Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Episode 33 - Paul Nicholls, Eadie Fraser, and creative non-fiction

Download and listen to episode 33 here.

If You Know Your History returns for its first episode of 2020 in the most creaky way possible, coughing, spluttering, and wheezing our way through the show. Also we ended up with dead air at one point and no Josh to help us - very frightening.

We ease our way back into things by looking at some of what's gone on over the preceding few months, including:

  • Mark Boric's continued adventures in scanning.
  • George Cotsanis' video uploading.
  • John Punshon's continuing difficulties in getting access to Football Victoria teamsheets.
  • Noting the small trend of clubs reverting to old names and logos, or incorporating such into new names and/logos, following the end of the old version of the National Club Identity Policy.
  • Brief musings on point deductions.
  • A quick look at the Daily Tribune's praise for North Korea circa 1965.
Then in 100 Years Ago Today, we travel to Newcastle to inquire after the reluctant Mr Tamlyn, and the men who won't allow him to quit his post; to Ipswich, where we see the seeds of future club vs district squabbles; and to Spotswood and Footscray, where the differences between the annual general meetings of the local soccer and Australian Rules clubs are quite noticeable.

Our guest for this week is Australian soccer Paul Nicholls. Paul's work has been featured a number of times on the show, but his appearance on this episode was prompted by this excellent creative non-fiction piece on the fate of champion 19th century Scottish footballer Eadie Fraser, and the search for his final resting place in New South Wales. We talk to Paul about he got into soccer, and why he's chosen the use of creative non-fiction as his medium of choice for exploring Australian soccer history; and of course talk about the tragic end of Eadie Fraser.

(for more of Paul's work on a variety of sports, including soccer, check out his profile on The Roar site)

We finish the show (without taking our second break) by looking at the recent passing of Paul Mavroudis' father - with the soccer angle of that written up in this piece - and the depressing thought that not only do we not have a unified soccer story in Australia (even a pretend one), but that there's no hope of any cultural continuity being created in the future either.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Episode 32 - Francesco Ricatii, Matthew Klugman, & Italian-Australian soccer fans

Download and listen to episode 32 here.

Our final episode for 2019 sees the return of Tony Persoglia after illness to co-host the show.

We look at the Mark Boric Express, where the lid on Mark's scanner has cracked. Still, he's pushing on with the scanning and uploading. We note that one of the more interesting/diverting elements that Mark uploaded during the week was an extract from the Brisbane soccer publication Go Soccer, which included a series of a potential names and logos for what would eventually become Brisbane United, and later Brisbane Strikers.

George Cotsanis has uploaded the film reel footage of the second leg of the Australia vs Israel World Cup qualifier from 1969, thus completing the uploads of the various film reels he bought last year.

We also note that Chris Jack - the son of Australian soccer journalist David Jack - is considering distributing his late father's collection of football pins. Chris is planning on photographing and setting up a catalogue of the pin collection, and interested parties should keep tabs on Chris' social media accounts for updates.

In our final 100 Years Ago Today for the year, we look only briefly at Newcastle Catholics; we troll Ian Syson with a 100 year-old Sunderland result; and we get some closure on the match between the crew of the visiting wheat ship, the David Lloyd George, and the local soccer players of Geraldton - whose cricket game from the previous week was postponed to accommodate the soccer match.

We conclude the segment by taking a brief look at the epithet "the simple game", which appeared in a December 1919 article in English rugby league, and which is used sparingly in both positive and negative ways by different writers.

In our middle segment, we talk to Francesco Ricatti and Matthew Klugman, who have co-authored a couple of academic papers of interest:
  • Connected to Something’: Soccer and the Transnational Passions, Memories and Communities of Sydney's Italian Migrants, from 2013
  • Re-Creating Home and Exploring Away in New Cities: Italian Migration and Football Codes Within Australian Urban Centres, from 2019
(As these are papers published in academic journals, in general they are not available to the general public, but if you would like a copy of either of them, just drop Paul a line)

Primarily an oral history project, Ricatti and Klugman's collaboration looks not just at Italian-Australians' involvement within Australian soccer, but also how that involvement with - or in some cases, distance from - Australian soccer shaped their non-soccer lives, and their understanding of what it means to be Italian, Australian, and Italian-Australian. The discussion covers, among other things, questions of identity; individual and community agency; the ways in which attachment to different sports created differing ideas of 'home'; different experiences of Italian-Australian soccer on the basis of gender, class, and age; the difference in the supporter types between Brunswick Juventus, Marconi, and APIA; and the interaction of Italian-Australians involved with soccer with members of other ethnic communities involved with Australian soccer.

In our final segment, we go through the results of an impromptu call-out to our friends and audience to see what historical projects people were looking to work on. And we got a great response - books, websites, blogs, databases, stats projects, maps, archives, kit projects, archives, digitisation - there's so much going on, with ample scope for collaboration across the projects. Best of all, there's evidence that the show has become one of the key nexus points in sharing the passion for Australian soccer history research.

We finish off with thanking a whole bunch who have helped make the show in 2019.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Episode 31 - Les Street & Aussie rules grounds in Oz Soccer; Paul Connolly's 'The Mighty Bras'

Download and listen to episode 31 here

Tony Persoglia is still ill, so tonight Paul is joined in hosting duties by Jason Goldsmith, previously a guest on the show.

On the catch up we play our usual tribute to Mark Boric and his collaborators, and the great scanning and uploading work they're doing. We look at the apples and oranges comparisons made about Ange Postecoglou's J-League title success and the success of other coaches - and yes there are references to snake emojis. 

In 100 Years Ago Today, we critique the batting techniques and temperaments of Geraldton's soccer players... but does it even matter if their cricket match is going to be interrupted by a surprise soccer game; take a look at Eurosnob material in the Adelaide press; check out combination fundraiser and bragging rights matches still being played so late in the year in Newcastle; and finish up at Lithgow, where the local schoolboys are playing for what sound like some very nice trophies

After the break we chat with Les Street about the use of Australian rules football grounds for Australian top-flight soccer grounds, especially in the southern states. During the conversation we sweep across the country from Western Australia to Tasmania, covering grounds old, new and demolished, and grounds which were at least built to be nominally multi-sport venues. We also look at the reasons why some Aussie rules grounds were used by soccer - and why some were perhaps underused. We also cover issues such as pitch alignments, surface conditions, cricket wickets, spectator amenities and sight-lines - and we find that there's been so many "footy" grounds used for top-flight soccer, that we neglect to mention even obvious ones like Victoria Park!

In the final segment we take a look at a hidden gem of Australian soccer books, Paul Connolly's The Mighty Bras, Connolly's 2010 memoir about his first seven years coaching of the Brunswick Zebras senior women's team. This is the ultimate sweet-natured - but not saccharine - grassroots soccer story, about a bunch of women ranging in age from early 30s until early 50s, who suddenly find themselves playing organised soccer despite most of them having next to athletic background, let alone a soccer background. They are neither the pioneering women of yesteryear, who sought out soccer and made it their own (in the broader sense against men’s disapproval, and the disapproval of other women, establishing their own controlling body as well as clubs; neither are they (for the most part) part of the maturing of the girl footballers who had begun to swell junior numbers. 

The book focuses on the team's 2009 season, but also goes back to earlier games and season, covering the high, lows, and middles. When this team started, it was the only senior team for either gender at Brunswick Zebras – the senior men’s wing didn’t start until 2006, and perhaps unusually, the women's team has continued through to 2019. The book provides a snapshot of the kinds of opponents they faced, from across the city, and the conditions that these women played in, and under. The books also looks at the different motivations of the different teams (youth vs age, winning at all costs vs fun), and Paul’s motivations in being their coach. Perhaps most keenly observed, apart from the various characters in the book, are the difference between the expectations of men’s football (even “social” men’s football) and senior women’s football, as well as the culturally entrenched (though not unchangeable) psychological differences between men’s and women’s teams. 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Episode 30 - Lee McGowan and the Matildas; remembering Pim Verbeek; ball boys

Download and listen to episode 30 here.

On this week's episode, fill-in co-host for Ian Syson, Tony Persoglia, is sick, so we've co-opted Lee McGowan - who was in the studio to talk about his book anyway - for the whole hour.

We begin as we usually do, by noting the progress of the Mark Boric Express, which this week saw Mark meet up with Greg Stock somewhere in the middle of the regional Victoria to make an exchange. Check out Mark's Twitter feed for news of his updates, or head straight to the where all the goodness ends up.

The former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek died last week, and we have a segment which covers the somewhat perplexing (to Paul, and a few others) reaction to Verbeek's passing - someone who was arguably largely unloved across the board during his time as Socceroos coach from 2007-2010. Yet as news of his passing came to light last week, there was a respect shown online for Pim that seemed to surpass mere sincere condolences for his family and friends. We look back at how Pim came to be Socceroos coach (including a diversion into the man he beat for the job, one time coaching wunderkind Philippe Troussier); his blunt, honest manner on the quality of the players at his disposal, and the quality of the A-League; the still mystery laden disaster of the Socceroos' opening game of the 2010 World Cup, and the reaction to that at the time; and the ways in which perhaps those in the media and football administration got to see a different side of Pim than what the public did.

(see also Bonita Mersiades' piece remembering Pim Verbeek)

We also noted that a new sports museum has opened in the small town of Rochester (about 180kms north of Melbourne), specialising in sports apparel from the 4,000 item strong collection of John Forbes (not the poet), who worked at Puma for 24 years. The museum probably specialises in cricket and AFL merch, but it's not known what soccer material the museum has in its collection - so if that was the main purpose of your visit, it'd probably be best to call the museum in advance. The museum is open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10am to 4pm, and at other times by appointment. The museum doesn't have a website, but it does have a Facebook page.

In 100 Years Ago Today we look at the big announcement that the English are investigating the possibility of sending a team to Australia and New Zealand in 1921 - provided the 'dominions' can stump up the cash; more soccer folk playing cricket in the summer, this time in inner-Melbourne; some confusing same-day articles in the Wollongong press, which seem to contradict and/or supersede each other; and the brief story of one K. McCredle, a Sydney schoolboy who was a talented cricketer, and before that a talented soccer player - before his school, Sydney Boys High, discontinued its soccer program.

(see also this 2009 piece by Spiro Zavos on The Roar about the decline of rugby at Sydney Boys High, partly replaced as a sport of choice by soccer, but also due to, *cough* demographic changes *cough*)

After that extended opening, we chat to Lee McGowan about his and Fiona Crawford's new book Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women's Football (published by NewSouth), a discussion  which covers, among other things:
  • The early days of women's soccer in Australia, especially in Queensland.
  • The difficulties involved with researching women's sport in Australia.
  • Buried histories, broken continuities, and the predominance of relying on oral histories.
  • The difficulties faced by women's soccer in this country -covering funding, infrastructure, wages, injuries, but most of all, a deficit of respect.
  • The difficulty and necessity of building a culture which can withstand innumerable setbacks and overcomes many obstacles, while somehow leaving a legacy for the following generations.
  • The need to avoid imitating male sporting cultures, all while acknowledging the positive effect many men have had on the Matildas and women's soccer - but also emphasising the need to develop and promote female coaches. referees and administrators
  • And of course, the development of the Matildas from obscurity in the 1970s to mainstream, well-loved brand in the 2010s.
The episode also makes the occasional detours into football literature, ball boys, and Terry Venables.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Episode 29 - Greg Stock & Studs Up; average ages; free dinners

Download and listen to episode 29 here.

On this week's episode Paul brings the show back from someone's unilateral declaration of a hiatus by bringing in local soccer historian, one time If You Know Your History guest, and former host of the Daily Football Show podcast Tony Persoglia to share hosting duties.

We begin the show with the usual catch up/clean up. We also out the call for anyone who might have the following episodes of Brogan Renshaw's Behind the Game podcast, with the interview subject listed where known:

7 (Ian Syson), 25, 26, 28, 43 and 54

Renshaw's podcast, dating from around 2015/2016, was a series of 60 long form interviews with a variety of Australian soccer personalities - historians, players, academics, writers, fans, volunteers, etc. It is a unique snapshot of Australian soccer fandom, and elements of some of the interviews were also used by Joe Gorman in his Death and Life of Australian Soccer. 

If you have any of these missing episodes please get in contact with us at the show, or contact Brogan Renshaw.

After that, we make the announcement that Fiona Crawford and Lee McGowan are launching their new book Never Say Die, about the history of Australian women's soccer, at the following two locations.
  • BRISBANE: Friday November 29th, 6:30pm, at Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford Street, Bulimba.
  • MELBOURNE: Monday December 2nd, at Heidelberg United Soccer Club, Catalina Street
During the previous week Australian soccer's stats guru Andrew Howe made the observation that the top five games in Australian top-flight soccer in terms of average age of a starting XI had all been made in the last couple of years. (for the record, the youngest average for a match was back in 1984) Tony and Paul look at some of the complicating factors in making broad brushstroke claims on what the available data can tell us about historical (and ongoing trends) about the nature of players and squad selection in the Australian top-flight.

Our interview guest this week is Australian soccer historian and stats man Greg Stock. Greg tells us about how became involved with soccer, a story with many similarities to fellow stats man Andrew Howe's story. We then move on to talking about Greg's time at the storied Australian soccer fanzine Studs Up, talking about the nature of the magazine - its grassroots activist, progressive political edge, and its historical elements.

We also focus on Greg's 'Interview with a Formeroo' segment from Studs Up, where Greg would track down former Socceroos both well-remembered and long-forgotten, including a special focus during the interview on Joe Marston and Ken Vairy. We finish up with a discussion about the gradual snowballing in collaboration between local soccer historians centred on Mark Boric's project.

In the final segment we do 100 Years Ago Today, where we look at Sydney Middleton, master athlete; then to Brisbane, where the Brisbane City club is coming back from its war enforced recess; to Newcastle, where various New South Wales soccer bodies are trying to create an overarching, state-wide structure of junior (and eventually senior) soccer; then Geraldton, where the local club is going to play a cricket match; and finally to Toowoomba, where the local soccer writer is miffed and not getting an invitation for dinner party.

And Paul ruins an otherwise perfect show by making the massive cock-up by stating that Victorian referee Perry Mur has a heavy Scottish accent. Ignore that, Mur has a bona fide Aussie accent, and who knows what Paul was thinking when he blurted out that line on the air.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Episode 28 - Bonita Mersiades; Fairfax Media photo collection; Soccer in the Communist press

Download and listen to episode 28 here.

We begin the show by noting Mark Boric and Greg Werner's efforts in getting 1980s editions of Australian Soccer Weekly uploaded on to Mark's site.

We then move to an expansion of the discussion from the previous week on record keeping, noting the failures of both clubs and governing bodies in taking basic record keeping seriously.

Paul discusses the overlooked (by everyone, including himself) 20th anniversary of South Melbourne's win in the inaugural Oceania Club Championships, which were held in Fiji. This segment includes some chat on the tournament itself, a classic Soccer Australia administrative error, but also a recently uploaded Greek language audio recording of the tournament final, as broadcast by Melbourne based Greek-Australian radio station 1422AM 3XY Radio Hellas.

Then Paul promised to get up a website for the show, with a lightly annotated episode guide, in about two weeks. Would he be able to follow through?

Then a brief chat about the 'Acraman game'. a game of some kind of football played in South Australia in 1854.

We chat to Bonita Mersiades, to discuss the acquisition that collective effort by a range of organisations and individuals has secured the purchase of Fairfax Media's photographic collection - including some 19,000 soccer photos. Bonita takes us through the process of becoming aware of the collection being up for sale; the history of the collection itself; the FBI indictment involved in an earlier change of ownership of the collection; the range of photos in the collection, and how much it does or does not crossover with photos in the Schwab and Shorrock collection at Deakin University; the copyright status of photos in the collection; and the eventual plan for housing and displaying photos from this collection.

The show concludes with a lengthy discussion on the coverage of soccer in Tribunethe official newspaper of the long defunct* Communist Party of Australia.

Among other things, we talk about Tribune's political motivations in covering Australian soccer; the familiarity of its writers with both the game of soccer, and Australian soccer's internal politics; Frank Hardy making comment on the game's prospects in Australia compared to the 'traditional' football codes, including digression into a discussion on cultural nationalism; the newspaper's interest in tours from teams from the Soviet bloc; the focus (in Melbourne) on singling out the Croatian community for purported links to the Ustashe movement; the newspaper's decline in covering soccer, alongside thew newspaper's own decline;

The discussion also covers the newspaper's extensive photographic collection, which like the rest of the relevant material exists outside of copyright (we speculate as to why, without touching on the proximity of the SEARCH Foundation, which is reputedly the trustee for the archives of the CPA and associated parties since the CPA's early 1990s dissolution). It should also be noted that the archived material from Tribune spans only from the 1930s to the 1970s, even though the newspaper existed both before and after those dates.

(*it should be noted that the organisational history of the Communist Party of Australia, especially claimant successor organisations, as well as the history of Tribune itself after the mid-1970s, is a very complicated affair - so if we muck up some of the history, we should be forgiven)

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Episode 27 - Roberto Pennino; Superga air disaster; Record Keeping

Download and listen to episode 27 here.

In this episode we cover the deficiencies in record keeping in Football Victoria's state league leading goalscorers and its best and fairest tallies, and ask who's responsible for maintaining the game's records.

We also look at the based-on-an Aboriginal war-cry chant used by the Queensland state team in 1925, and the relationship of Aboriginal kitsch to Australian soccer.

Ian brings up his segment, which is called "Short Memory", on the eternal forgetting of the game - that is, the habit of soccer forgetting its history. Ian reads from his blog, which you can read here.

The main part of the episode is dedicated to a chat with visiting writer Roberto Pennino, who has written books (published in Dutch and Italian language editions) about the Superga air disaster, which in 1949 claimed almost the entirety of playing squad of the great Torino side of the 1940s. (Roberto has also written a book about Dutch footballers in Italy, in Dutch).

We also manage to get some chat about the research on Dutch-Australian soccer clubs which Roberto is helping Adam Muyt with. (Adam is also in the room off mic in the final segment).