Dressed in the woollen cap, sweater and tight knee-length trousers worn by rugby football players of the 19th century, this statue has the Neoclassical face of Apollo. Ironic? There’s more.
Our hero stands high upon a plinth overlooking green playing fields, every bit the macho-dandy, but look closely at his screaming hordes. There surrounding our rugger-bugger, like points of a compass, are four bronze cherubs. North to trumpet the kick-off. South to record the score. East invites attention with her naked behind. And, finally, West standing in glorious victory with the lion-skin of Hercules gracing her shoulders.
As if that is not enough, this Florentine sculptor has sprinkled between our cherubs hordes of tiny putti. Cupid was depicted as a putto, and putti were often shown in attendance on immortals.
Immortals! We are talking football here! This is sounding more like a statue fit for Melbourne and its leaping-leeroys.
Taking a broader perspective, we note the bronze lions, standing in attendance, one in each corner of the octogon base. England still protecting her offspring as it takes its first tentative step into nationhood.
This statue was commissioned by Sir Henry Parkes to adorn the Grand Drive in Centennial Park, to please the gentry as they perambulated in their buggys. I wonder if he knew that the Florentine tongue was wedged firmly in said Florentine cheek.
|‘We won’ (aka The Footballer) by Tommaso Sani, 1893|
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