Soccer Played in Australia Since 1859

This is the suggestion made in a newly released book by Peter Kunz, librarian and archivist of Canberra. After twelve years of research, his book Chronicles of Soccer in Australia – Foundation Years 1859 to 1949, has finally seen the light.

Chronicles of Soccer in Australia – Foundation Years 1859 to 1949

The book was launched by Andy Harper from Fox Sports on the 31st of July at Gleebooks. Kunz’s book is the product of about 12 years of fact-checking and liaising with other historians in the field of sports, as well as research done in the national archives. The book caught the attention of the world with its enticing suggestion that the first game of soccer ever played in Australia happened as early as 1859. This match was reported about on by Hobart press and was scheduled to occur at Richmond in Tasmania on the 18th of March 1859. The then news advertised it as a grand football match, and Kunz is relatively sure that this is indicating towards the first soccer match.

More Interesting Details

His more than a decade of research delivered, however, more details about the games played during that era. One of these is the fact that almost the entire Australia stopped playing soccer during World War I due to the lack of players since most men had to respond to the call to join up in arms.

He also found evidence that women’s soccer has also been played for quite a while through an advertisement of a women’s match scheduled to be played in Toowoomba in 1917. The influence which the Chinese communities in Australia had on the development of soccer in Darwin is also placed under the microscope with some interesting findings as well. Another fun and exciting detail concerning the early games is that carrier pigeons were used by Coledale club to convey notes on half- and full-time scores.

Kunz Commenting on His Book

Kunz commented that despite the many interesting facts that he did discover, his approach to all of the evidence which he found regarding matches was always a conservative one. Kunz also mentioned that with Australia being very remote due to cultural and geographic isolation from the rest of the world, the absence of global engagement was presented and played out on the soccer fields. The attitudes which were created towards class and race through the presence of immigrants, as well as the national culture within Australia have all been adequately reflected during games those years. The book demonstrates the attitudes and habits of the Australian nation during the period stretching from later on in the 19th century up to the first half of the 20th century.

Kunz’s book also provides a comprehensive list of clubs that were active in senior matches. The menu consists of more than 2 500 names stretching up to December of 1949. Noticeably is the fact that nearly half of these clubs were all based in New South Wales. The book is an exciting exploration of a part of cricket history not known to the modern world.