While we are not celebrating our traditional Marn Grook at the SCG on Friday night it is important to reflect on the significance of the occasion.

The match annually honours the Indigenous roots of Australian football and recognises the enduring contribution of Indigenous players to the game.

Sydney and Essendon originally contested for the Marn Grook trophy and the honour is awarded to the winner of the Swans’ Sir Doug Nicholls Round match every season.

The Swans have won the trophy on 12 occasions since its inception in 2002, and they last took it out with a win over Carlton in Marn Grook at the SCG in Round 11, 2018.

Marn Grook is the name given to a traditional game played during a corroboree of the Djawurrung and Jardwadjali clans in Victoria’s Western District.

It is believed this game was one of the inspirations behind Australian rules football as it’s known today.


The traditional game was played with a ball made from possum skin, about the size of an orange, filled with pounded charcoal and/or grass.

It was bound into a hard ball with kangaroo sinews and kicked and tossed by two opposing teams of up to 50 players each.

The meaning of Marn Grook translates to 'game ball' and it is believed the founder of Australian rules football, Tom Wills, observed a game of Marn Grook in the 1840s and thought it would be an ideal way for Australian cricketers to keep fit during winter.

Swans great Adam Goodes wrote of the special connection between Marn Grook and Australian rules football in Geoff Slattery's The Australian Game of Football.

“I believe Marn Grook played a role in the development of Australian Football,” Goodes wrote.


“I do know we were playing a similar game for the joy and excitement of it, before the said founders of the game, Tom Wills and James Thompson and William Hammersley and Thomas Smith came along.

“I don’t know the truth, but I believe in the connection. Because I know that when Aboriginal people play Australian Football with a clear mind and total focus, we are born to play it.”

Goodes and fellow Swans champion Michael O'Loughlin are regularly honoured at Marn Grook at the SCG on Friday with the player usually judged best afield awarded the Goodes-O'Loughlin Medal.

The Goodes-O'Loughlin Medal features the blue and red colours of the Swans’ originally designed Indigenous guernsey, created by Goodes' mum Lisa Sansbury.

While we won't be playing our annual Marn Grook at the SCG clash tonight we encourage everyone to join in our online celebrations.