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Celebrating soccer: A historic publishing Achievement

03 November 23

Celebrating soccer: A historic publishing Achievement, By Lynne Clay

The massive crowds, the talent of the competitors and the inspired run of the Matildas that united a nation during the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup shone a blazing spotlight on the sport of football (soccer) in this country.

How timely then, after many years of painstaking research, was the release of Australian Soccer – From the Beginning by award-winning AAP journalist Ted Simmons, OAM during this epic international event.

Well-known in masonic circles as Past Deputy Grand Master and the former Editor of Freemason magazine, the author is also a former athlete, sports administrator, coach, official and referee who was still officiating junior soccer games into his seventies. In addi­tion to his Order of Australia Medal (OAM) he has been honoured with the Australian Sports Medal (ASM), NSW Government Long Service Medal and Life Membership of various club, state and national sporting organisations.

The much-anticipated launch of Ted’s book was held recently at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, with the choice of venue reflecting the historic theme of the book. The Hotel’s confer­ence rooms are integral features of the heritage-listed building which is now owned and operated by the NSW Masonic Club (originally formed in September 1893 as a Music and Literary Society).

Journalists, media personalities – including broadcasting icon Michael Tomalaris – and officials from the Royal Australian Historical Society, the Australian Sports Foundation, Football NSW and Commonwealth Games NSW were amongst dozens who attended the launch function. Guests also included famed former Matildas Julie Dolan and Trixie Tagg and many of Ted’s friends, family and fellow masons.

The coffee-table format 336-page book chronicles the rise of ‘the beautiful game’ in this country, with names, photos and stories of hundreds of players and officials from every state and territory.

The richly illustrated volume contains a wealth of facts and figures about the evolution of both the men’s and women’s game in Australia, intermingled with insights and anecdotes that readers will find fascinating and entertaining.

Ted describes how the game began in the 1800s – in coal mines, on goldfields, in gentlemen’s clubs and in trailblazing women’s supporter networks – detailing how each state formed clubs, established competitions, struggled for funding, fought with their administrations, experienced success and failure – and grew into the extraordinarily popular sport for men and women that soccer is in Australia today.

While researching the history of the men’s game dating to 1880 was relatively simple, he found a disappointing lack of information about women’s football.

‘There are many books and lots of information about men’s players and coaches, but hardly anything about the women,’ he said. ‘The more reluctance I faced searching for information about the history of women’s soccer in Australia, the more determined I became.

‘I even found match details and images tucked away in forgotten boxes in old storage sheds at various state and regional federations. But once word got out, information from women’s clubs and officials started coming from everywhere.’

As a result, the book is illustrated with a vast array of vintage images and memorabilia which bring to life the origins of the game.

It also details ‘the unbelievable bias against women in their efforts to play’ including a ban on games at official Football Association pitches because of the old-world belief women should not play sport.

Also in attendance at the book’s launch, Pip Butler from PB Publishing said she was motivated to take on publication in Australian sport’. ‘I have never seen anything like this level of detail before – while there are many books on men’s soccer, and books that cover some aspects of the women’s game, there is nothing like the all-en­compassing approach Ted applied to his manuscript,’ Butler said.

For a glimpse of the book’s content, or to order a copy, visit the book’s website below!

You can purchase your own copy of Australian soccer – from the beginning from the publisher via the book’s website: (RRP $45 + postage and packaging).

Praise for Ted’s book

The book has been lauded by players and officials including former Matildas and Socceroos, and the Swiss-based International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), of which Ted is now an Honorary Member, following 25 years on its Executive Committee.

‘Until now we’ve had to go to Wikipedia for the jigsaw version of Australia’s football history. Now we’ve got the factual, passion­ate, lived and loved version. If I want to have a conversation about who we are – this’ll be my go to. Thanks Ted.’

– Paul Wade OAM -Former Socceroos captain

‘The book covers the game at state as well as national level. it is particularly strong on women’s contribution to the game in Australia. There are many illus­trations, some seen here for the first time since their initial publication.’

– James Johnson - CEO Football Australia

‘It is a meticulously researched book by renowned soccer advocate and historian Ted Simmons and as Ted writes: “The century ended with Australian women’s soccer participating in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The sport had travelled a long way from the days when women wore sandshoes for a social kick and giggle in a park.’

– Julie Dolan AM  - FA Hall of Fame, Matildas Cap No. 1

‘Ted has delved deep into the core of the essence of those who have made such a substantial contribution to the game here.’

– Rale Rasic OAM - Socceroos Coach, FA Hall of Fame


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