Review – Kick It To Me

Don’t you just love it when you learn something you didn’t know before? Don’t you love it even more when that something surprises and delights you?

The origins of Australian Rules Football are laid bare in this beautiful book by footy fanatic and author of Side-by-Side (the Collingwood FC story), Neridah McMullen.

Young Tom is feeling blue. The cricket season is over and there’s nothing to do. He drags his feet in the ochre dust, but suddenly he hears singing. It’s his friend Jirra from the Djab Wurrung camp who tries to cheer Tom up with a different kind of ball game. It’s called Marn-grook and . . . it’s truly awesome.

Tom joins in a large group of Indigenous kids who toss, kick, leap and climb each others’ backs in pursuit of that ball. The descriptions of the boys kicking and lobbing that ball in the sunshine are joyful and full of action, and Tom’s face as he gets into the full swing of the game is priceless. You can simply feel his breath being stolen away.

Vibrant, emotive illustrations by Peter Hudson beautifully showcase not only the land but the sunshine and effervescence in the boys’ faces.

A fascinating postscript gives some historical background on young Tom Wills, who once lived near and befriended children of the Djab Wurrung tribe, near the Gariwerd Grampians of Western Victoria. After spending a childhood on the land, Tom was sent to boarding school in Melbourne then onto England where he attended Rugby School and Cambridge.

After returning to Australia in 1856, Tom captained the Victorian colony in cricket, but it wasn’t until 1858 when he sent a letter to a Victorian newspaper explaining the importance of fitness that he suggested football club be formed. “We shall have a game of our own,” he declared – and so this letter changed the course of Australian sporting history.

Aussie Rules was born. Helping develop, champion, officiate and administrate AFL, Tom Wills was certainly a key player in the formation of this glorious Indigenous sport. A priceless story for anyone with a love of history – or anyone with a serious addiction to our great Aussie game.

Kick It To Me is published by One Day Hill.


Author, Neridah McMullin aspires to write stories that matter; some are little known, some are long forgotten, but all are created to capture and inspire a child’s imagination.

Neridah’s new book, Side by Side – In the Beginning is a story of hope and passion – about a young nation finding its feet – about a football club that’s been around for more than 100 years, surviving times of war and depression.

Even those who aren’t supporters of the Collingwood Football Club will be fascinated by the history of how Collingwood became the club it is today.

One hundred years ago, football was played on rough, muddy grounds and it wasn’t unusual for a defender and his opponent to sit down on the ground when the play was up the other end or for them to chat with each other and spectators while the game was going on.

For the record, I have never been a Collingwood supporter, but as someone who has a fascination with history, I enjoyed taking a journey back through Collingwood’s past.

Side by Side – In the Beginning was written for 5 to 10 year-olds and according to author, Neridah McMullin,

the concept behind it was to create a book for a parent and a child to share and pour over together.

It’s a work of narrative non-fiction with detailed and fascinating full colour illustrations by Ainsley Walters and photos of players and memorabilia.

The story is set in 1916 during World War 1 and told through the eyes of Charlie who goes to his first football match. Fact is combined seamlessly with fiction as the reader learns about the true history of the club and some of its heroes through the fictional character of Charlie.

Former Collingwood Captain, Nathan Buckley had this to say about Side by Side – In the Beginning.

To read about the Collingwood champions of the past and relive the moments in history that made the club what it is connects us all over again, Whilst looking to the future we can never lose sight of our past.

Side by Side – In the Beginning is the first of a trilogy and Collingwood Football Club’s goal is to preserve folklore stories.

See the Book Trailer at