From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy


Well, it’s not often that such a phrase graces this column but it seems appropriate this week. Just what has the House of Lords got to do with the photo above of our iconic Harwood grandstand which highlights this column each week. To look at it, it would seem they would have nothing in common. But they do. While poles apart in geography and clientele there is a connection.

Here it is. Many of the peers in that austere Westminster building on the Thames played cricket. In fact, the late Ted Dexter captained England when I was beginning to take a keen interest in the sport. I have a schoolboy memory of reading about this ‘debonair’ gentleman who was good looking and such an accomplished sportsman generally. Readers may not know this, but Ted Dexter only missed out on qualifying for the British Open because he missed a put on the 18th green in a qualifying event.

Ted Dexter died last week and will be remembered fondly, but he was very aristocratic in his style and way of communicating which didn’t always sit well with Yorkshire types like Fred Truman. That was the British class system of the day.

In his heyday he was captain of his county side Sussex and in fact played over 60 tests for his country.

Of course, every article about his death always referred to him as ‘Lord Ted’ but to most of the guys in the grandstand here (appropriately distanced of course) there is only one Lord Ted and that is the great Ted Goodwin. He was christened this way by one of the St. George committee men and it stuck. This Ted may not have been debonair, but he certainly had flair.

Who can forget his sensational try in the 1977 grand final when he chipped ahead and when the dead ball line appeared he had to dive on the ball instantly, so he threw caution the wind and essentially landed on his head knocking himself out? It was a great try and it resulted in a tied match with Parramatta but unlike today’s HIA rules, Ted could come out to play the following week and win the grand final replay. He actually went on to play for Australia that same year with the Kangaroos tour.

He went over to WA eventually and helped develop the game there.  I met him in the early ’90s when he brought a schoolboy side over to play in the Confraternity Shield a Qld schools carnival. We made him and the team honorary Queenslanders for a week. His son played in that team and in fact three of his four sons went on to play in the NRL.

Finally, to another Lord who played cricket and captained his nation. Ian Botham (Baron Botham of Ravensworth to be precise) has recently been announced as a trade envoy for the British government. After their withdrawal from the European market, they need to cement trade deals and who better than ‘Beefy’ when it comes to our meat exports.