Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! by Katrina Germein ill Janine Dawson

Aussie Rules is awesome.
I always arrive on time.
Out on the boundary Bailey warms up.
He takes a bounce and boots the ball; a banana kick bends to me.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!’ begins with the arrival of players at an AFL football game, continues through the game and ends as the game does. Told from the perspective of one of the players, it is also an alphabet book. As the game progresses, so does the alphabet. Every player has a chance to shine, whether it’s taking marks, making a pass, or kicking a goal. The rain may come down, the grass may turn into mud, but nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of these ball players. Illustrations depict a dull and rainy day with umbrella-wielding parents cheering from the sidelines.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!’ celebrates junior AFL football, and all the things it should be about – having fun, having a go, learning teamwork and sliding in the mud. The alphabetic sentences read easily and are full of football-ness. The illustrations are full of extra elements for the reader to find, from the mud following the flight of the ball on the ‘f’ page to the child eating under the watchful eye of a magpie on the ‘v’ page. A broad range of cultures and body types are represented, as is the child who lives, eats, breathes and sleeps football. Recommended for early-schoolers.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!, Katrina Germein ill Janine Dawson
Ford Street Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925272673

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Game of Their Lives, by Nick Richardson

While the match was, at one level, an exhibition for the Diggers and the curious onlookers, for the players it was something else – a chance to run around in the open air, to play the game they loved and test themselves in the way that they knew, body on body, running, jumping and kicking. It was a wonderful antidote to the dull routine of training and the anxiety of anticipation about what was ahead.

Australian Rules Football has a long history here at home, but has often been an enigma to people in other countries. For one day in 1916, though, football took centre stage when two teams of Australian soldiers played an exhibition match in London. The teams, drawn from soldiers waiting to be called to the Western Front, comprised men who had played football in teams across Australia, some of them big name players. In the weeks leading up to the match they trained hard and, on the day, for just a few hours, they could play the game they loved almost as if they were back home in Australia.

The Game of Their Lives tells the story of the game, and of the men who played in it. Starting before the war, and tracing through to the years following, readers are introduced to the players, umpires and officials as well as to men who made the game possible, including General Monash and YMCA man, and Australian swimmer, Frank Beaurepair. There is also close exploration of the impact of the war on sport at home in Australia, particularly the pressure for sportsmen to enlist, and the conscription debate.

For anyone with a love of football or war history.

The Game of Their Lives , by Nick Richardson
Pan Macmillan, 2016
ISBN 9781743536667

Kick it to Me, by Neridah McMullin & Peter Hudson

When cricket season ends, Tom is desolate. What will he do with himself with no cricket to play? Luckily, his friend Jirra, from the Djab Wurrung tribe, has an idea.

It shoots off to the right and racing after it, they’re jostling and laughing and pushing each other trying to be the first to pick up the ball.

When cricket season ends, Tom is desolate. What will he do with himself with no cricket to play? Luckily, his friend Jirra, from the Djab Wurrung tribe, has an idea. Jirra will teach him to play a fun game that he and his friends love to play – Marn-grook. Soon, Tom is happy again as he plays the game of kicking and catching with Jirra and his friends.

Kick it to Me offers the story of the origins of Australian Rules football. Tom Wills, the boy in the story, was a key figure in the development of the sport now known as Australian Rules football, drawing on the game he learned from his Aboriginal friends as a child. The fictionalised story of Tom’s childhood is complemented by back of book notes, as well as a foreword by Collingwood President and television personality Eddie McGuire.

In hard cover picture book format with illustrations by Peter Hudson, this story of the origins of our national sport has been released just in time for the new footy season.

Kick it to Me

Kick it to Me, by Neridah McMullin & Peter Hudson
One Day Hill, 2011
ISBN 9780980794861

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

That's Ambitious, by Dennis Cometti

Harvey, the smallest player in the AFL, has become a marking option. Remarkable! He might be the only guy in the competition whose feet appear in his driver licence photo.

Sporting fans around Australia are regularly treated to the commentary skills of Dennis Cometti. His in depth knowledge and eloquent style make him popular, but it is his way with words which most often draws attention. Cometti-isms – sometimes planned and researched, other times spur of the moment – are casually dropped into his commentary to the delight of fans and, sometimes, the bemusement of his co-commentators.

That’s Ambitious is Cometti’s second collection of his favourite comments and is accompanied by explanations of the context in which each comment was made, as well as black and white photos.

For any Cometti or football fan, this little offering is a delight.

That's Ambitious: More Classic Commentary

That’s Ambitious, by Dennis Cometti
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book is available from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

I Want to be a Footballer, by Sally Carbon

Dream the dream,
live the life,
play the game.

From the day that he plays his first Auskick game Dane loves footy and dreams of one day playing in the AFL. But as he grows up, Danes discovers that becoming a champion will take more than dreaming – there’s a lot of hard word and dedication needed, too.

I Want to be a Footballer follows Dane from that first Auskick Game through to the Under 16s National Schoolboy Championships, as his dream burgeons and gets closer to becoming reality. Alongside the story there are loads of AFL facts, a short history of AFL and plenty more.

Author Sally Carbon has plenty of experience with top level sport. She represented Australia in women’s hockey at Olympic level. Through this book she aims to inspire children to participate in sport .

Suitable for young footy players I Want to Be a Footballer bears the official AFL logo, showing their endorsement of this fine book.

I Want to be a Footballer, by Sally Carbon
FACP, 2007

Shirtfront – a short and amazing history of Aussie Rules, by Paula Hunt

‘In 1886 one train trip from Geelong nearly ended in tragedy when team rivalries got completely out of hand.’ ‘Outside Newport someone dislodged sections of the (train) track in an attempt to crash the trains. Luckily it was discovered in time.’

In 1858, a cricketer called Tom Wills, suggested that Melbourne develop its own football code, as a way of keeping cricketers fit over the winter. The first football game, between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar, comprised 40 players per side and a ground which included gum trees and rocks.

From these humble beginnings grew what is now called Aussie Rules Football. The game grew with Melbourne, feeling with its people the effects of depression and world wars, to become a national competition. Along the way, it spawned tall tales and true, grew into an industry and inspired many children to become players or passionate followers. Many players achieved legend status, their names and deeds living on in conversations and more. Like many sports, Aussie Rules has enriched the English language with terms like ‘collywobbles’, ‘screamer/speckie’, ‘banana kick’ and ‘the G’.

Shirtfront is jam-packed full of statistics and stories about the history of Aussie Rules football and the characters who made it the game it is today. The history of the game is interwoven with the history of Melbourne. It explores state rivalries as well as the particular characteristics which have shaped individual teams. Paula Hunt has gathered a rich collection for the footy fan. Recommended for anyone interested in understanding and learning more about Aussie Rules football. Recommended for upper primary readers and beyond.

Shirtfront, by Paula Hunt
black dog books, 2005
ISBN 1876372664

Still Kicking, by Cheryl Critchley

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

This is part of Lothian’s Sports fiction series, aimed at trying to engage the interest of reluctant readers between 8 and 14year old. However it’s not only suitable for reluctant readers as it contains a good story.

This story revolves around Samantha Scott (Sam) who at thirteen is the only girl in the local Richmond under 14s footy team. Determined to more than hold her own against the boys and the initial scepticism of the sexist Jake Mc Donald, she becomes one of the team’s best players. With help from Muscles and a fitness plan he develops on his computer, she starts to achieve her aim to become ‘the best junior footballer in Melbourne.’

However, not everyone is happy about Sam’s position on the team. Her father constantly tells her football is not something she can make a living at. Therefore, she would be better to concentrate on schoolwork instead of football and study hard like her older sister, Kate, who wants to be a lawyer like their father. Because of her passion for football, Sam also is subjected to torment by Felicity Edwards and her cronies at school.

Both Sam’s friendship with Izzy, Hugo and Muscles and the hassles and torment suffered at the hands of Felicity (Flick) and her friends are realistically portrayed. And anyone who’s ever played junior sport of any kind or stood on the sidelines of junior sport, can relate to the embarrassment felt by Hugo at the behaviour of his father on the sidelines. This embarrassment leads to him dropping out of the team and Sam’s friend Izzy comes in to the team in his place.

The two girls are doing well and everything seems to be going right, as their team heads towards the finals. But then a chance remark threatens to bring all Sam’s hard work undone. For anyone with the remotest interest in AFL, this book will be eagerly read. An AFL fan, though supporter of another team, I read this novel in one sitting. My one negative comment is it might have been good to remember AFL is a national game and Victoria is not the only state involved in Auskick. Assuming the book is to have an impact not only in Victoria; relevant contact information for all states at the back of the novel would have been helpful for those wanting to find out more. Similarly the author’s note which talks about Auskick and the current rules about girls playing could have been less Victorian centred.

Still Kicking, by Cheryl Critchley
Lothian Books, 2006
$14.95 Paperback ISBN 0 7344 0932 X

AFL Footy Fan's Handbook, by Tony Wilson

Do you have a young football fan in your household? If so, this offering from Omnibus, officially endorsed by the AFL, is sure to appeal. Including a brief overview of the history of the game, followed by profiles of each team in the competition an explanation of how the finals series works, and a section of fun and games, this is both informative and entertaining.

Young fans will enjoy learning the lyrics of their club’s song , challenging themselves with any of the several quizzes, or boning up on some Brownlow Medal history. There are also loads of quick facts, and opportunities for kids to record the season’s highlights and more.

Sure to appeal to footy fans aged 7 to 12.

AFL Footy Fan’s Handbook, by Tony Wilson
Omnibus, 2006

Wombat's Footy Heroes, by Harvey Lang and Jason McCartney

After Wombat left, Lukey turned to Hawky and said, ‘I reckon he’d be a great asset. Just wish he could take an overhead mark with his hands.’
’Yeah, but he’s quick and can take them on his chest. We’ll work on it.’
Wombat overheard them. But then again, he had heard it all before. He hoped one day he would find out why he couldn’t quite grab the ball above his head. It had frustrated both him and his coaches for years.

Wombat is a drifter. He moves from town to town, finding work where he can, playing footy and helping people solve their problems, with his special gifts. But he has two problems of his own – a shy stutter, which stops him from getting to know girls, and an inability to take an overhead mark.

Michael is captain of the Finham Under-16s, a popular student who gets good grades. But he is also struggling with two problems – his fears that his parents’ marriage is breaking up, and his clash with the school bully, Jordan.

When Wombat arrives in Finham he builds a friendship with Michael and becomes a key player for the footy club. Perhaps their friendship can solve both of their problems.

Wombat’s Footy Heroes is a story about friendship and sport, and about acceptance. Wombat is a character with the mysterious gift of incredible hearing, which allows him to hear what people are saying him when he is seemingly well out of hearing range, and also to hear what is troubling people. This gift makes him a little odd, and people are initially wary of him, but as they get to know him they discover his warm heart and gentle nature.

This is an interesting read, with plenty of football action for sports-mad youngsters.

Wombat’s Footy Heroes, by Harvey Lang & Jason McCartney
Lothian Books, 2006

Maxx Rumble Football Series

It had been close all day. We were down to the last few minutes. They were in front by 4 points.
I was at full-forward. I’d already booted 2 goals…I mean 6…no, make that 9 goals. The Bullies decided to double-team me. That’s when they put two players onto one.
They sent their two biggest players to take me on.

Maxx Rumble loves sport. He loves everything about it – but most of all, he loves winning. As we follow his season playing for the Stone Valley Saints, there are plenty of wins to be had. But it doesn’t all go Maxx’s way. First he is Crunched!, then he is Slammed! and, in the most important game of the season he is Dogged!

Every book of this delightfully funny series pits Maxx against some challenging opponents. The fast-paced, wickedly humorous text of author Michael Wagner is matched by the comic illustrations of Terry Denton on every page.

Likely to appeal to all kids, these offerings will especially work their magic with reluctant readers, who will relish the short length and accessibility of the stories.

Crunched!, Slammed!, Flattened! ,Smashed! ,Twisted! ,Stretched! ,Winded! and Dogged!
All by Michael Wagner, illustrated by Terry Denton
Black Dog Books, 2004