THE NIGHT THE MU­SIC DIED

BY IAN HEADS, STOKE HILL PRESS,›­.­ $ 29.25

Inside Sport - - MVP BRAIN FOOD - Graem Sims

Back in the days when a rugby league round meant that one match (of the day) was played on Satur­days at 3pm and the other five at 3pm on Sun­day after­noons, the con­cept of a tele­vised mid-week FA Cup-style knock­out comp was rev­o­lu­tion­ary. The year was 1974, colour TV had just ar­rived, and Ray “Rab­bits” War­ren was an un­known TV tal­ent when he took the mi­cro­phone to de­scribe the first sea­son of the Amco Cup on Chan­nelTen.The idea was that one of the rich Sydney clubs would win the cash, but a bunch of bushies had other ideas.The story of Western Divi­sion’s un­der­dog win (no, we’re not re­ally giv­ing away the end­ing there) is a clas­sic of Aus­tralian bush footy his­tory, told here with great rel­ish and enor­mous af­fec­tion by the god­fa­ther of rugby league lit­er­a­ture in this coun­try, Sir Ian Heads. The team com­prised a tim­ber cut­ter, a slaugh­ter­man, a grey­hound trainer, a po­lice­man, a brickie, a few min­ers and farm­ers. Im­pec­ca­ble re­search, in which ev­ery sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the team has been tracked down and in­ter­viewed, adds a layer of de­tail and colour to the story that lifts this book from sport his­tory to rip-roar­ing read. Even for those of us who ab­hor vi­o­lence, the blood and guts brawl­ing that char­ac­terised these blokes’ con­tests is ac­tu­ally quite charm­ing – don’t ask me how or why. The story of their stoush that year against the vis­it­ing Great Bri­tain team, dubbed by some who saw it as “the dirt­i­est game ever played”, ac­tu­ally in­spires nos­tal­gia for the days when men sorted things out on the sport­ing pad­dock, and left their get-squares at the fence. Every­one seemed to give as good as they got ... Any­one with a hint of pigskin in their DNA, and who can re­mem­ber what Am­cos ac­tu­ally were, will love this book.

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