Alex Bruce had only one arm, backed up by an artificial one with an iron hook at the end of it … and when he pushed from behind, always of course with the iron hook, it meant weeping and wailing to his unfortunate victim


Volume 1 is still available and can be secured at the price of $35.

Please contact Mark Pennings directly at m.pennings@qut.edu.au to order.

Paperback, 480 pages

ISBN: 978-1-921421-47-1

Publication Date: September 2012

Publisher: Connor Court Publishers

This is volume 1 in a series of four volumes about the origins of Australian football as it evolved in Victoria between 1858 to 1896. This volume addresses its very beginnings as an amateur sport and the rise of the first clubs.

Invented by a group of Melbourne cricketers and sports enthusiasts, Australian Rules football was developed through games played on Melbourne's parklands and was originally known as "Melbourne Football Club Rules". This formative period of the game saw the birth of the first 'amateur heroes' of the game. Players such as T.W. Wills, H.C.A. Harrison, Jack Conway, George O'Mullane and Robert Murray Smith emerged as warriors engaged in individual combat in rugby-type scrimmages.

The introduction of Challenge Cups was an important spur for this burgeoning sport. Intense competition and growing rivalries between clubs such as Melbourne, South Yarra, Royal Park, and Geelong began to flourish and the game developed as a result. In the 1860s, new cups were introduced such as the Caledonian Trophy and the Athletic Sports Committee Challenge Cup which in part catalyzed the strong rivalry that still exists today between clubs such as Melbourne and Carlton.

It also announced a shift in emphasis in the game from footballing individuals towards football teams, and by 1870 there was general agreement that a "Premier" team should be recognised at the end of each season.

By the 1870s the game of "Victorian Rules" had become the most popular outdoor winter sport across the state. In subsequent decades, rapid growth in club football occurred and the game attracted increasing media attention. From amateur heroes came the rise of the clubs.

This is what the media said about Mark’s first volume.

It is, to say the least, comprehensive and compendious. It runs to four volumes! The last will contain the names of 6000-7000 players who appeared before football's supposed nascence.

Greg Baum — The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Aug 2012

There are other histories of Australian rules … but … Pennings has put in the hard yards and his book should be a must-have for anyone with an interest in the great game of Australian rules football.

Mark Lawson — The Australian Financial Review, 13 Oct 2012