly played the game is improbable

In his exhaustive research of the first four decades of Australian rules football, historian Mark Pennings "could not find evidence that those who wrote the first rules were influenced by the indigenous game of Marngrook".[19]Melbourne Cricket Club researcher Trevor Ruddell wrote in 2013 that Marn Grook "has no causal link with, nor any documented influence upon, the early development of Australian football."[20]

Oddly enough, there is an argument that back in the day those charged with the rules and administration wanted to distance themselves from aboriginal origins.

Now some fans are desperate to make the link.

Which flavor of the month will it be to serve marketing purposes in 50 years time?
I am not desperate to find a link, i know a link exists, Gillian Hibbins, yourself and anyone else can say what they want.

Are you suggesting that Wills did not play with Aboriginal kids and all the games, kids adventures, customs etc that went with it.
 

papabear

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Also basketball is very much a global game nowadays.

The game is fun, mostly non contact, has great computer games, and is a great viewing product.

IMO basketball is the only game that has any chance of knocking off soccer in the next 50 years as the top grossing sporting product.
 

madmug

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marn_Grook

The argument is not whether or not he was influenced. It is more whether evidence supports he witnessed it?

Sports historian Gillian Hibbins, who researched the origins of Australian rules football for the Australian Football League's official account of the game's history as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations sternly rejects the theory, stating that while Marn Grook was "definitely" played around Port Fairy and throughout the Melbourne area, there is no evidence that the game was played north of the Grampians or by the Djabwurrung people and the claim that Wills observed and possibly played the game is improbable

In his exhaustive research of the first four decades of Australian rules football, historian Mark Pennings "could not find evidence that those who wrote the first rules were influenced by the indigenous game of Marngrook".[19]Melbourne Cricket Club researcher Trevor Ruddell wrote in 2013 that Marn Grook "has no causal link with, nor any documented influence upon, the early development of Australian football."[20]

Oddly enough, there is an argument that back in the day those charged with the rules and administration wanted to distance themselves from aboriginal origins.

Now some fans are desperate to make the link.

Which flavor of the month will it be to serve marketing purposes in 50 years time?
So that confirms that AR comes from the English school sports tradition?
Yes? No? Any references?
 

Garlic muncher

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Lawton wills-cook a great nephew of Tom Wills claims that Wills did play marngrook and plenty of other Aboriginal games and made the claim before the MCC, the story was handed down via the
Family.

There is the proof and what's more, that is more credible than anything allegedly not written down.
 

jatz14

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I am not desperate to find a link, i know a link exists, Gillian Hibbins, yourself and anyone else can say what they want.

Are you suggesting that Wills did not play with Aboriginal kids and all the games, kids adventures, customs etc that went with it.
Did the Aboriginal people Wills played with play Marngrook? It was not a universal sport, and the descriptions of it do not come from the area Wills was in.

Wills was a champion of Aboriginal rights his whole life, why did he never mention it?

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Hoops

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marn_Grook

The argument is not whether or not he was influenced. It is more whether evidence supports he witnessed it?

Sports historian Gillian Hibbins, who researched the origins of Australian rules football for the Australian Football League's official account of the game's history as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations sternly rejects the theory, stating that while Marn Grook was "definitely" played around Port Fairy and throughout the Melbourne area, there is no evidence that the game was played north of the Grampians or by the Djabwurrung people and the claim that Wills observed and possibly played the game is improbable

In his exhaustive research of the first four decades of Australian rules football, historian Mark Pennings "could not find evidence that those who wrote the first rules were influenced by the indigenous game of Marngrook".[19]Melbourne Cricket Club researcher Trevor Ruddell wrote in 2013 that Marn Grook "has no causal link with, nor any documented influence upon, the early development of Australian football."[20]

Oddly enough, there is an argument that back in the day those charged with the rules and administration wanted to distance themselves from aboriginal origins.

Now some fans are desperate to make the link.

Which flavor of the month will it be to serve marketing purposes in 50 years time?
Since when is Moyston north of the grampians?
 

papabear

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Lawton wills-cook a great nephew of Tom Wills claims that Wills did play marngrook and plenty of other Aboriginal games and made the claim before the MCC, the story was handed down via the
Family.

There is the proof and what's more, that is more credible than anything allegedly not written down.
So a grand nephew's claim is now proof, more credible then anything written by the person himself or contemporanously.
 

TigerCraig

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So I guess gridiron is out of the English school sports tradition too.
Well, yes it is. It developed from rugby, and was primarily a college game until the 1920's. Going by written records it would have looked a lot more like rugby that the modern American game - no forward pass for one thing. Canadian football in particular still has a lot of similarities to rugby - especially in the kick and chase aspects.

People seem to think all these different sports have always looked the way they currently do, but they haven't. The original laws of Association (soccer) football allowed use of the hands, but not picking the ball up or running with it - in fact more similar to gaelic football than the soccer game that developed.

When clubs started forming from old boys of schools they often played slightly different rules, and had to agree them before the game
 

jatz14

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Well, yes it is. It developed from rugby, and was primarily a college game until the 1920's. Going by written records it would have looked a lot more like rugby that the modern American game - no forward pass for one thing. Canadian football in particular still has a lot of similarities to rugby - especially in the kick and chase aspects.

People seem to think all these different sports have always looked the way they currently do, but they haven't. The original laws of Association (soccer) football allowed use of the hands, but not picking the ball up or running with it - in fact more similar to gaelic football than the soccer game that developed.

When clubs started forming from old boys of schools they often played slightly different rules, and had to agree them before the game
Constant rule changes are not a modern thing.

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madmug

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I dont really know why this is a 'discussion point'. Its not important in the scheme of things is it?
AR is not an English game derivative like the direct lineage of RL for instance. The fact that 'English' people started the games origins in Melbourne is one thing. The game has started, grown & evolved within a non English school sports tradition.
Now that is a fact!!
 
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Professor Knowall

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... AR is not an English game derivative like the direct lineage of RL for instance. The fact that 'English' people started the games origins in Melbourne is one thing. The game has started, grown & evolved within a non English school sports tradition.
Now that is a fact!!
Spot on - and what's more Tom Wills and HCA Harrison were both born and raised in NSW. Again, as outlined in H.C.A. Harrison's autobiography (ch 7) - "when T.W. Wills returned from England, fresh from Rugby school ... 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 engaged in making a livelihood, but to work out a game of our own". Which is what they very deliberately proceeded to do in 1859 and which was recognised as such right from the start.

The 1859 edition of the Victorian Cricketer's Guide had the new rules printed beside the Rugby and Eton rules to emphasise both the origin of the Australian code and how the new rules differed from the English codes. The 1860 edition of the Victorian Cricketer's Guide omitted the Rugby and Eton rules altogether for, to quote it directly - "... we seem to have agreed to a 'code of our own' - those of the Melbourne Club by whose rules ... the game in Victoria is now universally played".

As for the British origin of the rules they used, well how far back do you want to take it? The various school rules which influenced our games founders were themselves developed from village rules. Village football can be readily traced back to medieval times and not just in Britain but Europe in general (e.g. Calcio Fiorentino). Village football is thought by many to be a left-over from the popular Roman game of Harpastum, which was itself developed from one or both of the ancient Greek ball games of Phaininda or Episkyros.

So perhaps we can say that, instead of England, all the modern codes of football derived from the Greeks!

The difference for Australian Football was that it was deliberately devised as a brand new code here in Australia and (as Madmug makes the point) it was not merely a direct derivative of another code. That explain why it was so very different from the rest.
 
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