Subtitled ‘A history of AFL/VFL football in the players’ own words’, Champions All is written by a 600-game Australian Rules veteran who ‘spent three years tracking down and sharing stories with the legends of the game’; this polished transcript opus is a gem.
The strength of this book is its manifest abandoning of authorly pretensions on the subject. Matt Zurbo gives full rein to the voice of 171 footy combatants, including one-offs and most of the cream of Aussie Rules’ demi-gods: folks like Barassi, Blight, Skilton, Sheedy etc. Suffice it to say Zurbo’s achievement is preserving the contributors’ take on discipline, violence, heroism, teamwork, rivalries and the lasting anguish of getting caned.
The weakness? You have to love Australian Rules, or sport more broadly, to turn the page. Forget universality of the human condition, the good news for Zurbo is that he has a huge market,