Our Work

Harder Than Football

Harder Than Football



What we did

Concept development, copywriting, editing, design, print management, sales and distribution

The Challenge

Harder Than Football is a comprehensive list of all players from the Victorian Football League who served their country in war. Gathered over seven years by curator and football historian Barbara Cullen, the task to put the information in an accessible form was daunting. We created mocks and models that not only put the information in shape, but made it a proud commemoration of this wonderful service. Once developed, the concept was developed with the AFL, and we provided publishing services to produce a wonderful book, one that will commemorate the almost 2500 players for posterity—in print and digital formats.


The Process

SMG joined forces with Barbara Cullen, who had the formidable task of identifying which of the 8000-plus men who had played League football between 1897 and 1972 had also performed military service for Australia. Barbara consulted war service records, some of which are now more than 100 years old, and conducted interviews with former players and their families to provide an overview of each man’s football and service history. As happens with such data driven concepts, the information changed regularly—almost to the final day of production. The editing process was meticulous, the outcome a book of more than 600 pages, produced on time and on budget.


The Outcome

Harder Than Football is a one of a kind publication that serves as a rich piece of VFL/AFL history, and is also a cross-section of the culture of our country during times of conflict. Players are representative of our community; they have ranged from labourers and clerks to teachers to surgeons and barristers, they have been ranked from Privates to Major Generals and everything in between. Most importantly they were loved sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and even grandparents whose service had a lasting effect upon their families. Harder Than Football serves as a reminder of the history of our country at war, and the contribution made by those who played our game.