7 le­gends of Gympie sport

The Gympie Times - - FRONT PAGE -

SPORTS men and women have ex­celled in this re­gion, but per­haps none quite as suc­cess­fully as the le­gends pro­filed on

P43. And there is a mov­ing trib­ute to the great Jimmy Geiger from the lo­cal cricket fra­ter­nity on

THE Gympie re­gion abounds in nat­u­ral sport­ing ta­lent, and has pro­duced more than its fair share of sport­ing le­gends over the past cen­tury.

Here is our list of the seven le­gends of Gympie sport.

1. CRICKET LEG­END JIM GEIGER

TRAG­I­CALLY, we lost Mr Geiger on Thurs­day.

He was the stal­wart of Gympie cricket for more than 60 years and with­out him, cricket in Gympie would not be where it is.

Mr Geiger was keenly in­volved in Gympie cricket from 1946 on­wards, and his ded­i­ca­tion helped the en­tire cricket com­mu­nity.

The found­ing pres­i­dent of Gympie’s Wests Cricket Club, Mr Geiger ac­cu­mu­lated a long list of awards ac­knowl­edg­ing his ser­vices to the sport.

He re­signed as Wests’ pres­i­dent in 2015, but his work with Wests, Gympie, Sun­shine Coast, Wide Bay and Queens­land Cricket has been recog­nised at ev­ery level.

Among his many awards Mr Geiger was awarded an OAM in 2012 for ser­vices to ru­ral cricket and an Aus­tralian medal signed by then Prime Min­is­ter John Howard for ser­vices to sport.

His big­gest award was an In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil medal for out­stand­ing ser­vices to cricket in 2009.

He said his most vivid mem­ory was the day he made 259 runs not out on the Widgee Oval in 1957.

Mr Geiger’s in­nings in­cluded eight fours in one over – back then overs were eight de­liv­er­ies, not six – and a 217-run part­ner­ship with his 15-year-old son.

“I would have made 300 if I hadn’t run out of part­ners,” he said.

He went on to make 1004 runs that sum­mer. You will al­ways be a leg­end, Jimmy. Rest in peace.

2. HORSE RAC­ING LEG­END BARRY FITZHENRY

HIS name is syn­ony­mous with Gympie rac­ing.

Fitzhenry’s pas­sion, love and knowl­edge of the sport is ob­vi­ous in his weekly col­umn in The Gympie Times called Turf Top­ics, which he first be­gan writ­ing in Fe­bru­ary 1968.

Rac­ing fans are in­formed through the col­umn of the con­tentious is­sues fac­ing the Queens­land rac­ing in­dus­try, along with re­sults of the var­i­ous cups held around the state, through his ex­pert opin­ion.

Fitzhenry also breaks down the fields for ev­ery lo­cal race meet and pro­duces a form guide to en­sure those want­ing to have a punt can hope­fully back a win­ner. His tips are leg­endary.

From race caller to pres­i­dent and trea­surer, Fitzhenry has done any­thing with the Gympie Turf Club and is the heart of the club.

“He al­ways has the best in­ter­ests of the Turf Club at heart,” club pres­i­dent Shane Gill said.

“If there is any­thing that needs to be done, Barry just gets in there and does it. Lit­tle jobs that you don’t re­alise that need to done, Barry just does it.”

Fitzhenry and his fa­ther were prom­i­nent horse own­ers and have had many win­ners over the years. You’re a leg­end Barry.

3. WOOD CHOP­PING LEG­END VIC SUM­MERS

AR­GUABLY Gympie’s great­est ever ath­lete, the late Vic Sum­mers was never as fa­mous as he de­served to be.

A world wood chop cham­pion eight times in a row, he would have made it 14 if the Sec­ond World War had not taken six years of his prime.

In 2012, Mr Sum­mers stumped up the Gympie Show wood­chop event and lined up with the rest of the ax­e­men - he was 93 years old.

He be­gan cut­ting tim­ber at the age of 14, ring-bark­ing up to1700 trees a day. With his fa­ther and two broth­ers, Mr Sum­mers lived mainly on damper and corned beef and was paid one shilling a day for his labour.

His skills with an axe made him a cham­pion from 1947 to 1961 at the Coffs Har­bour Show and many other show and com­pe­ti­tions.

Mr Sum­mers once won a com­pe­ti­tion af­ter drop­ping his stand­ing board from the top of the tree.

He climbed down, re­trieved the board and con­tin­ued cut­ting his way down the tree to vic­tory.

Even af­ter re­tir­ing from com­pet­i­tive chop­ping five times, Mr Sum­mers couldn’t keep away from the sport.

He came last in the scor­ing at the Gympie Show in 2012, but that wasn’t the point.

Mr Sum­mers died in 2015 at the age of 96, but not be­fore he’d taken up what he said was an eas­ier wood sport, saw­ing. A true blue leg­end and one of the strong­est, tough­est men ever born.

4. HORSE RID­ING LEG­END GLEN BOSS

THE Aus­tralian jockey best known for rid­ing Makybe Diva to vic­tory in three con­sec­u­tive Mel­bourne Cups - 2003, 2004 and 2005 - is a Gympie leg­end.

The Ca­bool­ture born star was taken to the Gympie races as a 15-year-old by his grand­par­ents and left school a week later to be­come an ap­pren­tice jockey in Gympie.

While in Gympie, Boss won 60 races in less than 10 months, which prompted a move to the Gold Coast. He is still work­ing as a jockey in Aus­tralia to­day.

Makybe Diva was the sec­ond win­ner to carry 58kg or more since her three vic­to­ries since 1972.

The Bri­tish born mare failed to at­tract a bid at auc­tion and was brought to Aus­tralia by owner Tony San­tic.

Dur­ing her suc­cess Makybe Diva achieved $14.5 mil­lion in prize money and won 15 of her 36 races.

5. CRICKET LEG­END MAR­GARET MCIN­TOSH

MISS McIn­tosh smashed the glass ceil­ing in the Gympie re­gion for women’s cricket back in the day.

A Widgee lass from the well-known McIn­tosh fam­ily, she was 19 years old when she was se­lected in the Queens­land cricket team which she went on to cap­tain.

Af­ter a bril­liant per­for­mance in the test against ri­vals New Zea­land, Miss McIn­tosh gained a Bris­bane news­pa­per award for the best coun­try all-rounder.

It was a per­fect de­but in 1946; Miss McIn­tosh fin­ished her bowl­ing on 7/35 against the Ki­wis.

She was an ex­cel­lent fielder and her bat­ting and bowl­ing fig­ures in the Queens­land v New Zea­land match were a shade bet­ter than her team mates.

Miss McIn­tosh rep­re­sented her state on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions and won se­lec­tion in the Aus­tralian women’s team in 1947 to 1949.

The ta­lent and pas­sion for the game ran through the whole fam­ily. with her fa­ther and broth­ers also well known crick­eters.

6. BOX­ING LEG­END ARCHIE BRADLEY

KNOWN as the ‘Gympie Whirl­wind’ and ‘Gympie Tor­nado’, Archie Bradley knocked the Gold City into records.

Mr Bradley was train­ing in the back yard of a Gympie bar­ber shop and he would go on to not only put Gympie on the Aus­tralian sport­ing stage, but change the face of box­ing as a whole.

He was born in Wick­ham St, Gympie, on Jan­uary 4, 1897.

In Septem­ber 1917, he had his first pro­fes­sional fight against Joe Healy at the The­atre Royal in Gympie.

Af­ter 15 rounds, the fight was awarded to Healy, which was be­lieved to be a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion.

Mr Bradley went on to win 14 fights in Gympie be­fore trav­el­ling to Bris­bane in 1918, when he was 21-years-old, to fur­ther his ca­reer.

In an eight-month pe­riod in Bris­bane he had seven wins in seven bouts.

He went up against box­ers such as “Smil­ing Ge­orgie” Malouf, Roy Hay­ward, Bert Se­combe and Jimmy Hill.

He was even able to knock out the fa­mous Ed­die Lynch in nine rounds of fight­ing.

From 1922-1924 he was the Aus­tralian Wel­ter­weight Cham­pion.

In the 1920s his stamina and ath­letic abil­ity as both a boxer and rugby league player be­came leg­endary.

Af­ter his re­tire­ment from box­ing, Mr Bradley bred grey­hounds for rac­ing.

He was one of the first ath­letes of his era to ac­tively shun al­co­hol and to­bacco in pur­suit of his pugilis­tic dream.

As a boxer, he was ahead of his time and most def­i­nitely de­serves leg­endary sta­tus.

7. RUGBY UNION LEG­END DAN CROW­LEY

GYMPIE’S own Wal­laby, Dan Crow­ley played 38 games with the Aus­tralian rugby union team and earned more than 100 caps with the Queens­land Reds dur­ing his ca­reer.

The for­mer Gympie po­lice of­fi­cer was trans­ferred to the Chan­non St sta­tion in 1985 and played with the Gympie Rain­bows league side and as a front rower, and hooked with Gympie’s rugby union team. He went on to marry a Gympie girl.

Crow­ley made his de­but in Wal­laby Gold in the first test against the tour­ing Bri­tish Li­ons in Bris­bane in 1989.

He played in three World Cups in 1991, 1995 and 1999, qual­i­fy­ing him for mem­ber­ship of a unique in­ter­na­tional rugby club.

In 2003, Crow­ley made his de­but as a mem­ber of the Seven Net­work’s rugby com­men­tary team and was widely praised for his in­sight­ful, an­a­lyt­i­cal and some­times hu­mor­ous com­ments through­out the sea­son, cul­mi­nat­ing in its Rugby World Cup cov­er­age.

He was a mem­ber of Seven’s com­men­tary team again in 2005 along­side for­mer Wal­la­bies team mate Tim Ho­ran. That year he was named by a panel of rugby jour­nal­ists and com­men­ta­tors as part of the ‘Wal­la­bies Team of the Decade’.

He has also worked reg­u­larly on ra­dio 4BC in Bris­bane.

Pho­tos: Craig Warhurst and Con­tributed. Pho­tos: Con­tributed and Ge­off Pot­ter.

THE GREATS: Widgee’s Mar­garet McIn­tosh (right) broke the glass ceil­ing for women in sport. Gympie cricket leg­end Jim Geiger (top) and boxer Archie Bradley (be­low). ICONS: Gympie wood chop­per Vic Sum­mers (left), rac­ing leg­end Baryy Fitzhenry (cen­tre) and Gympie’s own Aus­tralian Wal­laby Dan Crow­ley (right).

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