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Since the Miners versus Market Gardeners ‘Celestial football match’ on the Victorian goldfields in 1892, Chinese-Australians have embraced Australian Rules football and been among its most enthusiastic followers.
In Celestial Footy, Patrick Skene chronicles the participation and passion of Chinese-heritage immigrants and their descendants in Australia’s beloved national game. Celebrating the pioneers, such as Wally Koochew and Les Kew Ming, to the modern-day champions Les Fong, Ling Jong and Darcy Vescio, the book draws on independent interviews and archival researched conducted by the author to shine a spotlight on the broad range of characters who have excelled in Australian Rules football and passed on their love of the game through the generations.
More than a sports book, Celestial Footy is a unique, timely and important addition to Australia’s sporting history, as well as that of the broader Chinese-Australian narrative of assimilation, struggle, identity and community. It reveals a hidden chapter in Australia’s archives with significant contemporary relevance, and tells the powerful story of the Chinese-Australian men and women who overcame obstacles and adversity to play the game they loved.