REVIEW: Legends – the AFL Indigenous Team of the Century

Posted on August 30, 2011


I have made it a rule not to review books written by people I know or books they have been associated with producing. But I have decided to make an exception to that rule. Well, I made it, so I can break it.
A friend of mine works at Aboriginal Studies Press. I was intrigued to learn that Lisa was involved with production of this book about the Indigenous Team of the Century of the Australian Football League. I shamelessly picked her brains about it over coffee from time to time.
The book was released the other week. I was thrilled to have Lisa present me with a copy, complete with autographs in the front collected by Lisa’s long-suffering partner, Ben (thanks mate!) from some of the luminaries present at the launch.

As I grew up, initially coming from a not-particularly-sporty family, I became a passionate follower of Australian Rules Football. That was when I began to realise that there were footballers playing at that elite level who came from an indigenous background. Barry Cable was one of my absolute ideals as a player. He seemed capable of anything. I still vividly remember the first time that the Krakouer brothers came over to Victoria with a team from Western Australia to play in the then-preseason competition of the old Victorian Football League. They simply cut the opposition to pieces.

Some of the truly great players of the game come from an indigenous background. We’re talking names like ‘Polly’ Farmer, Cable, Jim & Phil Krakouer (at least when they were in the same team together), Maurice Rioli and more. It is great to see so many of them collected together in this book. I hadn’t realised that umpire Glenn James had been included in this Indigenous Team of the Century. Often better known as ‘Jesse’ James, ‘the quickest book in the West’ for his propensity to not take any nonsense and report players, in some respects James took an even bigger step by becoming an umpire rather than a player.

It is only while reading this collection that you realise just how tough a road some of these men had to travel, football in at least some cases being a path to a better future.

Legends – recommended reading.

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