The Courier-Mail

CHEERS TO TRUE SHOW OF CLASS

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THE last time Vince Mathers had seen his mate he’d just dropped him with medics af­ter the in­fantry­man had been shot as the pair took heavy ma­chine­gun fire in the Korean War.

Five years later, as he walked through the Ekka, he heard a voice.

“Mathers, ya bas­tard! That’s the bloke who car­ried me out of bloody Korea.”

When Vince looked around, he saw his old mate Ge­orge Graham, grin­ning down at him.

The year was 1955. Four years ear­lier both men had been part of the Third Bat­tal­ion, Royal Aus­tralia Reg­i­ment, fight­ing in the Bat­tle of Maryang San.

With a heavy mist cov­er­ing the rugged ter­rain, both men ad­vanced as for­ward scouts. Then, un­der fierce ma­chine­gun fire, Ge­orge took a bullet in the leg and one in the foot.

“We bloody car­ried him out un­der more ma­chine­gun fire, right down the hill,” Vince says. He gen­tly ribs his mate, smil­ing and tak­ing a sip of beer. “I dunno how he sur­vived.” Now, both aged 88, they make a point of get­ting to­gether at the Ekka and pulling up a stump at the Cat­tle­man’s Bar to share a few ales when­ever they get the op­por­tu­nity. “This guy’s a bloody celebrity!” Vince says.

He smiles, putting an arm around his mate. “We just sit here and see who comes in for a chat. But they all want to talk with Ge­orge.”

It seems some­how fit­ting to find the pair sit­ting propped up at the bar on Peo­ple’s Day at Queens­land’s big­gest coun­try show.

A day when the sto­ries of nor­mal peo­ple who have ac­com­plished in­cred­i­ble feats can be heard whis­pered through the crowds that cram the nar­row al­ley­ways and fill the busy bars.

Yesterday about 55,000 peo­ple filled the RNA grounds, with show or­gan­is­ers herald­ing the turnout a mas­sive suc­cess.

Even as dark storm clouds blan­keted the arena, drop­ping a tor­rent of rain on the crowds, it did lit­tle to dampen spir­its.

Most peo­ple ducked for cover but it was over as quickly as it started, thee dark­ness giv­ing way to blue skies as peo­ple filled ride queues again un­der the af­ter- noon sun.

Later in the af­ter- noon, the sun is dip- ping be­low the e hori­zon.

The grounds are e still full but somee fam­i­lies are start­ingg to leave.

Out on Bowen Bridge Rd a fam­ily are head­ing home. Car­ry­ing show­bags, the chil­dren look happy but tired. They’re shy. Their mother puts an arm around their shoul­ders.

The lit­tle girl buries her head against her for com­fort. Her mind still bustling with im­ages, colours and sounds – the stuff that will set­tle into beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries. It’s the end of another bril­liant Ekka day.

 ??  ?? AC­TION APLENTY: Vince Mathers (left) with Ge­orge Graham at the Cat­tle­man’s Bar; King the cat (be­low left) in the an­i­mal pav­il­ion; and the brief storm that swept over the show­grounds (main).
AC­TION APLENTY: Vince Mathers (left) with Ge­orge Graham at the Cat­tle­man’s Bar; King the cat (be­low left) in the an­i­mal pav­il­ion; and the brief storm that swept over the show­grounds (main).

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