The community celebrations to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 All Aboriginal Cricket Team, from the West Wimmera Shire through a further ten municipalities, continued at the Punt Road Oval today as part of the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the MCG project.
Foundation Member and former Australian Test Cricketer Mel Jones was joined by Jess Martin and Ben Abbatangelo Indigenous cricketers from Cricket Victoria’s Noogal program and Richmond Indigenous footballer Nathan Drummond and cricket loving teammate Shaun Grigg at the Richmond Football Club (Punt Road Oval) today.
The Aboriginal Cricket Team trained at the Punt Road Oval prior to the Boxing Day match against the MCC in 1866 and the meeting on the ground commemorated the occasion from 150 years ago and provided an opportunity for the athletes to view the message in the Mullagh Wills Foundation Message Book.
Richmond Football Club CEO, Brendan Gale took the opportunity to include a message from the Club:
“The Richmond Football Club acknowledges the role that sport can play in building bridges between cultures. We are proud of the fact that this pioneering Australian cricket team spent time at our iconic home, Put Rd Oval in 1866, prior to embarking on their historic journey.”
Mel Jones took time out from her busy cricket commentating schedule to be at Punt Road Oval and was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the Foundation with the three Indigenous athletes and the cricket loving Grigg who grew up in Ballarat which has been involved in the Journey to the MCG.
“The Foundation is about the involvement of communities and recognising the incredible achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team 150 years ago, as well as helping to bring communities together and we have been delighted by the involvement and support of all the communities along the way,” said Mel
“Our motto is; ‘reconciliation through sport’, and we believe this unique story from our history, particularly the involvement of Tom Wills as the original coach of the team, is a powerful example of recognition and reconciliation,” added Mel.
On Boxing Day, at the scar tree in Yarra Park outside the MCG, the Message Book and a traditional Message Stick, will be presented to Wurundjeri Elders by Wotjobaluk Elder Richard Kennedy, a descendent of Dick-a-Dick a member of the 1866 Aboriginal team.