Murray Bird has spent more than a decade of his life piecing together the history of Australian rules football in Queensland.
Now, with the release of his book ‘Athenians and Red Invincibles: The Origins of Queensland Football,’ you can share the journey with him.
For the first time in its history of over 150 years, the rise of Australian rules football in Queensland in the 19th century has been documented.
Bird takes us through the journey of how Queensland football progressed from a single team in 1866, to a structured competition.
“One footy club formed in 1866, they used to play amongst themselves and play other groups of people. By the early 1880’s there was 50 clubs amongst Queensland that were all Aussie rules clubs,” Bird said.
Bird took the anecdotes and snippets of Queensland football by Col Hoy’s diaries, and explored them deeper. Through suggestion by his academic supervisor, the project was born.
“I had heard and read that Col Hoy diaries way back, so I went to the library, started reading stuff and found out they actually did play in the nineteenth century. He was right about a lot of things, and it rolled from there,” he said.
“I was working at AFL Queensland, and I started thinking about doing a team of the century hall of fame. At the same time I was doing my masters, and my academics advisor said why don’t you do a masters dissertation on the history of management of the sport.”
He spent hundreds of hour’s trawling through the State Library of Queensland to produce the first book of its kind.
“It’s a bit of jigsaw really, trying to piece together little snippets of information, and trying to collaborate them and make sure it’s got some academic rigor; making sure that you’ve got the facts right,” he said.
There is a wealth of knowledge in the book, but one of the most interesting parts came out of Ipswich, a heartland for Queensland football.
“In 1889 the Ipswich Rugby team won the state premiership and the Ipswich Australian Rules team won the premiership. At the end of the season the Aussie rules players challenged the rugby team to a game of rugby, and they beat them,” Bird said.
“Ipswich was a strong hold for the code from the 1880’s.”
The book is a must read for any Queensland footy fan, and it wont be the last we hear from Bird, who will work with Greg Parker from Queensland Footy Forensics to produce a book on the 150 year history of Queensland footy.