The success of the Mullagh Wills Foundation is about the community. Through community activities more people become aware of the incredible story of the Aboriginal Cricket Teams of the 1860s, in particular the 1866 match against the MCC on Boxing Day and the 1868 Tour of England. Importantly the story of the Aboriginal Cricket Team is a reminder of the role sport has played and continues to play in reconciliation.
The Journey to the MCC continues to involve communities. In 2016 a number of community events were held to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 Boxing Day match against the Melbourne Cricket Club and the journey from West Wimmera to Melbourne. In addition sporting clubs in regional Victoria and Melbourne held special ‘Mullagh Wills’ matches during the year.
Borough of Queenscliffe
It was from Queenscliff the Aboriginal Cricket Team left Victoria for the famous Tour of England in 1868, becoming Australia’s first international sporting team. The team left Geelong for Queenscliff for what was described as a fishing trip but was actually the start of the long journey, meeting a boat off Queenscliff and heading to Sydney before leaving for England in February 1867.
The Borough of Queenscliffe commemorated the region’s role with the historic Aboriginal Cricket Team through activities at three local primary schools, the commemorative Message Book being on display during February 2020, an official welcome at a Council Meeting and culminating in a celebration at a Queenscliffe Cricket Club match.
Kirrip Community House in Melton
The Kirrip Aboriginal Community and the City of Melton hosted a special Mullagh Wills day at the Kirrip Aboriginal Community House in Melton in November 2016. The community event was organised to celebrate the Aboriginal Cricket Team of 1866 while the commemorative Message Book was in the Melton community.
Ron Marks, a Cultural Educator from the Barengi Gadjin Land Council provided an entertaining and informative presentation on members of the famous Aboriginal Cricket team. Not surprisingly Ron is a keen cricketer as he is a descendent of a member of the Aboriginal Cricket Team of the 1860s, King Richard or Dick-a-Dick (Traditional Name Djungadjinganook).
Sporting Clubs Along the Journey
The Moyston Willaura Football Netball Club – Saturday June 18, 2016
Mullagh Wills Match Day at the Moyston Willaura v Hawkesdale Macarthur at Moyston was part of the celebration of the Journey to G while the Message Book was in the Rural City of Ararat. Moyston was the childhood home of Tom Wills and the Mullagh Wills trophy was awarded to the club based on aggregate results from all netball and football matches played on the day – Hawkesdale Macarthur.
Apsley Racing Club – Sunday June 12, 2016
The Jimmy Tarpot Cup to commemorate former Apsley resident, Jimmy Tarpot, who was a member of the Aboriginal Cricket team in the 1866 match against the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG. The 100 yards backwards race in honour of Jimmy Tarpot’s 100 yard backward run in 14 seconds on the MCG was a special event as part of the 2016 Apsley Cup.
Buninyong Cricket Club – Sunday November 6 and Saturday November 12, 2016
The Mullagh Wills Cricket Match between Buninyong and Ballan Cricket Clubs at Ballan was part of the celebrations of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s journey to Melbourne in 1866. Initiated by Buninyong, both teams commemorated the 150th Anniversary with all players signing the Message Book.
The Ballan Cricket Club won the Mullagh Wills Trophy and the bragging rights over Buninyong in a tight match at Ballan Recreation Reserve on Saturday. The game was decided in the final over before tea on the second day when Ballan hit the winning runs with one wicket in hand.
Cricket Victoria Indigenous Round at Northcote, Saturday December 10, 2016
Cricket Victoria celebrated the first Indigenous Round in the Premier Cricket competition with a ceremony at Bill Lawry Oval prior to the Northcote home match against St Kilda and the Mullagh Wills Foundation was involved in the celebrations.
Richmond Football Club, Tuesday December 20, 2016
The Richmond Football Club welcomed the Mullagh Wills Foundation and the Message Book to the Punt Road Oval to commemorate the Aboriginal Cricket Team training session at the ground in December 1966 prior to the Boxing Day match against the Melbourne Cricket Club. As well as the players, Richmond CEO Brendan Gale included a message of support in the Message Book.