Australia as a country celebrates, participates in and enjoys the sport of football and has for a long time. It has become an integral part of the society and culture but where exactly did it come from and what is its history in Australia?
One of the first matches on record took place as early a 1875 the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum between inmates and Brisbane Australian rules football club with the only rule being that the ball should not be carried or handled, as per the British Association rules.
Later, in 1879 another match was played, a scratch match, once again, under the English Association rules by the Cricketer’s club. The same cricketers club played another match a month later which marked the first inter club match in history in Australia.
In 1883 the infamour Balgownie Rangers were created and are now known as the oldest club in Australia. The Rangers then played their first inter-colonial game between a Victorian tea, and a team from South Wales. John Fletcher created the South Wales soccer association which then inspired and drove other regions and states to create their own sport associations and governing institutions. All regions and states started to have these bodies start to pop up over the course of the next decade or so until 1911 when the need for a nationwide regulatory body to oversee and regulate the whole sport. This body was called the Commonwealth Football Association which was later the Australian Soccer Association.
This Association created the first national team to represent the country during a tour to the neighbouring New Zealand. This team was made up of men only and they ended up losing two out of three of their games against New Zealand’s team. Today, it is worth noting that the sport is for men and women alike and has evolved to include all walks of earth including children and those of varying skill levels as well.
As the time progressed after 1920 and with an increasing amount of British and European settlers it made sense that football became a major sport in the country. This was especially the case after World War II when the sport, all over the world, became more commercialized and professional. This increased popularity in Australia was largely attributed to post war migration.
The sport was more than a hobby and served as a release for many and was a way for people to come together. The cultural melting pot that was soccer created a face or profile for the sport that was diverse and not limited to just one type of person but rather was a sport for the people no matter their ethnicity, financial status, history or story. As a matter of fact, in the 1950’s and 60’s the sport was based and rooted in a plethora of ethnicities and racial backgrounds from Croatians to Italians.
These new members of Australian soccer culture were actually the drivers behind some of the best known clubs to this day including South Melbourne, a Greek based club, Sydney Olympic, another Greek based club, the Marconi Stallions, an Italian based club, Adelaide City, another Italian based club, Sydney United which is Croatian based club, among many others. The diversity that makes up Australian football is part of what makes the sport so wonderful.