Olympian earned respect
FOR those of us who didn’t know him, Mervyn Crossman was a celebrated Olympian and local sporting identity so highly respected that they named a road after him.
But to those who knew him he was so much more than that. He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, mentor, and hero. He was a devoted family man with a sweet tooth for chocolate who was mad about sports.
Mervyn Richard Crossman was born on April 7, 1935 in Home Hill. He was the eldest son of Richard and Alice Crossman, and brother to Jeffrey ( deceased), Gary, Greg, and Carol. When Merv was two years old his family made the move north to Townsville where he later attended Railway Estate Primary School.
His dad Richard was a taxi driver who met many of the American soldiers stationed in Townsville during World War II. The soldiers would often give Merv sneaky chocolates, and so began his lifelong affinity with the treat.
The Crossmans were a close- knit family. The boys would spend hours playing cricket which often resulted in broken windows. At the age of 12, unbeknown to his father, Merv started playing hockey and quickly started getting selected for representative sides. Sport was a big part of Merv’s life. Apart from cricket he also played basketball, tennis and rugby league. In fact, for a short while he was being paid to play rugby league but in those days the pay wasn’t enough to make it a profession. So Merv made the decision to quit league and focus on his bigger passion for hockey.
The move paid off and Merv was selected to compete in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. It was a dream that he was able to achieve through a lot of hard work and motivation, all while holding down a full- time job and training without any of the help modern- day athletes receive.
He was proud to represent his country on the world stage. Unfortunately the team didn’t return home with a medal but Merv had a second chance at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and won bronze.
Merv married the love of his life Ronda in 1961. Shortly after their first child Robyn arrived, followed by Marcia.
Even after he stopped playing hockey, Merv stayed heavily involved with the sport as a coach, umpire and selector.
His status as an Olympian and the respect he earned in the local sporting community saw him achieve another of his life’s proudest moments when he had Mervyn Crossman Drive named after him in 1971.
At the time he joked that that’s usually the kind of honour reserved for those who have passed.
Later in life Merv discovered a new sport to excel at when he started playing lawn bowls.
Over the years he won numerous major competitions and even had a stint as president of the Cutheringa Bowls Club.
Mervyn Richard Crossman passed away on June 20, 2017.
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