Winter practice [genesis of Australian Rules football, 10 July 1858]

[Editor: A letter, from Tom Wills, which is regarded as the impetus for the creation of Australian Rules football. Published in Bell’s Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, 10 July 1858.]

Winter practice.

To the Editor of Bell’s Life in Victoria.

Sir, — Now that cricket has been put aside for some few months to come, and cricketers have assumed somewhat of the chrysalis nature (for a time only ’tis true), but at length will again burst forth in all their varied hues, rather than allow this state of torpor to creep over them, and stifle their new supple limbs, why can they not, I say, form a foot-ball club, and form a committee of three or more to draw up a code of laws?

If a club of this sort were got up, it would be of a vast benefit to any cricket-ground to be trampled upon, and would make the turf quite firm and durable; besides which it would keep those who are inclined to become stout from having their joints encased in useless superabundant flesh.

If it is not possible to form a foot-ball club, why should not these young men who have adopted this new-born country for their mother land, why I say, do they not form themselves into a rifle club, so as at any-rate they may be some day called upon to aid their adopted land against a tyrant’s band, that may some day “pop” upon us when we least expect a foe at our very doors. Surely our young cricketers are not afraid of the crack of the rifle, when they face so courageously the leathern sphere, and it would disgrace no one to learn in time how to defend his country and his hearth. A firm heart, a steady hand, and a quick eye, are all that are requisite, and, with practice, all these may be attained.

Trusting that some one will take up the matter, and form either of the above clubs, or, at any rate, some athletic games, I remain, yours truly,


Bell’s Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic.), 10 July 1858, p. 3

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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