Monday, April 28, 2008

Tasmania to get an AFL team?

Some further discussion of AFL representation in Tasmania is warranted. Tasmanian people have stated that they are not very interested in supporting a Melbourne team, playing in Tasmania. Experiments over the last number of years have seen teams like Fitzroy, St Kilda and Hawthorn play "home games" in Launceston. There could have been a small chance for Fitzroy to relocate to Tasmania, but the AFL were in favour of them merging with Brisbane. Admittedly that was a very successful move for all involved, and the Brisbane Lions have been a very successful team.

It remains to be seen how successful the new teams on the Gold Coast and Western Sydney will perform, or how good their supporter base will be. The AFL are prepared to put a lot of money into making their expansion endeavours successful. It seems the AFL were waiting more than a few years for a Victorian team to choose to relocate. It was obviously the AFL's preference. North Melbourne stubbornly resisted this, and that could be their demise in the end. North Melbourne supporters were making stupid decisions back in 1896 before the formation of the VFL. In an 1896 VFA game their supporters bashed the umpires and players after they were unhappy with the result. The VFL decided they did not want North Melbourne in 1897 when they formed. Now, North Melbourne supporters chose not to relocate to the Gold Coast, and will probably miss out on staying in the AFL too.

Hawthorn have enjoyed their relationship with Tasmania, so much so that when St Kilda pulled out of playing two games per season there, they increased their schedule to four games in Tasmania. The Tasmanian government have enjoyed this relationship too and have chosen to be Hawthorn's major sponsor. So their current corporate name is the "Tasmania Hawks." Tasmanian supporters however would like a team that they can truly call their own. If the Tasmanian government are serious about having an AFL team in Tasmania, then their best bet is to lure a Victorian team to move there. Hawthorn, may not be the club to do that, because they are financially strong now. Yet the management of Hawthorn is undoubtedly smart enough to do what is necessary for the long term survival of their club. It seems that there is a big enough niche for them to survive in Melbourne.

North Melbourne have already proven themselves too stupid to make a move, they flirted with the idea in Canberra, Sydney and the Gold Coast over many years. This leaves the three other candidates for a possible relocation as St Kilda, Footscray and Richmond. St Kilda may have shown their disinterest, may not be out of the running. The Tasmanian government need to put forward a deal to a Victorian club that will be more than attractive, that they would be stupid to stay in Melbourne, a deal that would guarantee their long term survival.

Basic mathematics would probably show that in a pro Aussie Rules state, it takes around 500 000 people as a demographic foundation to support a professional AFL team. Perth and Adelaide have a population of around 1 million each and they both have 2 AFL teams. They can probably not support any more than this in the next decade or two. Geelong do extremely well to support their team with a population of 350 000, but then it could be argued that regional south western Victoria make up the rest of the 500 000. This leaves Melbourne with a population of 3.5 million. At 500 000 people per team, Melbourne is probably capable of supporting 7 teams at strength. This means that 2 teams may not survive. Tasmania's population is 500 000 over all. The state is the smallest and people are prepared to drive a couple hours to watch an AFL match. Launceston is able to support 4 games a year at strength, but they may not be able to support 11 games a year. But if Launceston could support 4, they could possibly manage 5 or 6. Likewise Hobart, with a slightly larger population could support at least 4 games. Therefore, arguably Tasmania could easily support a minimum of 8 games a year if split between the two cities. They could possibly support 11 games.

If Tasmania is to lure a Victorian team to change their name officially to Tasmania, i.e the Tasmanian Hawks, Tigers, Devils, Saints or Bulldogs, then the team could play 8 home games in Tasmania, and perhaps 2 or 3 "home games" in Melbourne. This would please their Melbourne supporters and ensure that the team would not be too heavy a financial load for Tasmania. As Tasmania's population grows, they should eventually be able to host a full season of home games. Tasmania may not be able to convince the AFL to let the Devils advance to the 1st division, but they may be able to convince a Victorian team to relocate. The AFL will hardly be able to argue with that, if a Victorian club choose it of their own will. The final question remains, will any of the Victorian clubs be smart enough, or will they eventually disappear from the AFL altogether?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Malcolm Speed sacked from ICC- world split in cricket inevitable.

I haven't written anything about Zimbabwe in a while. This may seem strange considering their recent election. The truth is, I was holding out silent hope that Mugabe could actually be ousted this time. The weeks have gone by and he has not stood down yet, all the while more and more people continue to be arrested. It seems 165 000% inflation is not high enough, perhaps he is reaching for a cool million. What ever the story, Zimbabwe is fast turning into the biggest disaster on the planet. I am not sure of the number of deaths that have occurred there, but perhaps the figures should be compared with Rwanda, Sudan and Ethiopia, just a few of the African disasters of recent years. How long will the world stand idly by?

I had always thought Malcolm Speed was impotent in his role of Chief Executive of the ICC, in that he allowed Mugabe to continue to receive the money given to Zimbabwe cricket. Many Zimbabwe players, including black players like Henry Olonga left the team and country to protest the dictatorship of Mugabe. Now I read that Speed has been stood down from his job for finally standing upon principle and wanting Zimbabwe removed from world cricket (this is the only way to stop ICC money ending up in Mugabe's pockets). I still largely think Speed is impotent for not having spoken up sooner, but good on him for doing so at this point.

The British government have previously said that they will not allow a Zimbabwe touring side into England. This would effect next year's Twenty 20 world championship. The ICC have said that if Britain take this stance, the tournament will be moved. It is well known that political forces in South Africa and India do not want to punish Zimbabwe. This is misplaced vengeance against the former British Empire.

The ICC no longer represent all interests in cricket. The Twenty 20 championship next year will likely not be held in England. A recent comment I read from an English person supported the idea of preferring a Standford sponsored Twenty 20 premier league in England over the world championship. The rifts in world cricket are widening. A split is in the making. Eighty percent of Australia's current contracted players have lost faith in the ICC now. Personally I want the revolution to come. I want test cricket to survive. However, I think that Australia will always play England, West Indies and New Zealand in test matches.

Early history of Australian Rules Football, and the future expansion of the game

Australian Rules Football will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year on August 7th. This is actually an inaccurate reckoning of history. It is more accurate to place the origin of a code of football at the date of the codification of rules which was first done on May 17th, 1859.
Some historians like to argue that Australian football can be traced back to the Ballarat goldfields in 1853. There can be no doubt that games of football were played there, but these were likely of varying rules just as the many varied games played by public schools and clubs in England at the time. It has been argued that Gaelic Football had an influence on Australian football, and if this is true, the goldfields are certainly a place where this could have happened.
The only code of football that existed in 1853 was Rugby. Some schools and clubs played by Rugby rules and others had their own rules. Before a game of football the two teams would have to agree upon the rules of the game. Agreeing upon the rules was actually a tradition for a long time even after rules had been codified. Such traditions could allow for a New Zealand Rugby team to play some Australian Rules games when touring, or a Melbourne Aussie Rules team play Rugby rules against a Sydney club. So the various games of football played on the goldfields would likely have been played to varying rules.

(An Australian rules football match at the Richmond Paddock, Melbourne, in about 1866. The building in the background is the Melbourne Cricket Ground pavilion.)

Tom Wills is credited with being one of the original inventors of the rules to Australian Football. Tom Wills' life is an indicator of how important the game of Australian Rules is to our culture. He was the grandson of a convict, and as such his influence was denied in the early decades of the game. Wills was born near Gundagai, NSW 1835, but spent most of his childhood in the Ararat District of Victoria, moving there at the age of 4. He grew up with the Tjapwurrung people and even spoke their language. He knew the dances and games of the Tjapwurrung people. Although there is no direct evidence that he played the game of Marn Grook, it would be very likely. Wills was sent to the Rugby School in England at the age of 14 (1849) and returned to Australia in 1856 at the age of 21. By that stage in his life both the games of Marn Grook and Rugby were a big part of who Tom Wills was as a person.
Tom Wills also had an extensive cricket career, representing the colony of Victoria on numerous occasions. Great significance should be attached to the fact that Wills was the coach of the first Australian touring cricket team to England in 1868, which was made up of all indigenous players. Wills had a close relationship with many indigenous Australians and it is clear that his relationships were genuine. The stake holding of indigenous Australia in the game of Australian Football was high from the beginning and this can be seen today in high representation in the AFL. (2006 figures place the indigenous representation at 10% in the AFL, where as indigenous people in the general population are at 2%. See Traditional Recreation.)
Sadly, Wills later life ended in tragedy. His family moved to Queensland in 1861 and were massacred by a group of local indigenous people while Tom was away for a couple days. The perpetrators of the massacre had no idea who they were hurting, their vengeance poorly placed it only resulted in more pain and suffering. This tragedy caused Wills to turn to alcoholism and although he maintained good relationships, (the 1868 cricket tour was after the massacre), it took him on a path towards suicide in 1880 at the young age of 44. His contribution to Australian sport was none the less invaluable, and his efforts still provide today one of the strongest possibilities of reconciliation between European and Indigenous Australia.

(Aboriginal cricket team with Tom Wills at MCG in 1867.)

The AFL would like to celebrate the game between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College on August 7th, 21st and September 4th, 1858 as the first Australian Football Rules game. In reality it was a game with few rules, similar to many public schools in England, but with perhaps even less rules. Wills was one of the umpires in this game and it would have had some similarities to Rugby. The rules of the AFL game we know today were still under development.

The codification of the rules is the true birth of the game. Events prior to codification were simply formative and embryonic. The rules were drawn up at the Parade Hotel in East Melbourne by Wills, W. J. Hammersley, J. B. Thompson and Thomas Smith on May 17th, 1859. These rules were established on behalf of the Melbourne Football Club, three days after its founding. The game was based heavily upon Rugby with some obvious influence from Marn Grook. Other creators of the rules had experience at Irish games, which also had some level of influence. The original Melbourne rules did not require the ball to be bounced. Geelong Football Club formed on July 18th, 1859. While they did not codify their rules as Melbourne FC did, they did play with a rule that the ball needed to be bounced every 20 yards. In 1866 agreement between clubs led to the Victorian Rules, which required the ball to be bounced.

The game spread to various parts of Australia at a fairly rapid pace. Adelaide formed a club in 1860 (now defunct), by 1877 the South Australian Football Association was formed, months before the Victorian Football Association. The game was played in Tasmania by 1864, Queensland 1866, New South Wales 1877, Western Australia 1881, Northern Territory 1916. While the game continued to be successful and grow in most parts of Australia it had greater competition from Rugby League and Union in Queensland and New South Wales.

The New South Wales Football Association was formed in 1880. A game was played against Victoria in 1881. The first recorded game in NSW was between Carlton Football Club and the Waratah Rugby Club in 1877. The Waratah club enjoyed the game so much that they switched codes in 1882. The NSW Football League was formed in 1903. By 1911 it was more popular than Rugby Union in Sydney. Rugby League was formed in 1908 in NSW. The NSWRL was denied access to many grounds by the NSWRU. The NSWFL graciously allowed the RL two weekends at the SCG in 1908. Rugby League performed very well infront of healthy crowds over those weekends and Australian Rules lost their impetus. As the Rugby League game was professional many players switched to that code. Professionalism was approved by the Australasian Football Council in 1911, for a limit of 30 shillings per game, but by that stage Rugby League had taken a big lead in Sydney. Australian Rules never caught up again. The game has always been popular in the Riverina region of southern NSW.

The history of Australian football in New Zealand is largely another unknown story. The game in New Zealand also had an early chance of success. The Christchurch Football Club played a game very similar to Melbourne Rules in 1863. Many men from the Australian colonies first came to the Otago region in the 1860s for a gold rush. There was another large migration of Australians to New Zealand in the 1890s, some of those men looking for work had played in the VFA and VFL. By 1882 there were 36 clubs in New Zealand, by 1901 there were 115 clubs in New Zealand. The game was so popular in New Zealand that they were a founding member of the Australasian Football Council in 1890. The name of the game was officially changed to Australasian Rules Football to reflect this change. The highpoint of New Zealand football was the Jubilee Carnival in Melbourne in 1908. New Zealand defeated NSW and QLD and finished fourth out of seven teams. World War 1 halted the development of the game in New Zealand. For what ever reason. many of the Australians who migrated to NZ in the 1890s returned to Australia after the war. Many of the NZ players of Australasian Football were killed in WW1. Australasian Football never really recovered in New Zealand and it died out by the 1930s. In 1927 when the Australasian Football Council met, there were no delegates from New Zealand, so it was voted to change the name to the Australian Football Council. (The council no longer exists. The game is now administered internationally by the AFL.) Australian Football was reestablished in New Zealand in the 1970s, and there are now three leagues in the country.

The New South Wales and New Zealand stories are interesting accounts of what could have been. AFL is a minor code of football in today's world. It is however a force to be reckoned with in Australia. It is now undisputedly the largest code of football in Australia based upon attendance figures. It is second to soccer in terms of participation, which is largely due to many parents feeling that soccer is a safer game for children. AFL games regularly attract more people than Rugby League games in Sydney and Brisbane.

The market for football codes is by no means fixed or saturated. Soccer and their A-League have had some real success in the last few years in Australia. While Rugby League may be expanding on the Gold Coast in Queensland, it is not growing as a game in Australia. It was greatly hurt by the Super League division of the 1990s. Rugby Union turning professional in 1995 has further eaten into the Rugby League market with the introduction of the Super 14 competition against New Zealand and South African teams. Soccer is AFL's biggest threat in Australia in the long term. The AFL still have a clear lead, but they can not afford to rest on their laurels. They are well aware of the situation, thus their current expansion plans for Gold Coast and western Sydney. The AFL plan to have a Gold Coast team in the league by 2011 and a Western Sydney team by 2012. These plans of expansion are wise and will keep the AFL on a strong course of growth, by taking in new markets.

The AFL's recent rejection of a Tasmanian government petition for a team seems harsh in some ways. The issue of debate is whether the AFL is an open market and if anyone should be allowed to compete. The AFL have no desire to stretch themselves too thin, They will need to inject a lot of capital in the early years to the 17th and 18th teams before they turn a profit independently. Tasmania have not lost their chance for an AFL team. Either they need to be prepared to wait longer until the new teams are established or they should continue to court a Victorian team. The Hawks have a good relationship in Tasmania, but may be unwilling to leave Hawthorn behind. A second Victorian team could set themselves up for 4 games a year in Hobart like the Hawks have done in Launceston. A total of 8 games for the state would be only a little less than the 11 they would have with their own state team. A state team would likely split their games between Hobart and Launceston anyway.

The game of AFL (the official international name now) has established leagues in 14 countries. This is a long way behind Rugby Union which is played in 129 countries and Soccer which is played in 207 countries. But the game of AFL is expanding healthily none the less. Over the last couple decades there have been a handful of players recruited from Ireland, as the game of Gaelic Football is similar to Australian Football. The exciting new success story is in South Africa. There are currently 10000 people participating in the sport. The exciting factor is that people from all races participate, where as only white people play Rugby and only black people play Soccer. AFL is becoming the game for all people and has even been officially recognised by the South African government as the football code of reconciliation. It is not hard to establish AFL in South Africa as it is best suited to cricket grounds which have remained unused in the Winter (Rugby and Soccer have their own stadiums.) The business plan in South Africa is to see 30000 people playing the sport within 3 years. It is widely hoped that players will be recruited to the AFL even within the next 5 years and that the competition there will be as strong as South Australia or Western Australia within 20 years.

To be continued....


Laws of Australian Football.

History of Australian Rules Football.

Geelong Football Club.

Australian Rules Football.

Indigenous Australians.

Australian Rules Football in New South Wales.

Oldest Football Club.

"Rules" almost had Sydney's paddock.

Aussie rules almost had Sydney.

History- Australian Football.

History of Australian football in New Zealand.

History of the game in New Zealand.

International Leagues.

AIS tour of South Africa.

Australia's battle of the codes- statistics.

The English origins of Australian Football.

Australasian Football Jubilee Carnival.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lest we forget

Today is ANZAC day, it is also Good Friday in Russia. These two days have a powerful intersection, read more here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rugby vs Soccer

In researching the history of football and learning about the development of Rugby, Soccer and Australian Rules football, a large question has developed in my mind. What are the reasons that Soccer has been more successful than other codes of football in spreading around the world?

Rugby developed the original rules to their game in 1845. There was then a set of rules developed called the Cambridge rules in 1848 that was a mixture of the games of Rugby and Soccer. In 1863 an attempt was made to standardise the rules of football. During this process there was a falling out. Association Football came out of the 1863 talks and the Rugby people went their own way. They continued to play with their 1845 rules until they established their Rugby Union in 1871 and then established the Laws of Rugby.

Australian Rules football had already established their rules by 1859. The first clubs Melbourne and Geelong were established in 1859 and Adelaide in 1860.
The early expansion of Rugby and Soccer was similar. Rugby had their first international match against Scotland in 1871, Soccer had their first international match against Scotland in 1872.
The Scottish FA established themselves in 1873, the Welsh in 1875, and the Irish in 1880. Rugby was a little earlier in its expansion. Sydney University in Australia established a club in 1864, Queens University in Ireland in 1869, Nelson Football Club in New Zealand in 1870, Le Havre France in 1872, Heidelberg Germany in 1872. The Scottish Rugby Union was formed in 1873, the same year as the Scottish FA. By 1874 Rugby had spread to USA, Canada and South Africa. If Rugby spread faster than Soccer, then why did Soccer spread more successfully in the long run?

Perhaps the first reason is that Soccer established a formal competition before Rugby did. Various Rugby clubs played each other for fun but did not have established leagues. The FA established the FA cup in 1871 with 50 teams; a knock out tournament. The next big development was in 1885 when Soccer turned professional, something which Rugby Union was loathed to do and caused their split with Rugby League in 1895. By 1895, the Rugby game that had spread around the world was Union not League. Rugby Union insisted on their amateur status for the next 100 years until it turned professional in 1995.

Soccer established their League Championship in 1888 as a response to the development on professionalism. So Soccer already had a professional league in 1888, while Rugby was still an amateur game without leagues, even though it was still played in more parts of the world at the time.

Australian football had their first leagues in 1877, both the South Australian Football Association (12 teams) and the Victorian Football Association (8 teams) started official competition that year. The Victorian Football League established itself as professional in 1897 when it split from the Victorian Football Association. Australian Football spread to New Zealand in the 1860s when there was a gold rush in the Otago region. By the 1880s the game was officially called Australasian football. There were 115 Australasian football clubs in New Zealand in 1901, with New Zealand a member of the Australasian Football Council. In 1908 New Zealand competed in the Jubilee Australasian Football Carnival in Melbourne. But the first world war ravaged the ranks of New Zealand Australasian Football players. After the war the game never really recovered. As Rugby was more popular, Australasian Football had died out in the 1930s, but was reintroduced there in the 1970s. Australian Football did not spread anywhere else in the early years of the game, although some argue that it had an influence on Gaelic Football in Ireland. The reason that Australian football did not spread very far is that Australia was so far from the rest of the world. Soccer spread throughout Europe and the British empire as Britain was a world power. Australia was just a collection of colonies at the end of the world.

The truth is that Soccer organised itself into leagues and professionalism a lot earlier than Rugby did. The games of Rugby and Soccer spread at similar rates in the early years. A Rugby Union was formed in Argentina in 1899 just six years after an FA was formed there. FIFA established itself in 1904 with 7 national members (with the noted absence of England). FIFA did not spread the game as such in the early years. The IRB (International Rugby Board, established in 1886), did not spread the game of Rugby either. Both games spread naturally as cultural ideas spread across borders. But it seems that where ever soccer spread it did so upon a larger base of organisation in England.

Rugby's decision to remain amateur statues most likely harmed its popularity around the world. While soccer players would not lose money for taking time off work and in later decades they could make a living from the game, Rugby players could not do so for another 100 years or so. It is true that the Rugby League in northern England was professional, just as Australian Football was, but Rugby League was not the game that spread around the world.

This has given soccer a head start of 100 years over Rugby. Soccer has had a similar break over Australian football, due to Australia's isolation. But Rugby is a thriving international professional sport today. Italy recently joined the six nations Rugby tournament in Europe in 2000. Argentina is poised to join the Southern Hemisphere tournament against South Africa, Australia and New Zealand within the next few years. Rugby is expanding at a fast rate and is even experiencing a revival in Canada and the USA.

The great FIFA lie: that the Chinese invented soccer (football)

(Note: After reading this you may like to read The history of expansion of football codes)

Quote: FIFA says its historians have proof that the game -- then called cuju or "kickball" -- originated in China some 2,000 years ago. It was even played for emperors.

Read FIFA's story here and here. This particular story apparently says that it is an "historical fact" that the Chinese invented the game of soccer.

Whooah, what a lie from the apparent victors in world football at this point in history. We all know that the winners like to rewrite history, but the Chinese did not invent soccer. This is a gross lie by FIFA designed to give them market presence in China, so that they can continue their cultural and economic conquest of the world.

Many, many ancient societies have their own versions of ball games and football games. It is important to examine the historical facts, Read my previous post on the development of football codes to understand the accurate historical story.

Some tribes in the Americas had a game where two opposing tribes played in a very large area with a ball. The object of the game was to make the opponent drop the ball on the ground. The captain of the losing team would have his heart cut out. This was a kind of "friendly" war to minimise the number of deaths.

Australian Aboriginal peoples in the South East of Australia played a game called Marn Grook, which was a football game played with a possum skin. The game of Marn Grook is most likely a lot older than the Chinese game of Cuju.

In south east Asia in the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Philippines and Indonesia, a game called Sepak takraw is played, it is a game descended from Cuju, but it is not soccer.

The Mesoamericans had their own ballgame, using rubber balls.

The Choctaw people in North America has a stick ball game with sometimes as few as 20 players but also up to 300 players. Although they used sticks, the object was to score a goal, much like mob football.

There is also the Roman game of Harpastum, which was related to the Greek game of Paganica. Harpastum apparently was similar in appearance to Rugby.

It is true that the Chinese game of Cuju, did sometimes involve kicking the ball "through an opening, measuring only 30-40cm in width, into a small net fixed onto long bamboo canes". But other variations of the game also involved kicking the ball at a post in the middle of the field.

Proto forms of football and other various ball games existed in many parts of the ancient world. As inventions go, humans often independently come up other with similar ideas in completely isolated locations. The Chinese did not invent Soccer (football) anymore than the Greeks invented running.

The true ancestor of Soccer is actually the old English game of Mob Football, Mob football had very few rules. As a result, by the time of the 19th century there were very many variations of the rules of football. Football was played by boys in public schools across southern England. Each of the schools had separate rules. This did not matter when they only played amongst themselves. It only became an issue when the various schools wanted to play against each other. They were then forced to agree on a set of rules before a game began. Two of the most famous schools to come up with their own sets of rules were Rugby and Eton. The game of Rugby is essentially descended from the Rugby School and the game of Soccer from the Eton School. Nevertheless there was a period of 40 years when various schools played against each other that the rules of football were up for debate. These 40 years were the smelting fire that turned mob football into the two games of Rugby and Soccer, with the final split happening on December 8th, 1863.

It is very clear that Soccer was invented by the English and is a game descended from English mob football. While many ancient games may bear resemblance to modern forms of football, this does not mean that they are the "invention" of modern forms of football. The Chinese invented their own game 2000 years ago, that while it has some very vague similarities to modern Soccer, had no influence on the invention of the game what so ever. FIFA have simply tried to rewrite history for their own purposes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A history of the development of football codes from proto football (the Rugby and Soccer split)

An early Australian Rules Football game in 1879.

I find the history of football interesting, no less because Australia is poised for the great football wars. What many people do not realise is that the sport we call "footy" in most of Australia is actually older than soccer. It always helps to have an understanding of history before making judgements in these issues. Recently I read a blog about soccer by an American who claimed that Americans didn't like soccer because it is an "ethnic sport" (i.e Mexicans). There have been similar arguments about soccer in Australia in recent decades.

To understand the history of all football codes better, it helps to understand the concept of "proto-football." Much like an ancestral language such as Proto Indo-European, there was a proto form of football that no longer exists today, and is the ancestor of all modern football codes. In fact there were proto football games in many cultures around the world, just as there were proto versions of bat and ball games. However it is the English proto-football that all modern codes are descended from. No other versions were ever formalised in other countries.

Proto-football was a game with sometimes a round ball and sometimes an oval ball. The basic concept was to move the ball to one end of the field. Sometimes this was done with only feet and sometimes with hands too. There were not a lot more rules than this. Modern sports began to be formalised within the 19th century. There are perhaps many reasons for this, which I have not researched closely, but emancipation is probably a big one.

Rugby School, 1859.

Rugby Union is actually the oldest of the formalised codes. Perhaps its history could be traced to 1823, when during a game of proto-football William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it. This story has been disputed though. In 1839, the world's first formal football club of any kind was founded, the Barnes Club in London, it was a Rugby club. Then in 1845 the rules of Rugby were formalised. These rules were accepted by some football teams and not by others. Also in the 1820s, boys at the Eton school made a rule that the ball should not be touched with the hands, which could be seen as the embryonic development of soccer. At that stage there were still many varieties of football played and teams often had to agree on the rules before the game began.

I have mentioned in a previous post some of the story behind the development of Australian Rules Football. There are perhaps many factors involved in the birth of Australian football, but it was definitely a descendant of proto-football. There was even a proto-football game called Marn Grook played by Australian Aboriginal people with a possum skin, which was a foundational influence in the game. Considering that the Australian Aboriginal peoples are the most ancient peoples on earth, proto-football could possibly have existed for millenia.

Australian Football Rules were codified in 1859 by Tom Wills and the Melbourne Football Club. Geelong had their own rules which did not require the ball to be bounced, but by 1866 they accepted the Melbourne rules. The Melbourne Club was founded on May 14th 1859 and the Geelong Club shortly after on July 18th, 1859. Australia being so far from the rest of the world, and transport being what it was, Australian football began to develop on its own. The game was played a little in South Africa and Scotland circa 1900. In 1900 there were 100 clubs in New Zealand. New Zealand was a founding member of the Australasian Football Council. (See- Australian Rules - from Colonial past-time to World Footy.) The biggest reason why soccer did not take off in Australia is that it was only birthed as a sport long after Australia was formed. This is different from cricket, which was well established before Australia was ever settled by the English.

Soccer, or "Association Football" was not codified until 1863. There were many football clubs in England at the time who had to agree on the rules of the game before it started. Some played a game more similar to Rugby, some more similar to Soccer. An association of clubs came up with the rules for the game that is soccer or that much of the world call football. It is important to understand that even though this code is considered "the world game" it has no stronger claim on the name football than any of the other codes. It's birth came in the same time period as Rugby and Australian Rules Football (indeed a little later). Soccer is a derivative of the word association, from Football Association.

During the codification of rules for the Football Association there was a dispute at the final meeting on December 1st 1863. The initial treasurer for the FA withdrew the club of Blackheath over two important rules that had been withdrawn. These two rules were 1) being able to carry the ball in the hands or under the arm and 2) being allowed to kick, trip, tackle and knock a player down (hacking). These are the fundamental differences between Rugby and Soccer. F.W.Campbell the treasurer of Blackheath was recorded to say, "hacking is an essential element of the 'football' game that this club (Blackheath) wants to play. To eliminate hacking would "do away with all the courage and pluck from the game, and I will be bound over to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's practice". These differences began in the 1820s and were still being sorted out in the 1860s. The game of soccer as we know it today did not exist before 1863. This dispute lead other Rugby clubs to break from the Football Association and to form the Rubgy Union in 1871.

Australian Rules Football and Gaelic Football have an interesting relationship. There are arguments that each sport was influenced by the other. What ever the case, the Gaelic Athletic Association codified their game in 1887. Rugby and Soccer had been played in Ireland during the 1860s and 1870s and were both influential in the game of Gaelic Football. Hurling probably also has some influence on the game and controversially also Australian Football.

American Football diverged from Rugby and no other sport. Rugby was played in both America and Canada in the second half of the 1800s, but with the development of their own versions of Football, Rugby faded in both of those countries and is only beginning to increase in popularity now. American Football can trace its history back to the first recorded game in 1892. The American Professional Football Association was not formed until 1920.

Rugby League split from Rugby Union in 1895 over a dispute regarding payments. Northern Rugby teams in England were mostly made up of coal miners who could not afford to take time off work to play without compensation. The southern clubs believed that Rugby should remain an amateur sport and disagreed. This led to the formation of the Northern Rugby Union. The rules gradually changed over the next 12 years. In 1907 the rules were codified separately from Rugby Union and in 1922 the name of the NRFU was changed to the Rugby League.

Soccer may be the most popular version in the world, but it is not the oldest form of the game. Rugby has a stronger claim than soccer to being the older game. Soccer does not have an exclusive claim on the word football. It would in many ways be more accurate to use the word "football" as an umbrella term for the 7 codes of the game (Rugby Union, Australian Rules, Soccer, Gaelic Football, American Football, Rugby League and Canadian Football). Each of the seven codes have terms to refer to themselves. I resent the marketing approach of Soccer in Australia, that they claim to be the true version of Football, and that they have a greater claim on the name. This is historically, grossly inaccurate. Australian Rules Football or Footy is an older game than Soccer and Soccer did not even exist before 1863, when it split with the then dominant version of the game, Rugby.

Further evidence that Aussie Rules is the reconciliation code of football.

A history of Rugby, demonstrates that proto versions of football from around the world are common ancestors of both Soccer and Rugby. Soccer does not have an exclusive claim on this.

Australian Rules - from Colonial past-time to World Footy-

Wikipedia articles were consulted on the history of all football codes.

Appendix: Codification of major world sports:

1571: Tennis. The game was popular in both England and France and dates back to Norman times. Modern rules have diverged from this earlier game, which was clearly none the less Tennis. Historians now refer to the historic game as "Real Tennis." The first modern tennis club was formed in 1872 in England.
Golf- dates back to the 1100s, but the laws were codified in 1754 by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew's in Scotland.

1716: Curling- popular in the 1500s. The first club, Kilsyth Curling Club in Scotland constituted the laws in 1716.

1728: Cricket- Articles of Agreement, 1728. Laws of cricket codified, 1744. Amendment of Laws (LBW and middle stump added), 1774. Cricket was popular from the 1600s onwards.

1845: Rugby

1845: Knickerbocker Baseball rules. The Knickerbocker club was founded on September 23, 1845. The 20 original rules were written down at the same time. Earlier claims to baseball games played are made before this date, such as a June 4, 1838 game in Beechville, Ontario, but this can not be deemed to have been played to the same rules. A game was played on September 11, 1845 in the New York area, and it is more possible that it was played to similar rules to the Knickerbocker club. The first official game after the Knickerbocker club was formed was on October 6, 1845. First professional club (Cincinatti Red Stockings), 1869. National Association, 1871. National League, 1876.

1848: Lawn Bowls- this would have been a lot earlier. It was already popular in the 1300s, but was banned by the King in the fear that it would detract from Archery practice, needed for battle. The law remained a long time after gunpowder.
Croquet- 1868 (also popular from the 1300s)

1849: Field Hockey- Blackheath, England.

1859: Australian Rules Football (AFL, Footy).

1863: Association Football (Soccer), England.

1871: Rugby Union.

1877: Ice Hockey- the origins of Ice Hockey are hotly disputed as it could have originated from many European versions of the game. In fact a Society for International Hockey Research has been founded to come up with a definitive historical answer to this question. It developed throughout the 1800s in Canada and the first official club was formed in 1877 at Mc Gill University in Montreal, Canada, they are credited with codifying the laws.

1884: Hurling- Modern Laws by the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884. Evidence of the game dates back to 400 AD.

1887: Gaelic Football

1907: Rugby League- Yorkshire, England.

1920: American Football.

1946: Basketball- the game was deliberately invented in 1891. The Basketball Association of America was established in 1946. Significantly however, dribbling was only introduced in the 1950s, when the modern ball was introduced. Originally a soccer ball had been used.

1961: Canadian Football- first club University College, University of Toronto.

1984: International Rules Football. (A hybrid between Gaelic and Australian rules for the purpose of matches between Australia and Ireland.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Etymology of the months of the year

As a bit of a footnote to my thoughts on the names of the days of the week, the months of the year are named:

January- after the Roman god Ianuarius, the god of the doorway, because January is the door to the year.
February- from the Latin, Februum, named after the Roman purification festival Februa, held on the 15th of the month.
March- named after the Roman god of war Martius (Mars). So Mars gets a month and a day.
April- from the Latin Aprilis, which most likely means "opening", referring to the opening of buds in Spring.
May- named after the Greek goddess of fertility, Maia.
June- named after the Roman goddess of marriage, Juno.
July- named after Julius Caesar, although the name Julius comes from the Roman goddess Julus (Venus). Venus also has a month and a day (Friday).
August- named after Caesar Augustus. Augustus means "majestic", "increaser", "venerable."

It is worth noting that July used to be called "Quintilis" (fifth month) and August was "Sextilis" (sixth month). January and February were added later than the other months. There were originally 10 months when the Roman empire first started a calendar, with a monthless Winter period of approximately 61 days. Read more about the Roman calendar.

September- from the Latin "septem" meaning seven; i.e the seventh month.
October- from the Latin "octo" meaning eight.
November- from the Latin "novem" meaning nine.
December- from the Latin "decem" meaning ten.

So five of the months of the year are named for Roman gods, the other seven not. All months of the year in English and in Russian are borrowed from Latin. So it could be argued that the meaning is not carried forward the same way as days of the week are. A borrowing does not carry the same meanings as a "proto" (proto means first, pro means before) word does.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Etymology of the days of the week

A linguist's brain is always dissecting language. I find that I learn language better when I know the root meaning of a word. It is often a fun game to then learn all of the other words connected to a root meaning, or a word tree, so to speak. I have a bit of a personal theory that words carry on the psyche of a culture and previous generations as we pass them on to the next. It's a hard theory to prove and I have other things to work towards that are more important such as saving endangered languages.
I did get to thinking about the days of the week. It is pretty easy for an English speaker to see that Sunday is named after the sun and Monday is named after the moon. Thursday is named after Thor (Norse god) and Saturday after Saturn. But what are the other days named after?
I did a bit of a search and discovered that all of the days of the week are named after Germanic, Norse or Roman gods.

Sunday: named after the Germanic sun goddess "Sunne."
Monday: named after the Germanic moon god "Mani" (old English "Mona").
Tuesday: named after the Norse god Tyr (or Mars) became Twis in old English.
Wednesday: named after the Germanic god Woden or Norse god Odin, who is Mercury.
Thursday: named after the Germanic god, or Norse god Thor, who is Jupiter.
Friday: from the old English Frige meaning Venus.
Saturday: from the old English Saetern or Saturn.

While it is true that all of the days of the week are named for bodies in the heavens, they were also named for pagan gods. The concept of a heavenly body and a god were one and the same to the ancient peoples who gave the names. This pattern of naming the days is the most common through out all languages of the world. The pattern is broken in cultures that experienced a spiritual awakening in ancient times.

Russian is a language that does not name the days of the week for pagan gods. Russian names the days of the week largely based upon the numbering system.

(Sunday) Воскресенье, (Voskreseniye) -Meaning resurrection, referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(Monday) Понедельник, (Ponedelnik)- All other Slavic languages call Sunday "Nedelya", literally no business or no work. Sunday is the day of no work. Ponedelnik is the day after no work. Interestingly, Russian is the only Slavic language to use the word resurrection to refer to Sunday. Russian uses the Slavic word for Sunday, "nedelya" to refer to "week."
(Tuesday) Вторник, (Vtornik)- literally, the second (day).
(Wednesday) Среда, (Sreda)- literally, the middle. This however is inconsistent with Tuesday being numbered second.
(Thursday) Четверг, (Chetverg)- literally, the fourth (day).
(Friday) Пятница, (Pyatnitsa)- literally, the fifth (day).
(Saturday) Суббота (Subbota)- literally, the Sabbath,

The Russian language really came into birth after 800 AD and was still a very young language by the time of official Christianisation in 988 AD. So any usage of Old Slavic pagan names for days of the week would have been quite obvious to early Russian Christians. I have tried to research on the internet Old Slavic names for days of the week and have been unsuccessful at turning anything up. Early Russian Christians would have had a strong desire to change the naming system fo days of the week.

There are two basic systems for naming days of the week- numbering or pagan gods. There are some religious variations, work based variations and legal based variations in various languages. There is no system that uses a "world" religious name for every day of the week. The Irish language uses Lord's Day for Sunday, First fast for Wednesday, Day between fasts for Thursday and Fast for Friday. It maintains the planets/ pagan gods for the remaining days.

Many Muslim countries have changed their languages throughout history to a numbering system (this is a supposition of mine, I would have to check up each respective proto language to confirm this), while often referring to Friday as a meeting or gathering day.

My question is, how important is is that English days (and many other languages) are named after pagan gods? It could be argued that it is not important, because language changes and people do not think of pagan gods when naming days of the week. But is this really true? On a latent level many of us know that the days are named for pagan gods. Of course, western societies by and large are not majority Christian any more, so there would be no desire to change the system for a majority of people.

The Quakers were a deep thinking people and decided to drop the pagan system and change to a numbered system- Lord's Day, second day, third day etc. The Hebrew days of the week were first day, second day, so on and Sabbath for the seventh day. One day, when there is a great spiritual awakening in the nations of the west again (which I theologically believe there will be), I wonder if the names of the days of the week will be changed accordingly.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

End of the world just round the corner?

Well I think I have painstakingly explained previously why I think the end of the world is a long way off. But there has been some interesting news this week to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. I was reading and stumbled on this article "World's largest experiment set to go off with a big bang."
It is about the world's largest particle accelerator underground in Switzerland. The experiment is scheduled for July, when two atoms are set to collide at a speed just short of light. The temperature created will be 100 000 times hotter than the centre of the sun. (That's a figure that is completely academic to me.) It is hoped that the experiment will create matter and anti-matter previously unobserved. This of course is quite fascinating. It is hoped that analysis of the new matter created will give clues about the big bang.
There are some environmentalists from Hawaii (not physicists) who are afraid that the experiment will create a black hole that will suck up all life on the planet. They have attempted to legally stop the experiment from going ahead. I tend to think that their fears are completely unfounded.

But you never know, perhaps they are on to something along with the cult that just came out of the cave in European Russia. Perhaps if the Hawaiian environmentalists ask really nicely the Russians will let them join their cult.

Read here for some opinions from the public.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Kingdom of Comfort- Delirious? (review)

I'm not gonna take the time to review this entire record for you, except to say, it's grrrrreat mate. Seems I got it earlier than most, and for this I am happy, even if I can hardly brag to anyone about it from deep inside Siberia.

First of all, you can completely skip my attempt at a review and head straight to the Delirious? website and listen to it there, in entirety. This album is seriously growing on me very quickly. One of the things I look for in a new Delirious record is a song that I can worship God too. At first they appear to be almost missing. But I love the way that this band does not stick to any formulas at all. They never try to write a worship song per se, but the depth of love of God just overflows in every song, and it is impossible not to worship God in every song.

This album has a lot of depth to it. The band had spent a lot of time in India and Cambodia, not seeking inspiration as such, but simply to share their music there with people as an act of generosity. Their experiences obviously rattled them and have wrought a different kind of Delirious?, a Delirious that has obviously danced with cynicism and despair and yet the Holy Spirit has won out in their hearts. Lyrics such as: "I thought I believed but I just turn away from these souls living in this hell today" are then followed up with "Your love, finds a way to break through this love finds a way to kiss you" to prove that there is always hope when Jesus' love is part of the equation. The title track is a healthy reminder to not be consumed by the consumer age: "Save me, save me from the kingdom of comfort where I am king from my unhealthy lust of material things."

Musically, there is not a huge departure from previous records, but a welcome progression into new strong melodies, riffs and choruses. The biggest change is that the choruses are packed full of harmonies, and the strength shines through, only to improve on previous performances.

If you're a big fan and you want to put Kingdom of Comfort on your ipod now, then you will need a US credit card. I bought it from Amazon for $8.99. It will be on iTunes Canada on April 22nd. I have no idea when it will be available in Australia. Apparently I will miss out on a 32 page booklet packed with stories. That's a little disappointing, but hey, I got it early and I'm doing a little for the planet along the way.

The record has 12 tracks, but there are some bonus tracks for free download on the band's website in the "Living Room." Personally, I find the bonus song "Hallelujah" as strong if not stronger than some songs that made the cut. I hope they do it, in concert, and I hope I get the chance to see them play again. They are playing Australia now. There are some dates in North America in July, August and November, and a big gap in between. Here's hoping some of that gap in between will be in western Canada in August or September.

Rock on.