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Sport in Australia is a national obsession. In this book David Hill recalls his encounters with the great and the good in Australian sport, as well as some of its darker moments.

If anyone is qualified to talk about sport in Australia, it's David Hill. In this book, with the benefit of his years of personal experience both playing and working in the sporting world, he vividly narrates its rise in Australia since the end of the nineteenth century, from the first cricket tour of England in 1868 by an Australian team – an Aboriginal team – to our earliest successes at the Olympics in 1896, when Edwin Flack was the only Australian competitor and won two gold medals, to the golden age of the 1950s when Australia ruled the world in tennis, swimming and athletics.

In this book David also recalls his battles as president of the North Sydney Bears with tobacco sponsorship lobby groups; his coup as managing director of the ABC in buying the broadcast rights for the AFL; his gargantuan efforts to clean up soccer as chairman of Soccer Australia. And he takes us through the shift in sport from the relative innocence of the amateur era to its commercialisation, which, through the years, has undoubtedly contributed to the uglier sides of our national obsession: the corruption, the drugs, the sexism and racism. Have we plunged to a nadir in recent times, or are these characteristics of our sporting nation an inevitable and permanent effect of the need to succeed?

This book is a riveting, personal take on a subject that so many Australians follow fanatically – a must-read for sports lovers, but also a compelling, revealing account for those who have never quite understood the appeal of our national obsession.

Reviews

A feast of history with dollops of scandal and titbits of insider commentary

Weekend Australian

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780857987570

    July 31, 2017

    William Heinemann Australia

    352 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
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    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780857987594

    July 31, 2017

    Random House Australia

    352 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Extract

In 1983 a potato farmer from Beech Forest in southern Victoria had an ambitious idea. He decided to enter the Sydney–Melbourne ultramarathon – a gruelling 875-kilo­metre event in which he’d be competing against much younger and vastly more qualified competitors, including a number of world ultramarathon record holders.1

Cliff Young was no one’s idea of a model athlete. A skinny, sixty-one-year-old bachelor who had got serious about long-distance running only four years earlier, he lived with his eighty-nine-year-old mother and his brother Sid, and had never married because he was ‘too bashful’ with girls.2 While he was a relative novice at athletics, he was nevertheless pro­digiously fit and thought nothing of jogging to Colac and back in his trademark gumboots – an 80-kilometre round trip – just to get a haircut.

Continue Reading
Article
Playing by Our Rules

David Hill details the beginnings of Australia’s national obsession.

Also by David Hill

Australia and the Monarchy
The Special Relationship
The Making of Australia
The Great Race
The Gold Rush
1788
The Forgotten Children

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