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