In last week’s column on Norm Provan I mentioned how I had a copy of that large John O’Grady photo we have christened ‘the Gladiators’. It takes pride of place in my den along with a lot of other sporting memorabilia.
This week, I opened the sports section of the weekend paper to see if the Wallabies game was on free to air TV (it wasn’t by the way Stanley). There in front of me the weekly columnist (Wally Mason) had put together what he considered to be the ten most iconic images of Australians in their chosen sport. They were all sensible selections and I agreed with most but not all. It created quite a discussion in the grandstand.
I don’t see how you could have a collection without Don Bradman who didn’t figure in the final cut. There is one outstanding image in my mind and that is of the great man looking back at his stumps after he had been bowled for a duck in his final innings. We all know he only needed four runs to finish with an average of 100. Not to be.
Two more photos on my wall could have made the cut. One is of Matthew Hayden raising his hands with bat looking like a toothpick after he had claimed the world record score of 380 in a Test innings in Perth in 2003. Sadly, for me that record didn’t last that long, and it was eclipsed within a couple of years by West Indian great Brian Lara. He was a more deserving winner as he had held the record before Matt’s innings and Brian did it against England.
Similarly, I have another framed photo of Aussies against South Africa in 1999. It is called “Paths of Glory” and it includes a copy of the note sent by Steve Waugh to John Eales before they played in the final of the Rugby World Cup. Firstly, it shows all the Australian players in the photo when they orchestrated a run out to take the points in a tied result. The other photo shows Stephen Larkham kicking his first field goal in a test to get us home in extra time. Waugh’s message suggested that the only thing better than beating the Springboks was beating them after scores had been tied. Ouch!
To be fair to Wally, he generally concentrated on the winning efforts, so we had Cathy Freeman in 2000, Alex Jesaulenko’s mark in 1970, John Aloisi in 2005 and Betty Cuthbert in 1956. The Shark, Greg Norman never made it but who can forget that shot of him on his haunches when he had let another golfing major slip through his fingers.
The standout omissions in my mind however are the majestic Makybe Diva winning her third consecutive Melbourne Cup and another football one. If Origin is one of the most watched events in Australia as it is then surely that face-to-face clash in the wet between Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer has to be there.
So, what are your favourites?