Australian Football World Tour

The Australian Football World Tour was a series of international rules football matches, organised by football sports broadcaster and former VFL umpire Harry Beitzel and Irish born Melburnian, James Harkin in 1967 and 1968.[1]

First tourEdit

The first team was christened "The Galahs" by the Melbourne press after a comment made by the eccentric athletics coach Percy Cerutty, having seen their garish blazers, their slouch hats, and their hats' ostentatious plumes[2] (deliberately chosen by Beitzel to evoke comparisons with the heroes of the Australian Light Horse Regiments in the Boer War and World War I[3]) and to the effect that they were "a pack of galahs". The name stuck.[3]

The games were played under the rules of Gaelic football with the single exception that the Australian players were not compelled to "toe" the ball from foot to hand every few yards, and they were allowed to bounce the ball.

First tour's itineraryEdit

Their matches, opponents, and scores were as follows:

  • Tuesday, 24 October 1967: The Galahs began their trip with an exhibition match of Australian rules against a Northern Territory Football League representative side in Darwin. Played in sweltering conditions in front of a crowd of 4,000 spectators at Gardens Oval, the Galahs defeated the NTFL by 69 points, 18.15 (123) to 7.12 (54), with Royce Hart booting seven goals.
  • Saturday, 28 October 1967: Civil Service, a Dublin club team, preliminary warm-up match. The Galahs won by two points.[4]
  • Sunday, 29 October 1967: The 1967 All-Ireland Senior Football Champions Meath, the first touring match, played at Croke Park, and won by The Galahs 3-16 (25) to 1-10 (13) in front of 23,149 people.[5]
  • Tuesday, 31 October 1967: Exhibition match of Australian Rules Football, conducted in heavy rain, under lights, at London's Crystal Palace between "Australia" and "Britain". The Britain team was composed mainly of expatriates, plus several of The Galahs (including Alex Jesaulenko). Australia beat Britain 101 to 75.
  • Saturday, 4 November: Mayo, the 1967 Connacht Senior Football Championship winners, played at Croke Park (incidentally the first time Gaelic football was played on a Saturday afternoon at the venue), and won by The Galahs 2-12 (18) to 2-5 (11) in front of an attendance of 20,121.[5]
  • Sunday, 5 November: New York, played at Gaelic Park, New York City. The Galahs lost the match 4-8 (20) to 0-5 (5), the visitors not managing a score after half time.[5] Hassa Mann, king-hit behind the play, had his jaw broken in three places. Ron Barassi had his nose broken by a giant New York narcotics detective (Brendan Tumulty), who broke his own thumb in the process of hitting Barassi.[6]

1967 touring partyEdit

Second tourEdit

In 1968, a second representative team, consisting of elite players from the Victorian Football League, South Australian National Football League, West Australian Football League and the Victorian Football Association, was undefeated in the series, playing against Gaelic football teams at Wembley Stadium and Croke Park. Dublin, Meath, Kerry and New York were among the opponents. The Galahs also played exhibition matches of Australian Rules Football throughout the tour, including a game in Bucharest, Romania.

1968 touring partyEdit


  1. ^ "History of International Rules Football". Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  2. ^ A photograph of Bob Skilton, in full regalia appeared on the front cover of the Victorian Football League's March 1968 issue of Football Life magazine (a thumbnail of the cover appears at Ross (1996), p.238).
  3. ^ Burke, 1998, p.12
  4. ^ Jim Stynes' father, Brian, played in this match for the Civil Service team. (Burke, 1998, p.12)
  5. ^ a b c Corry, Eoghan (2010). The History of Gaelic Football: The Definitive History of Gaelic Football from 1873. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 9780717163694. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. ^ Burke, 1998, p.15. Burke does not supply the match's final score except to say that the New York Irish were in front 11-5 at half-time, and that the Galahs were unable to add to their half-time score. For more on Barassi's injury and his later friendship with Brendan Tumulty, see [1]
  7. ^ Taken from Burke (1998), p.10.
  8. ^ Peter Body won the Sydney Football League's best and fairest award, known as the Phelan Medal, in 1967.[2] Archived 2011-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Dean replaced Neville Crowe in the touring party, after Crowe had been injured in a practice game on the eve of the team's departure.
  10. ^ Rundle, N., "250 Up to Caulfield Veteran", The Amateur Footballer, (Saturday, 30 July 1977), p.9.


  • Burke, P., "Harry and the Galahs: Remembering the Meeting of Two Football Codes Thirty Years On", Australian Society for Sports History Bulletin, Vol. 29, (1998), pp. 9–17.[6]
  • Ross, J. (ed), 100 Years of Australian Football 1897-1996: The Complete Story of the AFL, All the Big Stories, All the Great Pictures, All the Champions, Every AFL Season Reported, Viking, (Ringwood), 1996. ISBN 0-670-86814-0

External linksEdit