Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Letter to Ben Buckley (remember him)

This is a letter I sent to Ben Buckley in 2010. I sent other versions of the same letter 3 other times to previous and subsequent FFA functionaries. I was seeking acknowledgement, dialogue as well as the possibility of support. I am still waiting for a reply.

Ben Buckley
Chief Executive Officer
Football Federation Australia Limited
Locked Bag A4071
Sydney South NSW 1235

10 February 2010
Re: The Game that Gave its All

Dear Mr Buckley,
I lecture in writing at Victoria University in Melbourne and in 2009 completed a six-month stint as Writer-in-Residence at the FFV in Darebin. I have been and still am involved in the writing projects around the 125 years of football in Victoria.
In the course of my research I have discovered an angle which I believe would be of great benefit to football in Australia were it to be developed and exploited to the full.
While the historical record of football is patchy up until the First World War, it is a noble one of pioneers striving against great odds to introduce the game across Australia. They are bedevilled by war and Depression as well as resentment and resistance from more entrenched codes. Yet they keep on striving. A calamitous disruption to our game was of course the First World War, in which a great many footballers enlisted – to such an extent that the game went into recess across the nation in or around 1916, only to be resumed, fitfully, once hostilities ceased.
There are many personal tragedies involved in this mass enlistment. A great many footballers were never to return. After only brief research it is clear that our game sacrificed much for the ANZAC cause. For example, the Caledonian club in Perth lost eight players. Tiny Irymple lost five of its eleven, one of whom was killed at Gallipoli. The Broken Hill Club lost at least one member. It is a story repeated across Australia and it needs to be uncovered.
There is immense value in documenting all footballers who played in Australia prior to 1916 with the intention of creating a database and analyses that demonstrated the numbers of footballers who enlisted in the war. For example, 230 of the 340 men who had played the game in Adelaide in 1914 had enrolled by 1916. I suspect we would find a story of great sacrifice and commitment to the nation’s development within our game. From the research I will publish a substantial book, the working title of which, The Game that Gave its All underlines the message.
It strikes me that football in Australia has an uncomfortable relationship with its own history. That is understandable. There is much that is unpleasant and embarrassing to be found in our annals. What I suggest is a means of delving into an unquestionably honourable chapter in our history that would have the benefit of demonstrating just how much football is tied to the tragedy of ANZAC. It would lock us in as a vital contributor to what is seen as the single most important moment in the development of our sense of nation.
I believe that once this research is completed and disseminated, the notion that football is some kind of new or foreign or unAustralian game could be done away with for good. With the centenary of ANZAC (2014) looming, the research would be well timed for outcomes in that year.
As an academic researcher I am well placed to do this work. As an ex-player, football supporter and soccer-dad I am committed to promoting and developing what is good about the beautiful game.
I would be happy to follow this up with a discussion should you be happy to talk further.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Ian Syson

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