THE DEATH AND LIFE OF AUS­TRALIAN SOC­CER

Inside Sport - - ONE ON ONE WITH... - BYJOEGORMAN, UNIVERSITYOF QUEENSLANDPRESS,$32.95

In dis­cus­sions of sport and Aus­tralian iden­tity, the usual re­flex turns to pas­times other than soc­cer. This book makes a per­sua­sive ar­gu­ment for why that’s a mis­take – the ques­tion of soc­cer is one of the na­tion’s iden­tity.

Au­thor Joe Gor­man has made a de­lib­er­ate word choice. He’s es­chewed the con­tem­po­rary “foot­ball” for the name the game went by in 20th-Cen­tury Aus­tralia, and it serves to re­lo­cate this his­tory of how soc­cer came to be this of­ten-sham­bolic, pow­er­fully in­te­gra­tive, yet for­ever on-the-cusp sport. This metic­u­lously re­searched nar­ra­tive en­gages with the im­mi­grant clubs that were the foun­da­tions of the coun­try’s first na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, yet were even­tu­ally dealt out of the A-League in the name of win­ning over the main­stream.

It’s an un­for­tu­nate fea­ture of Aus­tralian life, Gor­man writes, that we want our mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism “with­out threats to the ex­ist­ing struc­ture of things”. This con­tra­dic­tion is writ large in soc­cer, for­ever the sport of the fu­ture. This fine book, though, wants to en­sure that we don’t for­get the past.

GOODFOR: The so­cial his­tory types.

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