Cullin – La – RingoArchie Mac |
Author: Perrin, Les
Publisher: Les Perrin
Rating: 4 stars
The full title of this book is Cullin – La – Ringo The Triumph and Tragedy of Tommy Wills.
Wills is most famously remembered as the man most responsible for the creation of Australian Rules Football. After he famously wrote a letter to the press calling ‘for a game of our own’ (although these words were not used in his initial letter to Bell’s Life), he was also involved in the drawing up of the original laws of the game.
A leading player for Geelong, it would be interesting to contemplate how different the game we now know would have been had Wills proposal, that an eight foot high cross bar be fitted to the goal posts to make scoring more difficult, been adopted, as it was, the proposal was narrowly defeated.
The book itself is almost as much a biography of Tom’s father Horatio Wills, one of the great early pioneers of Australia. The story of his bravery and fortitude in settling parts of the new continent make for stirring patriotic reading.
A self made God fearing man, Horatio was in a position to send his eldest son off to ‘the old country’ to be educated at the famous Rugby school which was immortalised in Tom Arnold’s classic Tom Brown’s School Days.
Unfortunately Wills was a failure academically and the hopes of his family that he would become a lawyer were soon dashed. He did however excel at sport especially cricket and Rugby (with only a passing resemblance to the game we now know as Rugby Union), and came back to a heroes welcome, and was soon dominating cricket in Melbourne.
In 1861 (Tom was born in 1835) his father and Tom undertook the huge trek from Victoria to Queensland to the new property Horatio had purchased, Cullin-la-Ringo, Horatio was hoping to establish the property and then hand it over to his three sons, with Tom to eventually manage the property.
While Tom rode to Rockhampton to collect supplies Horatio and eighteen others were massacred by Aborigines, the largest such massacre of white people in Australia’s history. Unfortunately hundreds of Aborigines were in turned killed in acts of revenge.
It quickly transpired that Tom was not suited for the role of manager and he soon returned to Melbourne, where he continued to dominate inter colonial cricket, it was often reported that Wills was fond of a drink and eventually this combined with the tragedy of the massacre led to Tom Wills committing suicide.
I have never before read such a comprehensive coverage of Tom Wills last days, and like the rest of this publication it makes for interesting reading.
A great read this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.