The Game of Their Lives

As the Great War raged in 1916, two teams of Australian soldiers played an Australian Rules football match in London...
18 Jun 2017
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Library Auditorium

The Game of Their Lives

“…But to those wise enough to recognise it, the message of the war’s impact on sport was clear: the simple joy of kicking a football was about to be challenged by the expectation of young, fit men doing their national duty. Nothing – least of all football – would be the same again.”

Nick Richardson talks to Michael Gleeson about his latest book, The Game of Their Lives. As the Great War reached its brutal new phase in 1916, two teams of Australian soldiers celebrated their shared love of football with an exhibition match before they left England for the Western Front. It would be the last game of football some of them played.

Now, for the first time, here is the story of the men who played in that remarkable game. More than an exhibition match, the game symbolised sport’s role in driving young athletes to enlist and fight. The players came from every corner of the country – some of them stars in the VFL or champions in their city or state leagues. For all of them, it was a chance to forget blood and battle and simply play, a final kick of the footy before the Western Front, from where some would never return.

Now, 100 years on, Nick Richardson rekindles an incredible moment in our history and pays tribute to the men who played The Game of Their Lives. Highly recommended for both lovers of the game and history buffs alike.


“One of the great untold stores of Australian football history…compelling … inspiring and poignant … a must read.” Glenn McFarlane, Herald Sun

“A remarkable book that conveys the Anzac spirt in the most Australian of ways.” Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial

“This book will teach you that the heat of battle in Origin, or the nerves before a grand final at the MCG, are nothing compared to the pressure sportsmen faced to enlist in WWI via the wide-held belief that athletic competition prepared players for war. It’s a superb tribute to the men placed in such a dreadful situation.”Inside Sport

Session proudly supported by the Williamstown Football Club.

Ticket Prices: Full $20 | Conc $17 | Early $15

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