Last weekend we saw the NRL post a photo of partners, and rivals on the field, Vanessa Foliaki and Karina Brown kissing after their State of Origin game on Friday night. While Brown is the captain of the Queensland women’s State of Origin side, Foliaki plays as a lock for NSW, who won the game. According to reports, ‘the two have been together since 2014 and were snapped kissing after the inaugural women’s game at North Sydney Oval.’
In that spirit, we thought we should dive back into the records and see what kissing moments have been covered by our footy media.
Given we’re in the midst of the World Cup, where better to start than with a soccer kiss (if you’ll forgive the detour into other football codes!). On Wednesday January 8, 1958, The Cumberland Argus (published out of Parramatta) reported – under the headline ‘Husky, Big Footballers Kiss Too Much’ – that ‘Sir Stanley Rous, secretary of the British Football Association, said Soccer players should quit kissing each other in public. “I don’t like to see footballers hugging and kissing a colleague who scores a goal,”’ he said. Apparently, according to Rous, ‘These ideas have crept into Soccer since we began to play Continental teams and we have copied to some extent some of their emotional style of expression. That is not the British method.’ (p. 14)
Quite the trifecta of racism, xenophobia, and homophobia from Sir Stanley!
But kisses have long been celebrated in the AFL realm. From The Herald’s publication of Melbourne ruckman Denis Cordner kissing Lynette, his one year old daughter, goodbye before he headed from Melbourne to Perth for the State of Origin games between Victoria and West Australia and then South Australia, in late June/early July 1951 (The Herald, June 27, 1951, p. 1), to their noting of ‘Little Leigh Fox’ – Hawthorn team mascot – kissing his cousin Joan Collier, at the Tramway football, while they both wore Hawthorn colours (The Herald, July 25, 1934, p. 4) kissing moments have circulated widely.
And then of course we find the politicians linking football and kissing. On Friday 26 August 1949, Arthur Calwell decided to bestow a kiss on the forehead of the supposed 100,000 British immigrant since the beginning of Australia’s postwar immigration scheme, the 6 year old Isobel Saxelby. Isobel was the recipient of ‘a large sleeping doll and a toy koala’ (apparently, ‘a piece of tartan ribbon tied a piece of white heath – a reminder of Scotland – to the doll, and the koala held a bunch of Australian wattle’) as well as Calwell’s words and lips – ‘You are symbolic of all the migrants who came before you, and of those who will come after you… I give you congratulations and a kiss’ (‘on the forehead’, noted The Age, although they failed to note how Isobel felt about all this!). But her brother Roger, aged 7, ‘received a toy kangaroo from Mr. Calwell and an Australian football and a book of rules from the national secretary of the Australian National Football Council (Mr. Percy Page)’ (The Age, August 26, 1949, p. 2).
More recently, Bob Murphy has gotten in on the act too, in 2017 outlining his ‘Top 5: Footballing kisses’. And then of course there’s the perennial favourite of players – and fans – kissing the premiership cup.
As all these examples seem to remind us, a kiss is never just a kiss! From Giants kissing to Hawks and Swans having a peck, kissing always contains a message. Although, those of us who attend matches where they use the appalling kiss cam would probably all agree that sometimes less kissing is more.