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Updated: 27/12/2006

Tom Wills

Tom Wills was born on the 19th August 1835 in an area near present day Canberra. At the age of 4 his family moved to Western Victoria and at the age of 10 he was sent to Melbourne to Brickwood's Academy for further schooling. As was common at the time at the age of 14 he was sent by sailing ship to England where he enrolled at The Rugby School in the midlands. During his stay he excelled in sport, particularly at cricket playing at the county level.
He returned to Melbourne in 1856. He soon appeared at the regular cricket training sessions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, just a mile from the streets of the city. Wills quickly became one of Victoria's finest cricketers and for season 1857-58 he became secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club. After that season he moved to Richmond.

Following his letter in Bell's Life he participated in a game played in Richmond Park on the 31st July 1858 and was an umpire in the Scotch College v Melbourne Grammar match starting on the 7th August 1858.

1974 125th Aniversary - Tom Wills
This private cover depicting Tom Wills and the "All-Australian side" cachet is printed on a pre-stamped envelope displaying the Victorian State Floral Emblem, Pink Heath, and cancelled with the 125th Anniversary Commemorative Postmark. (PM 1050)

On the 17th May 1859 Wills chaired a meeting in which the first rules of the game were codified. Three days earlier on the 14th May along with others, he formed the Melbourne Football Club becoming their first captain. It also appears he had much to do with the formation of the Geelong Football Club on 18th July 1859.

For the 1860 season it appears he captained the Richmond Club.

In early 1861 he left Victoria travelling by sea to Brisbane and then overland to Cullinlaringo, a station 250 miles west of Rockhampton on the Tropic of Capricorn. On the 17th October 1861 Aboriginals attacked the camp killing 19 including Horatio Wills, his father. Tom was away on a trip to Brisbane for supplies.

He returned to Victoria in 1864 and played football mainly for Geelong but it appeared that he had little administrative input. His two younger brothers also played for Geelong.

Tommy, as he was affectionately known, developed problems with alcoholism and on the 2nd May 1880 he stabbed himself with a pair of scissors and died latter that afternoon at the age of 44.

First Class Collectables released a Cinderella of Tom Wills in 2006.