The Galahs - groundbreakers
A footy journey. A sporting odyssey. The Galahs is a documentary feature telling the story of a group of Victorian AFL (VFL) stars, in 1967, jetting off to challenge the All-Ireland champions, County Meath, at their own game.
The players were, and are, household names - Barassi, Skilton, Jesaulenko, Davis, Hart, Nicholls, Mann, Dugdale, Fraser. Most didn’t own passports. Most had barely been out of Victoria.
Ex umpire and media juggernaut Harry Beitzel was the man who made it happen. He mortgaged his house. He organised the opponent. He flew his team of champions on a milk run to Darwin, Hong Kong, Paris, Dublin, London, New York and beyond to plant the seed of international competition. It was pioneering stuff — it was Beitzel’s courage and imagination that led to the formalised international rules series of subsequent decades.
Knockers in the press didn’t think it would work.
The tourists were dubbed ‘The Galahs’.
But they played like the champions they were on an action packed world adventure.
The Galahs is a rare feature film that reconnects fans with all time greats of both VFL and GAA football. It’s a wonderful and largely untold story. It’s full of fondly remembered travel anecdotes from young men on their first overseas adventure.
A sold out cinema of more than 300 people watched and cheered The Galahs at the film's exuberant premiere. There was real warmth in the room, for the film and the filmmakers, but especially for the Galahs in attendance. Many great ones showed up - Ron Barassi, Alex Jesaulenko, Hassa Mann, Bob Keddie, Ken Fraser, Barry Davis, Bill Barrot, Paddy Guinane, Roger Dean and Ian Law.
Here are some lovely photos of the occasion (courtesy of Michael Fink):