Francis ‘Fox’ Swift has moved again. His parents’ jobs as social justice lawyers have dragged him away from his beloved Port Pembla Pirates footy team to some country town called Davinal, where they will be working with Sudanese refugees. Fox isn’t even sure that Davinal has a junior footy team for him to join. As it turns out, they have two: the Dragons, well-funded champions, captained by the bully Mace, and the Diggers, a team of no-hopers and rejects. Fox joins the Diggers with his new friends Hugo and Lewis, but even his amazing skills can’t save the team from a string of humiliating losses. Fox isn’t a quitter though, so he resolves to make some changes. He recruits some unexpected new players and a washed-up former local hero as a coach. With a little help from AFL legend Cyril Rioli, can the Diggers turn things around? This is a fun read for upper-primary AFL fans, who will enjoy the underdog story of Fox and his new team. The fast pace, illustrations and humour will also entice reluctant readers. Another real point of difference is the input of real-life AFL star Cyril Rioli, including training drills and even diet tips for young footballers. This is highly recommended for footy fans.
Heath Graham is a teacher and former bookseller. This review first appeared in the Junior Term 2 2013 supplement of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.