“We Won”, also known as “The Footballer”, was sculptured by the sculptor Tommaso Sani who was well-known in Sydney in the 1880s.
Most of Sani’s work was commissioned as embellishment for public buildings. Most notable of Sani’s work is found in the Pitt Street façade of the General Post Office, Sydney. Sani was known for his naturalistic style and his satirical approach which contrasted with the classical approach of his contemporaries.
Graeme Sturgeon in his book: The Development of Australian Sculpture, 1788-1975 (Thames and Hudson, 1978) describes “We Won” as one of Sani’s most important works. The life-sized figure, dressed in a woollen cap, sweater and tight knee-length trousers worn by football players of the day contrasts with the serene and idealised Neoclassical face of Apollo.
The figure stands upon a cylindrical pedestal which is decorated with high relief panels, the whole standing on a granite base atop a series of steps which are in turn surrounded by a chain held up by eight small seated lions.
The bronze pedestal shows eight scenes of a match in progress, played, not as might be expected by muscular men, but by hordes of tiny putti.
To drive home the satirical point further, the scenes of the match are separated by four large female cherubs, each adding in various ways to the mock dignity of the occasion. The first is enthusiastically trumpeting the beginning of the match, the second recording the score, the next inviting attention of the spectator and the last standing victoriously with the lion-skin of Hercules cast around her head and shoulders.