The Footy Book Thread

Vicky Park

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We already have a book thread, but General Soreness suggested that a thread devoted to footy books might be a good idea, after I posted this yesterday in the 'Dont want to start a new thread' thread:

Bought a book this afternoon from the Brunswick Street Bookstore in Fitzroy. I didn't see any media coverage or review, so I was surprised to see it on the 'new releases' shelf. The word 'Collingwood' with black and white stripes on the cover took my eye:

'The Collingwood Barracker 1853-1906: A History of Social Recompense', by Robin Murphy, 2017

Sub-title: 'Factors Responsible for the Development of the Distinctive Collingwood Barracker'

And from the 'Introduction':

'It is the intention of this paper to provide reasons why the Collingwood Football Club barracker became a supporter, with passion, devotion and commitment like no other. In addition, the intention is to explore why the supporter became the subject of derision, scorn and ridicule.'

Think I'll enjoy this book.:D

General Soreness also went to the trouble of looking this up:

Apparently there are seven more copies of this book in stock.

https://brunswickstreetbookstore.co...ood-barracker-1853-1906?barcode=9780646961331
 

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#6
Has anyone read Time and Space by James Coventry? Is it worth getting?
Read about half of it before getting distracted by a few things. Yes, do get it - or at least read it. Lots of interesting stuff in there about the early game at least. At some point I'll get to the discussions about the modern game.

Really worth reading for setting a lot of contemporary debates in their historical context.
 
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#7
Currently reading Footy's Greatest Coaches, edited by Stephanie Holt and Garrie Hutchison. It was published in 2002 so might be one to find in the second hand stores now. It's a collection of 22 essays and articles on coaches and coaching from Jack Worrall to Rodney Eade to country football to coaches in the outer. Writers include Patrick Smith, Martin Flanagan, Dennis Pagan, Graeme Blundell, and Brent Crosswell. Some of the pieces in the book are 20 years old or more at time of publication but many - including a very interesting three-part piece by Smith for The Australian on Malthouse's Collingwood - are 21st Century articles.
 
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#11
Just back from Paul Roos's book'n'breakfast do. I asked him what he saw in the future of coaching. There wasn't time to get much detail, but he seemed fairly confident in saying that the head coach role as we know it will be replaced by a team manager and a match day coach. He pointed out that this development was already underway with the advent of the position of director of coaching.
 
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#12



‘Ltd’ is the key term in Linnell’s history of the administration of the VFL and AFL over roughly 25 years, leading up to 1994. The book’s cover suggests an account of how business captured (and ruined) the game but Linnell instead shows how football could abandon businesses and businessmen just as much as its players. Each chapter illustrates how the transition from the VFL to the AFL, from the financial and administrative mess of the post-war era to early professionalism, was a three-cornered contest: club administrators limited by their parochialism, business figures blinded by their desire for social capital and their lack of appreciation that football wasn’t just another business, and the VFL/AFL commission whose aim of uniting the clubs for the sake of the game’s continued existence was limited by the aforementioned shortcomings of club administrators and business figures.

There’s a loose chronological order to the material but the chapters are organized more by topic: for example, beer sponsorship, important administrative battles, television rights, the MCG vs Waverly, the Players’ Association. Brisbane and Sydney are given two chapters each, WA and SA one each. The chapters on the Broadcom/ABC television deal, the beer sponsorship debacle, and the end of Jack Hamilton’s career are highlights.

Though there’s ample opportunity, the story never gets bogged down in legal, financial, and administrative detail. Linnell glosses on these matters but leaves the reader feeling that they have as much as they need to know of these matters to service the story of human failings that he wants to tell. Instead, Linnell sticks to a sympathetic – though not uncritical – portrayal of those who worked off the field to secure The Flag. Linnell’s prose is direct and economical and manages to present all aspects of his story well, from boardroom drama, to farce, to tragedy. If you’ve enjoyed Martin Flanagan’s writing about football, there’s a very good chance that Football Ltd. will also appeal.

The book’s style only partly explains its value. I had barely reached adulthood by 1994. I grew up understanding the transition from VFL to AFL as a battle between (authentic) tradition and (evil) modernisation. Football Ltd. has made me much more sympathetic to the League Commission and less sympathetic to the old story. Unfortunately, the book’s index is not as helpful as it looks (why is there no entry for 1985’s ‘Blue Report’?), and the photographs are surprisingly uncredited, but there is an interesting and appetite-whetting bibliography covering both secondary works covering aspects of VFL/AFL history, and ‘reports’, which principally lists official documents for and from the VFL/AFL Commission. The interviewees for each chapter are listed (some anonymously) over four pages, right after the end of the epilogue.

The professionalisation of sport tends to produce histories that emphasise the rugged individualism of the pre-professional era. In footy the standard narrative is of a time when men were hard, the hits were big, full-forwards regularly kicked a hundred goals a season, and the fashion was bad. Football Ltd. is a valuable and highly readable counterpoint to such histories: it doesn’t contradict the standard history, but it does make me wonder if heroic veneers are particularly good at hiding administrative shortcomings. A similar book covering the years 1995 to 2016 would be welcome, but while the League has become more professional (read ‘guarded’), wages and deals have become more lucrative, scandals more divisive and disruptive, and key figures face greater social and professional scrutiny, I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile, I wonder if my skepticism isn’t just another view through nostalgic glasses.
 
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