The Null Device

Wogball

The Guardian looks at the history of soccer football in Australia, from ostracised pastime of immigrants to its new acceptance by the mainstream, itself a result of recent changes which wiped out the ethnic-sectarian undercurrent:
But the 'ambush' sprung by 'real' football tells a deeper story, of the great changes Australian society has experienced, post-war. With the southern and eastern European migration came soccer, a game derided as 'wogball' by the chauvinistic and racist society of the late 40s, 50s and 60s. It was played in dirt paddocks, not on groomed sports ovals. There are anecdotes of immigrant schoolboys being caned for daring to play the game, as well as for speaking in their parents' tongues to each other, in the playgrounds.
Australian sport was dominated by cricket, rugby union, and rugby league, as well as another code called Australian Rules football, a cross between a pub brawl and gaelic football. This ethnic 'obscurity' persisted, and the administration of inwards looking soccer clubs and teams became mired in ethnic rivalries.
Which rings true; it wasn't that long, from what I recall, that various regional soccer clubs were strongly affiliated with ethnic communities, and from time to time, the clubhouses of clubs associated with ethnic feuds (think Serbs vs. Croats or Greeks vs. Turks) would be torched. This went on until the soccer league collapsed and was rebuilt, with ethnic identities and the word "soccer" banished.

There are 3 comments on "Wogball":

Posted by: dj Fri Jun 23 03:32:16 2006

Yeah, there was and still is some crazy rivalries that go on in the sport. When I played as a kid, the Junior league that I played didn't really have any 'ethnic' teams. I played with and against teams that had a variety of ethnicities in them - Anglo-Celtic, Mediterranean, Latin American, Eastern European, Aborinal and Asian. There was definitely a lot of hostility/mockery towards soccer - I remember when I came to Australia as a kid, getting regularly harangued by some kids for daring to play soccer.

However, when you moved out to the senior leagues, there were still a lot of teams that had close assocations with particular backgrounds.

Posted by: datakid Fri Jun 23 05:04:40 2006

...and oh! the pain it has bought...getting up at 2am or 430am to watch it is killing me...but I must..I am absorbed...it is so grand...my head is melting

Posted by: datakid Fri Jun 23 05:07:42 2006

this is great:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says football (aka soccer) was played by 13.4 per cent of school children in 2003, a sharp rise from 11.4 per cent in 2000. Rugby league fell from 3.6 per cent to 2.9 per cent in participation in the same period, and even cricket wavered, down from 5.3 per cent to 5.0 per cent.

It's already played by more people in school that cricket and rugby league combined!

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