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The Anti-Football League is an Australian organisation that pokes fun at the obsession with Australian Rules Football. It was founded by Melbourne journalist Keith Dunstan in 1967. The chief qualification for membership is not an active dislike but a disinterest in football, a desire to spend one’s time and conversation on other things.

Origins

The "AFL" was created in response to a remark made by journalist Douglas Wilkie in the offices of The Sun News-Pictorial on Sunday 16 April 1967.

On that day, the building was filled with sports writers and ex-footballers – along with their ghost writers – preparing the Monday edition of the football round-up for the weekend. Amongst the relentless discussions pertaining to football, Wilkie, the Sun’s foreign correspondent made a remark to Dunstan that he had had enough. “There must be a better life than this. Couldn’t we start an anti football organisation?” Dunstan’s reply was found the next day in his column, “A Place in the Sun”. In two days Dunstan had received 104 letters from members of the public eager to join.

Dunstan suggested that a badge should be devised, so that League members could recognise each other and intelligent non-football discussion could take place. The badge was to be in the shape of a red cube, symbolic of an object that would not bounce. The firm of K.G. Luke and Company volunteered to make the badges, and by July 1967, 5,600 of them had been sold. Proceeds of the sales were donated to the Berry Street Babies Home (now Berry Street Victoria), and afterwards the MS Society. One of their mottos was "Kick the Footy Habit" The AFL had raised over $200,000 by the 1980s.

Wilkie Award

The Douglas Wilkie Medal is the League's answer to the Australian Rules' Brownlow Medal. Similar to the Brownlow, it is named after a person not many people know much about. Each year the Wilkie Medal honours the person who has done the least for football in the best and fairest manner. Past winners have included former Prime Minister Harold Holtmarker, satirist Barry Humphries (once as himself and once in his Les Patterson comic persona), and Olympic champion Raelene Boyle. The award is presented on Anti-Football day, and the recipient is expected to destroy a football in a unique and creative manner to show their allegiance to the cause. Barry Humphries would later go on to perform in his stage persona Dame Edna Everage during a AFL Grand Final pre match, drawing criticism from the organisation for hypocrisy.

Re-formation

The organisation's website was launched in 2006, giving new impetus to the organisation. In an article in the Australian newspaper, the Herald-Sun, published on May 12, 2007. Dunstan is quoted as declaring "the AFL is back" after a hiatus of 10 years. He cited recent "behaviour" of the players as a reason to start the League again. Along with the league re-forming, the Douglas Wilkie Medal was awarded for the first time since 1994.

In 2008 the organisation announced the Newman Award to be "presented to a footballer who displays the worst off-field performance, in the preceding 12 months." Sam Newman is among those nominated for the inaugural award.. The organisation also holds an Anti Grand Final Day Lunch to celebrate the end of the football season and the return to more civilised pursuits. No mention of football is allowed with the penalty being eviction from the lunch.

Official Website

The Anti-Football League

References

  1. The other AFL (viz., the Australian Football League) was not created until 1990 (42 years later), when the then Victorian Football League decided to changed its name to the Australian Football League.
  2. Keith Dunstan, No Brains At All: An Autobiography, 1990, page 193
  3. The significance of this fact is that the chairman of K.G. Luke Group Industries Ltd was Sir Kenneth George Luke (1896 - 1971), who was not only a former President of the Carlton Football Club, but actually was, in 1967, the President of the Victorian Football League (now known as the Australian Football League). [1]
  4. The Sun News-Pictorial, 13th July, 1967, page 9
  5. AFL website, AFL Conception, Accessed September 22, 2008
  6. AFL website 2008 Newman Award, Accessed September 22, 2008
  7. Carolyn Webb, Pigskin fatigue? Read on, The Age Page 2, September 22, 2008, Accessed September 22, 2008



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