• 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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  • 2013 ASSH Book Award Winners

    2 July 2013
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    Congratulations to Charlotte MacDonald (University of Victoria Wellington) and Murray Phillips (University of Queensland) whose books have won this year’s ASSH awards.

    Charlotte’s Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960 (Bridget Williams Books) is the winner of the ASSH Book Award. The judges described Strong, Beautiful and Modern as a well-researched and theoretically informed social history of physicality and government policy in the “white” British empire in the mid-twentieth century.

    Murray’s Representing the Sporting Past in Museums and Halls of Fame (Routledge), is the winner of the ASSH Anthology Award. The judges called Representing the Sporting Past in Museums and Halls of Fame a valuable addition to the emerging theme of sporting representations in public history and heritage.

    The Society highly recommends both books to historians interested in the social and cultural history of sport.

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  • Introducing H-SPORT LISTSERVE

    2 November 2012
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    Dear ASSH Members,
    Please allow me to introduce H-Sport. H-Sport is an academic listserve for the interdisciplinary field of sport studies. H-Sport enables scholars around the world who are engaged in the historical, socio-cultural, and philosophical study of sport, physical education, and physical activity to discuss research and teaching interests, conferences and symposia, current issues, sources of funding, publishing, new data and collections, and other areas of interest to scholars. In addition, the H-Sport also publishes Conference Reports from smaller, thematic sport conferences as well as a Journal Watch, a bibliography of sport articles published in journals (both sport and non-sport) from the previous quarter.

    H-Sport is part of a larger humanities and social sciences network called H-Net. One of the benefits of being part of H-Net is that announcements can be submitted to the wider H-Net community,  which includes over 100,000 people from more than 90 countries on 100+ lists that are part of H-Net.

    We hope if you are not already a member of H-Sport that you will subscribe to the list. You can subscribe to H-Sport by going here:

    If you are concerned with receiving too many emails, please note that individual subscriptions to H-Sport can be set to receive one email per day with all of that day’s messages.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at H-Sport@H-NET.MSU.EDU

    Heather Dichter
    ISHPES Council Member and Webmaster

  • Tom Brock Scholarship 2012: Call for Applications

    7 October 2011
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    The Tom Brock Bequest Committee was established by the Australian Society for Sports History to promote research and writing on the history of Rugby League, with a major focus on the South Sydney district. One of the Committee’s functions is the award of an annual scholarship intended to assist early career researchers.

    The scholarship will be awarded to assist in the completion of a relevant project in the field of history or a related humanities or social science discipline, preferably related to:

    • The social history of rugby league in Australia, OR
    • The history of the relationship of rugby league to other sports in Australia

    For more information and details on how to apply, please click here. The closing date for applications is 4 November 2011.

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