or 150 Years of Failure


The pristine city of Melbourne was founded late by Australian standards. Sydney had been founded in 1778 and Hobart, not long afterwards. Melbourne, at the base of the Australian mainland, was not formed until 1833, but it did not take long for Me1bournians to be heard. The title of Crown City in the new State of Victoria was in doubt through the 1850's. The port of Geelong and the tent city of Ballarat fifty miles inland, for a short while, vied for top city in Victoria. Ballarat's credentials were not hard to find - an old school teacher called Nathan Spielvogul endowed the reasons in verse:


"In' 51 a tale was told

In many a town in Europe old,

Of a new found pasture town with gold

Ho! Ho! Have ye heard of Ballarat?


"Come bid farewell and sail away, Sail

and sail for a hundred day, across the sea to

Hobson's Bay away and away to Ballarat?"


Quoted in C. C. Mullen, History of Australian Football


The gold flooded the fields around Ballarat and a neighboring town called Bendigo. Melbourne was the point on the triangle sixty miles from these two cities and became the focal point for banking and business. It was in this fair city that civilization sprang up in short time.


By 1859, a new game had developed which soon became known as "Australian Rules" and, not surprisingly, two intrepid Irishmen were credited with its beginnings. Principal culprit was Tom Wills - a serious minded entrepreneur, described as dapper and sensitive and called "the man with zingari stripe," which referred to a shirt he wore with distinctive and striped colors. He was educated in England where he played football and cricket and every other game he could. Upon his return to Melbourne with another more fractious and loquacious Irishman named Harrison, he began, a new game.