THE DEATH AND LIFE OF AUSTRALIAN SOCCER
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.