Book on amazing Aussie

THIS space just isn't big enough to fully explain just how interesting Greg de Moore and his book are.

The good news is, however, you can meet him for yourself tomorrow in Grafton.

The story of Dr de Moore's book – Tom Wills: His Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall – began in the late 1990s when the Sydney-based psychiatrist read a small article on an important but little known Australian.

The article was about Tom Wills, the son of convicts, who lived and died in the 1800s.

But what was so important about Tom Wills?

In a nutshell, he was responsible for several remarkable and historic things: he formed the first Aboriginal cricket team (which famously toured England in the 1860s); he invented Aussie Rules football; and he became the first captain of Australia's oldest AFL club, the Melbourne Football Club.

Dr de Moore was so intrigued by this undervalued Australian he began to research his life.

This led the Westmead Hospital-based psychiatrist to undertake a Master's degree in history.

Dr de Moore soon realised, however, that a Master's degree would not do Wills the justice he deserved, and continued on to do a PhD and write the book.

“Tom Wills was without doubt this country's first great cricketer,” he said.

“He was our greatest 19th century sportsman, and I believe our most influential sportsman in the history of this country.

“But it's a book that is about far more than just sport. Sport is almost a side issue.

“It's a story about Australian history and Australian identity.”

Dr de Moore said his book told a brilliant white sportsman who went on to train Aboriginal cricketers just a few years after his father and other family members were massacred at the hands of Queensland Aborigines.

It also tells how Wills suffered from alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder because of his father's murder.

“There are many aspects from a mental health point of view that intrigued me about Tom Wills,” Dr de Moore said.

“As a psychiatrist what drew me into the story was that at the age of 44 Tom Wills committed suicide by stabbing himself.”

Dr de Moore will be speaking at Schaeffer House in Grafton tomorrow at 2pm.

The talk is free.

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