• 2017 ASSH Awards and Honours

    1 December 2016
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    The Chair of the ASSH Awards and Honours Committee is delighted to invite submissions to the following categories:

    • ASSH Book Award
    • ASSH Anthology Award
    • ASSH Student Article Award
    • ASSH Fellow
    • ASSH Service Award

    Submissions are due by 16 March 2017 and awards will be presented at the 2017 Conference Banquet.

    For more information, and to see a list of previous recipients, please visit the ASSH Awards and Honours page.

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  • 18th Tom Brock Lecture

    12 August 2016
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    The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Dean Widders will deliver the XVIIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: My Game, My People.

    Date: Tuesday 20th September 2016
    Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
    Venue: “99 on York”, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000


    Indigenous footballers have contributed more to rugby league than perhaps to any other Australian sport, and the game is a huge part of Indigenous communities. Participation in rugby league has brought many positive outcomes for Indigenous communities but there have also been some challenges along the way. Dean Widders will examine the place of rugby league in those communities through his own experience and look at the ways the game can affect a positive change.


    Dean Widders grew up in Armidale in country NSW where rugby league gave the Indigenous community a chance to make progress provided a strong voice of unity to the Indigenous community. As a player he spent nine years in first grade with the Roosters, Parramatta and South Sydney before finishing his career in England with Castleford. His passion for the game and for helping the Indigenous community has combined to provide him with great opportunities to learn more about the power of his culture. This power motivated him in his career on the field and still motivates him today in his career off the field where he works as an Indigenous leader in rugby league. These days he is employed educating Indigenous players about their responsibilities as role models to our communities, but also seeks to ensure they are armed with the skills and knowledge to have a strong positive voice to create a better Australia.

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  • 2015 ASSH Awards

    11 November 2015
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    Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2015 ASSH Awards.

    ASSH Service Award

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Associate Professor Rob Hess its Distinguished Service Award.

    Rob was president of ASSH between 2011 and 2013. During his term, Rob updated the structure, policies and functions of the executive committee. In so doing, he greatly improved the governance and administration of the Society. As well as president, Rob has served ASSH as:

    • editor of Sporting Traditions between 2003 and 2007,
    • editor of the ASSH Studies Series between 2006 and 2008,
    • editor of the Reviews section for Sporting Traditions since 2008, and
    • an organiser of Sporting Traditions XV in Melbourne in 2005.

    As co-author of A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, which won the ASSH Book Award in 2009, Rob has also helped raise the intellectual profile and credibility of sport history and ASSH in Australia.

    ASSH Anthology Award, 2015

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Examining Sport Histories, edited by Richard Pringle and Murray Phillips, and published by Fitness Information Technology, its award for best Anthology published over the preceding two years.

    Examining Sport Histories comprises 12 chapters by 14 scholars with an interest in sport history. The book tackles three basic questions:

    • What is sport history?
    • How should practitioners do sport history? and
    • What is the relationship between sport history and other academic disciplines?

    In addressing these questions, the editors and contributors advocate for postmodern approaches to sport history. By postmodernism, they mean, siding with

    • the subjective over the objective
    • form over content, and
    • representation over reality.

    In short, Examining Sport Histories advances the view that historians construct history rather than discover the past. Examining Sport Histories will assist historians interrogate the practice of history, and the implications of that practice.

    ASSH Book Award, 2015

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded its premier award to three books:

    • Black and Proud: The Story of an Iconic AFL Photo, by Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond, and published by
    • Sport and the British World, 1900-1930: Amateurism and National Identity in Australasia and Beyond, by Erik Nielsen and published by Palgrave Macmillan.
    • Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity and Cultural Heritage in Hawai‘i, California and Australia, by Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson, and published by the University of Hawai‘i Press.

    In Black and Proud, Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond offer fresh perspectives on the iconic photograph of AFL footballer Nicky Winmar’s defiant stance against racism at Victoria Park, Melbourne, in April 1993. Black and Proud is an exemplary contemporary cultural history that masterfully blends content and form. Klugman and Osmond make powerful use of context; they examine the photograph of Winmar in the context of Australia’s racial past, race relations in the mid-1990s, and the game at Victoria Park in 1993. Black and Proud highlights the centrality of narrative form in history. One member of the committee described the book as a “compelling read” that creates “an element of suspense even though we know some of what happened!” Almost uniquely among historians of sport, Klugman and Osmond give Aboriginal footballers their own voices. And, they reinforce the present-centred nature of history and the importance of moral and political lessons in telling stories about the past. While Klugman and Osmond demonstrate that racism survives in Australian society and Australian football, they also point out that sport enables Aborigines, and Aboriginal communities, to achieve success in a myriad of ways.

    In Sport and the British World, Erik Nielsen questions traditional interpretations of amateurism and compares the administrative aspects of the concept with its ideological dimensions. Nielson argues strongly, and persuasively, that amateur officials in Australasia pursued activities that challenged classic British conceptions of amateurism, and that amateurs in Australasia were simultaneously more diverse, and more inclusive, than those in either Britain or Canada. This diversity politicised sporting relations with the Empire. Sport and the British World is an exemplar of meticulous archival work and the comparative method. Nielsen presents a new and complex set of arguments around amateurism—a key, and fundamental, concept in the social history of sport. Nielson also makes some profound observations regarding the development of sport in Canada and Australia. He notes, for example, that the primary spectator sports in both nations are indigenous games—ice hockey in Canada and Australian Football in Australia—and that neither sport has a British heritage.

    In Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers, Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson explore the social and cultural relationships between surfers and surfboards across the twentieth century as surfboards become more technical in their design, and as the production of surfboards became increasingly industrialised. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers is an exemplary model of material history. Warren and Gibson build their history on a sophisticated model of political economy that acknowledges the interdependency of politics, economy and culture. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers highlights the crafts of contextualisation and conceptualisation, makes good use of oral sources, and emphasises the importance of time and place in history, by tracing political, economic and cultural relationships across the twentieth century and around the Pacific Ocean. The depth of Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers will inspire readers well beyond the material history of the surfboard.


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  • Maher Cup History

    5 June 2015
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    ASSH members may be interested in Neil Pollock’s Maher Cup website, which explores the social history of rugby league in the southwest slopes and northern Riverina between 1920 and 1971.

    The project’s objective is to improve our understanding of the importance of the Maher Cup and rugby league football generally to the life and history of twelve towns of the NSW south west slopes and northern Riverina – Tumut, Gundagai, Cootamundra, Harden-Murrumburrah, Young, Junee, Temora, Barmedman, West Wyalong, Cowra, Grenfell and Boorowa – between 1920 and 1971.

    The Maher Cup was simply different from other rugby league competitions. It permeated deep into the psyche of the citizens of these towns. The events around it were dramatic, the passions deep; it was about much more than football. Match attendances frequently exceeded the population of the home towns. Pioneering the professionalism of Rugby League, local businessman enticed internationals to play and coach, bringing quality entertainment to small places. This Cup persisted long after other challenge cups folded.

    Most of the “literature” to date focuses on the drama of the Cup: the violence of players and crowds, the interminable protests, bribery, playing in snow or dust, the Cup being stolen, locked up for its safety and so on. This site wants to break from the hyperbole of the tabloids and develop a more nuanced approach, focused on answering the simple question –  “why was the Maher Cup such a phenomenon?”

    The site currently includes, for the first time anywhere, team lists and scorers for the 727 matches played and information about more than 3000 players. Thirty articles about the Cup have been developed so far, as well as a rapidly growing picture gallery and some contributor stories. Neil is currently developing biographies, focusing not on the big-name imports but on local stalwarts.

    The site seeks to blend sports history, social history and family history to ensure that the Cup and the memories of those days in these towns is not only preserved but promoted, both to the aged who still remember and to those too young to experience the glory days of local rugby league.

    The website now includes:

    • A list of all 727 Maher Cup matches played with hypertext links from individual matches to any available online information about that match
    • Team lists for those 727 matches – along with scorers.  These lists are more than 97% complete and account for more than 99% of men who have participated in the Maher Cup
    • An alphabetical list of over 3,300 players with the years they participated in the Maher Cup.

    The main focus for the next few months will be on improving the quality and completeness of the above information on players and developing short biographies.

    All assistance, advice, interest and information is warmly appreciated. Email Neil directly if you are interested in helping out or have information to share.

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  • 17th Tom Brock Lecture 2015

    5 June 2015
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    The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Ross McMullin will deliver the XVIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: Retrieving Ted Larkin (1880–1915): Outstanding footballer, acclaimed organizer, original Anzac

    Date: Wednesday 16th September 2015
    Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
    Venue: 99 York Street Club, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000


    Rugby league in its earliest years displayed clear potential, but success proved elusive until a capable administrator, Ted Larkin, was handed the reins in 1909 when he became the league’s first full-time secretary. Larkin is little known today, but it was under his leadership that rugby league advanced from the unpropitious plight it was in when he took over and rapidly became the most popular winter sport in Sydney and beyond.

    The 2015 Tom Brock lecture will analyse the vital role of Ted Larkin. It will illuminate how he came to be in charge of rugby league; evaluate how and why he made it successful; underline how strenuously the rugby league officials tried to retain him even after he moved into another sphere with a spectacular triumph;
    and outline what happened to him afterwards — a sequence of events that stirred profound emotion among those familiar with the circumstances.


    Dr Ross McMullin is a historian and biographer whose main interests are Australian history, politics and sport. His book Pompey Elliott won awards for biography and literature. Another biography, Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius, was commended by the judges of the National Biography Award. He also wrote the commissioned ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill, and another political history So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government.

    His latest book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation, is a multi-biography of ten exceptional Australians who died in World War I. Among them is Ted Larkin, who played a significant role in the early years of Rugby League. Farewell, Dear People has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the National Cultural Award.

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  • Latest Issue of Sporting Traditions

    15 December 2014
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    The most recent issue of Sporting Traditions is about to be released. The second issue of Volume 31 has papers on Sport and National Identity in Zaire as well as American Fans of Australian Rules Football, and a further paper questions where there is racism endemic in the latter’s code. Finally, two papers discuss soccer in Perth – one prior World War I, whilst the other looks at working class youth’s relationship with the beautiful game.

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  • Call for Papers

    14 December 2014
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    The Call for Papers for the XX Sporting Traditions Conference in Darwin, from 30 June to 3 July 2015 has now been made. Abstracts and proposals for sessions are due by 1 May 2015. Visit the Conference page for more details and to register online.

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  • Memberships Update

    13 December 2014
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    Dear ASSH members,

    This is a reminder that membership subscriptions for 2015 are now due. Because of Treasurer, Matthew Klugman being overseas all year on a study and research tour and an ageing ASSH website the sending of renewal notices for 2014 was a bit haphazard; regrettably, many of you may not have received one. If indeed you did not receive a reminder for 2014 you might like to add that payment to your 2015 renewal. If you are uncertain as to your current membership status please contact Bruce Coe, Membership and Claims Officer at coebb@bigpond.net.au for an update.

    You will notice on the registration form that at this stage payment can only be made by cheque. In the past, we have offered the ability to pay using a credit card authorisation but this mode of payment has proved to be cumbersome and rather unsatisfactory. A new online mode of payment is in development and this will be available on the new and improved ASSH website which is anticipated to go live before Christmas. Thank you to Tara Magdalinski for setting all this in train. I will advise you by email as soon as the website is available for use.

    Yours sincerely,

    Murray Phillips

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  • ASSH Executive 2013-2015

    3 July 2013
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    The ASSH AGM and Election was held during the Sporting Traditions Conference on 3 July 2013 at the University of Canberra, ACT, Australia. The new Executive was elected, and the positions are as follows:

    President: Murray Phillips
    Secretary: Rebecca Olive
    Treasurer: Matthew Klugmann

    General Members:
    Douglas Booth
    Tara Magdalinski
    Gary Osmond
    Murray Phillips
    Matthew Stephen

    We congratulate all the elected members, old and new, and look forward to a productive cycle of the Society.

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