Saturday, 7 June 2014

Dungog

A visit to Sydney was a big risk for Mrs FB.  Particularly since a visit to tour the cricket ground had been pre-arranged.  Talk of cricket was unavoidable.  She would just have to bear it and a tour of the Opera House would compensate.

But for a couple of days she could think she was safe.  She had suggested that she and Fantasy Bob visit an old friend of hers up country during their short visit to Australia.  Her friend is a horse person and lives in a small horse and cattle town in northern NSW. Conversation would surely be dominated by important matters like fetlocks and withers.  She had lost count of the number of times that FB had excitedly pointed out a cricket ground to her as the train made its way through the countryside.   As the train drew into the small station of Dungog, she leaned forward in anticipation. Relief was at hand.

Rush hour traffic in Dungog NSW

FB's worldwide readership will already be ahead of him at this point.  They will recognise that Dungog may well be celebrated for its annual rodeo and for having the first continuously operating enclosed cinema in the whole of Australia - the James Theatre has been in existence for over 100 years.  

But they will know that its more important claim to reknown is as the birthplace of Doug Walters, legendary Australian batsman of the 1960s and 70s.  His name is still revered locally, and in a fitting tradition the pavilion at the local cricket club is named after him.  Talk of fetlocks therefore was abandoned as FB dragged Mrs FB off in search of this hallowed building.



For KD Walters was just about everyone's favourite Australian player throughout his Test career from 1965 to 1981.  In 74 Tests he made 5357 runs at 48.26 - in the words of EW Swanton 'if he ever played a dull innings I never saw it.'   He scored a century in his first Test innings, against England at Brisbane and followed with another century in the next Test.  He rapidly gained a reputation as a man of the people - he seemed carefree, down to earth, a man who liked a beer.  The Australian crowds loved him - so much that the Hill at Sydney Cricket Ground became known as the Doug Walters Stand - a name which stuck until its more recent corporatised redevelopment with  rows  of plastic seats.  It was Walters who became the first batsman to score a double century and a century in the same Test; it was Walters who brought up his century by hitting the last ball of the day from Bob Willis for 6 at the Gabba in 1974; and it was Walters who borrowed a bicycle to pedal round the boundary when he was put at deep third man at each end by Ian Chappell as punishment for oversleeping.

Signed photo in SCG museum -
thanks for your support
Doug Walters
All this and more came to FB's mind as he looked out from the pavilion over the ground where Walters first took up a bat. Maybe just a little of that greatness would rub off on FB.  Perhaps one day the crowds at the Grange Loan headquarters of go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton would rename their famous hill 'The FB Stand.'

The FB Stand....FB's eyes misted over - it has that ring to it, he thought to himself.

'Are you going to stand there all day with that stupid look on your face, or are you coming for lunch?'

His reverie was broken, the mirage of the FB Stand receded.  But the memory of KD Walters still burns bright.

4 comments:

  1. I remember Doug Walters being hailed as the new Bradman when he first appeared on the scene in 1965. Achieving a Test batting average of less than half that of the great man, this might have been an optimistic assessment in hindsight but Walters was undoubtedly one of Australia's best. He even managed a Test bowling average of below 30 and was a useful change bowler who took 49 wickets. Best of all, he played the game in its true spirit. To quote Denis Lillee, " There will never be another like him. I never saw him throw a bat, never heard him talk badly of anyone. He was so cool". All this will be lost on Mrs FB of course - she prefers four legs and Doug Walters only has two.



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    1. FB cannot fault your anatomical knowledge.

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  2. Dougie is a legend in Dungog ! But his Mum was an even greater legend .
    94 not out !

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    1. Many many thanks and best wishes to Mrs W.

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