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If anyone is qualified to talk about sport in Australia, it’s David Hill. In this book, with the benefit of his years of personal experience both playing and working in the sporting world, he vividly narrates its rise in Australia since the end of the nineteenth century, from the first cricket tour of England in 1868 by an Australian team – an Aboriginal team – to our earliest successes at the Olympics in 1896, when Edwin Flack was the only Australian competitor and won two gold medals, to the golden age of the 1950s when Australia ruled the world in tennis, swimming and athletics. In this book David also recalls his battles as president of the North Sydney Bears with tobacco sponsorship lobby groups; his coup as managing director of the ABC in buying the broadcast rights for the AFL; his gargantuan efforts to clean up soccer as chairman of Soccer Australia. And he takes us through the shift in sport from the relative innocence of the amateur era to its commercialisation, which, through the years, has undoubtedly contributed to the uglier sides of our national obsession- the corruption, the drugs, the sexism and racism. Have we plunged to a nadir in recent times, or are these characteristics of our sporting nation an inevitable and permanent effect of the need to succeed? This book is a riveting, personal take on a subject that so many Australians follow fanatically – a must-read for sports lovers, but also a compelling, revealing account for those who have never quite understood the appeal of our national obsession.
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