Matty is rugby-mad and the champion of his local team, the South Sydney Seagulls. He is something of a hero at school because of his football prowess. Matty’s inner-city school has students from a wide range of cultures and they sing the national anthem in Language. Matty’s whole family (except his little sister, Nita) share his passion for football and each weekend is spent watching, playing, celebrating wins or mourning losses of ‘their’ team – the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Nita likes to read her book at matches and is embarrassed by their mother’s over-enthusiastic barracking. They in turn are confused by Nita’s determined vegetarianism unless it’s kangaroo!
Following their semi-final triumph, Matty is expected to be the leading scorer for the Seagulls in the final but he falls from his bicycle during a family ride in Sydney’s Bicentennial Park and breaks his arm putting him out of the match altogether. Sydney’s Bicentennial Park is a place Matty’s mother refuses to visit because to her it signifies a commemoration of Indigenous displacement.
Matty is deeply upset by not being able to play though Nita does her best to cheer him up. With Nita’s help and encouragement Matty thinks he has a way to still be part of the match – commentating the game! However it is Nita’s letter to the manager of the South Junior Football Competition that makes Matty’s dream become a reality.
His joy at this achievement is crowned when he gets home and finds on his bed a framed, signed jersey from the premiership winning South Sydney Rabbitoh team of 2014. This was a prize in the school fundraising that Matty’s family had told him they wouldn’t be able to afford to bid on it. Matty is touched and humbled when he finds so many people have contributed to buying it, especially his little sister who has worked on the sausage stand at football matches in order to help.
The book includes a brief glossary of football terms and a description of the origins of the South Sydney song.
Anita Heiss is a Wiradjuri woman who is a poet, editor, author and social commentator who champions Indigenous writing and literacy.