Australia’s first Aboriginal cricket team is an amazing piece of unsung Australian history and Matt Scullion’s latest single and video, ‘1868’, tells the story of these 13 pioneers. They travelled to England on Australia’s first organised sporting tour, playing 47 matches against English teams between May and October of 1868. ‘I was first told the story by cricketing legend Len Pascoe and was amazed that I’d never heard the story before,’ says Scullion, ‘and as I hung the phone up, I knew that I had to write a song about their experiences.’
Richard Kennedy is the great-great-grandson of Yangendyinanyuk (Dick-a-Dick), who travelled to England as part of the team. He says, ‘It’s great to hear the first song about such an important part of Australia’s untold history and its recognition of our ancestors for their achievements.’ It’s a sentiment shared by Cricket Australia, who describe the song as ‘an incredible way to share and celebrate the journey of the 1868 Aboriginal XI cricket team – a backbone of Australian cricket. The story is one of strength, resilience and triumph in a time of hardship and struggle. Matt has threaded this story beautifully into a great song we can all sing to share the story far and wide.’
The single was recorded at Sound Hole Studio by award-winning producer Shane Nicholson, who Scullion has worked with many times, including on his chart-topping 2019 album Aussie As. Due to COVID restrictions, the video was shot and produced by Scullion and his wife Sharon, which he describes as ‘a wonderful learning experience and one we’ll be doing a lot more of.’ They wanted to travel to Victoria – specifically Jardwadajali, Wotjaboluky and Gunditjmara Country, where the cricketers came from – but were forced to film in NSW because of border closures. ‘We chose Glen Elgin as the backdrop because of its similarities,’ he says, ‘and though it’s not the same, we hope we did the beautiful Victorian landscape justice.’
The video also tells the story of the cricket team using original photos and newspaper clippings. These pictures were supplied by Josie Sangster from Victoria’s Harrow Discovery Centre, which dedicates its floor space to Johnny Mullagh, who is one of the main characters in the song, and the 1868 tour in general. Harrow was also where the video’s sunrise and sunset footage was shot, courtesy of Mark Rabich.
Scullion has a long history of telling Australian stories and is excited and humbled to tell this one. He’s been described as ‘an incredibly talented songwriter’ by 8-time Golden Guitar winner Adam Harvey, who also says ‘his passion for his country and telling the stories of Australia are once again displayed in 1868 – simply brilliant.’ Kevin Bennett, who has won five Golden Guitars, also describes Matt as ‘one of our best storytellers.’ He continues, ‘1868 is a testament to his dedication to the craft of songwriting and telling real Australian stories. Long may he run.’
Scullion will be live streaming an ‘1868’ single launch on Friday 6 November, which will feature on the big screen in front of the Harrow Discovery Centre, home to Australia’s First Aboriginal Cricket Team. With Cricket Australia firmly behind ‘1868’ and hoping to explore opportunities for Scullion to perform the song in front of cricket fans post COVID, its message and the single is destined to do justice to an incredible Australian story. Keep an ear out this summer as Scullion proudly shares their story far and wide.
20th Nov – Mt Royal Bush Camp – Callicoma Hill, NSW
21 Nov – Barrington Steps Bush Camp – Barrington Tops, NSW
19th Dec – 31st Jan – Mogo Zoo Great Camping Adventures Campfire Show – Mogo, NSW