Letter: Hallowed kick-about

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DESPITE A few minor terminological errors (it's "Scraggers" not "Scraggies", "goal umpire" not "goal judge") Ronald Atkin's report "Oz dogs have their day" (Sport, 11 October) on the Western Bulldogs/St Kilda clash at the Oval was spot-on. St Kilda's charm certainly is "half flash and half red light".

However, there is no evidence that Australian Rules "evolved from Gaelic football". In the years following the first official inter-school match in 1858 the game was developed by two gentlemen called Harrison and Wills. The rules were a distillation of those used in informal matches on Melbourne's parks in the early and mid-19th century, and those experienced by Harrison in England's public school system.

Initially intended as a way for athletes and cricketers to keep fit during winter, the game's qualities made it hugely popular at all levels of society. The formalising of its rules and competition structure is generally regarded as having predated any of the other major football codes.

Incidentally, having lived in Melbourne for 17 years, I cannot remember hearing anyone use the word "sheila" in un-ironic conversation (or "cobber" for that matter).

TERENCE HOGAN

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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