I saw Australian Rules Football described as a “Redneck” game in the hurly-burly of the Ashes cricket blogs. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is really not a white mans game at all, but an adaptation of the black mans game of Marngrook. Marngrook, meaning game ball, was observed by white settlers in western
"The men and boys joyfully assemble when this game is to be played. One makes a ball of possum skin, somewhat elastic, but firm and strong. The players of this game do not throw the ball as a white man might do, but drop it and at the same time kicks it with his foot. The tallest men have the best chances in this game. Some of them will leap as high as five feet from the ground to catch the ball. The person who secures the ball kicks it. This continues for hours and the natives never seem to tire of the exercise."
Tom Wills, who in 1858 proposed the radical concept of “a game of our own”, spent his formative years in western
Wills crossed over between white and black
Some historians say there is no evidence to support the view that Marngrook spawned Australian Rules, and point to some written evidence that Australian Rules derived from a
In 2008, the rules Wills wrote will be 150 years old, but the game that is played is much older than that. The indigenous representation in the Australian Football League is around 12% as against 2% of the Australian population. Adam Goodes, a star indigenous player with the Sydney Swans, summed it up best for me when he said that he felt it was “our game”.