Paul Daffey’s 2019 book The Totem Poles of Ouyen United: Travels in Country Footy marks a return to his original reportage days in which he hit the road with a notebook and a pen with the aim of teasing out stories that bring to life the significant part that country footy plays in Australian life.

Daffey takes up an invitation from Mallee footy identity Michael “Boozer” Robertson to go on a tour of the unused ovals around Ouyen. These ovals were the homes of some of the reported 43 clubs that folded into one club, Ouyen United, over the course of several decades.

Every stop on the tour marks a jump-off point for stories that depict the unique nature of footy in the Mallee, the region in Victoria that has been hardest hit by the drift from the land to the cities and towns.

After his trip to the Mallee, Daffey continues on his journey into the soul of country footy with trips to the foot of the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland, to the old gold town of Inglewood, near Bendigo, and to the paddock outside Wedderburn where the mighty Woosang footy club once played.

Daffey sees a dramatic grand final between Mornington Peninsula clubs Pines and Sorrento, which was won with a kick after the siren, and he stands on the balcony at the Horsham City Oval during his exploration of midfielder Brad Hartigan’s unfeasible tally of premierships.

Hartigan’s haul inspired Daffey to assemble a list of country footballers who have  played in six or more senior premierships.

The premiership list is part of the extensive appendices at the back of the book, along with a review of the 2018 season that lists the season details of every league in country Victoria, the Riverina and along the South Australian border.

The appendices also include the result of Daffey’s extensive research into Mallee football, and the premiership teams and AFL/VFL products from every club he covered during his travels in 2018.

Paul Daffey’s 2017 book, Behind the Goals: The History of the Victorian Country Football League, is the most comprehensive book to be written on Australian football in its country heartland.

It tells the story of the VCFL, the ruling body of Victorian country football, from its formation in 1927 to its merger with AFL Victoria in 2016.

Behind the Goals offers insight into the reasons the game means so much to supporters in town and country — in detail that has never been previously been described at this level.

It is the perfect gift for anyone who has ever been a country footy official, or anyone who has an interest in the politics and intrigue of country footy.

Paul Daffey is a journalist and author who has covered country football for thirty years. Since 2016, he has been a co-host on the weekly Country Footy Show on RSN.

The Totem Poles of Ouyen United is available for $30 per book.

Behind the Goals is available for $40 per book.

Other titles are available for $10 per book.

Postage (one, two or three books): $10

0417 160 911


Paul Daffey’s books

Local Rites: A Year in Grass Roots Football in Victoria and Beyond (2001)

Beyond the Big Sticks: Country Football Around Australia (2003)

Behind the Goals: The History of the Victorian Country Football League (2017)

The Totem Poles of Ouyen United: Travels in Country Footy (2019)

Chapters in books

Black and Blue: The Story of Football at the University of Melbourne (2005)

The Barrackers Are Shouting: Stories of Collingwood From the Grandstand (2006)

The Rise and Rise of the Essendon Football Club (2009)


The Footy Almanac: The AFL Season One Game at a Time (2007-2013)

Footy Town: Stories of Australia’s Game (2013)

Athenians and Red Invincibles: The Origins of Queensland Football (2015)