Australia's football origins revealed in 'The Game That Never Happened'

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Ian Syson has delved deep into the rich and complicated history of football in Australia

At a time where Australian football is desperately looking at how to forge a brighter future, Ian Syson's book 'The Game That Never Happened' provides a necessary and enlightening look back at the real origins of the round ball game Down Under.

Much like how the National Soccer League is often pushed to one side, football's history in Australia has been so badly neglected that its exact origins are far more difficult to unearth than they should be.

Syson however, hasn't shied away from getting his hands dirty and dug deep into the roots to put forward an insightful retelling of where football really began and how it came to be in Australia.

As an English colony, Syson retraces how the round ball inevitably arrived in Australia but how the sport itself failed to take off as the nation had to wait for Association Football to take shape.

From those very early days that have all but been forgotten, football then found itself struggling for a foothold as the newly-formed Australian rules and traditional rugby tapped into the country's desire for a more culturally unique form of competition.

With football existing on the fringes, Syson explores the negative perception the game quickly garnered in Australia with many now century-old criticisms continuing to be repeated even today. 

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The emergence of Australian rules played a big part in football's early struggles with the relationship between the two sports notably frosty from the outset. 

Syson goes on to reveal a large reason behind Australia's 'vanishing' football history lies in World War I with a particularly eye-opening chapter on how the sport, despite being regularly played by soldiers, struggled considerably in the aftermath.

Though just over 150 pages in length, 'The Game That Never Happened' is overflowing in deep research into Australia's true football history and for local fans of the round ball game is a must read as the game looks to learn from the mistakes of the past and grow going forward. 

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