FAREWELL TO AN AUSTRALIAN LEGEND
“MY UNCLE HAD TAKEN ME OUT ON A BOARD WHEN I WAS SIX AND I HAD NEVER FORGOTTEN IT, I’D NEVER FORGOTTEN THE WAVE, I’D NEVER FORGOTTEN THE DAY AND I’D NEVER FORGOTTEN HOW I FELT, BECAUSE IT SCARED ME SO MUCH, BUT IT EXCITED ME SO MUCH THAT IT WAS INDELIBLY ETCHED. I WAS ABSORBED BY THE WHOLE THING AND I WAS STEPPING INTO A WORLD THAT WAS GOING TO BE MINE.”
ustralian surfing wouldn’t be what it is today without Midget Farrelly. It wouldn’t be as powerful a force as it is, and it wouldn’t mean as much as it does to all of us, without his contributions. He was the first to show us that Aussies could be world beaters, which had a lasting influence on generations to follow, and he did it without arrogance and chest beating. From what I know of him, he was dedicated, groundbreaking and humble – characteristics I’ve always celebrated in other people and aspired to have myself.
Midget was the first real surf star we ever had, right when surfing was a booming part of teen culture. He was 19, had a World Title in his back pocket, was on TV, had his own newspaper column and was basically a huge celebrity. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. I get people asking for a selfie sometimes when I’m eating a burger but there are hundreds of surfers copping that. Back then it was only him and there was no precedent at all. He must have woke up some days thinking he was in the Twilight Zone. Although we shared the same initials, and the same hairdo when we were groms, we never shared the same room. I never met Midget. Maybe he was starting to shun the public events right when I was coming through. I regret missing him though because over the years I’ve had so many fantastic opportunities to rub shoulders with the elders of our sport and talk to them about surfing, and they’re always so stoked. Midget’s passing reminds us to make the most of every chance we have to connect with these legends because they have seen the best and the worst of surfing and they sure do have some wisdom to share on the direction we’re all headed. Haha! I’m all ears. How about you?
Another comparison I’ve heard in the past week is to do with our commitment to achieving the best out of our surfing. I can totally relate to that. I’ve always thought if you’re gonna bother to do something you have a passion for and really enjoy, then why not do it right? Setting that precedent amplifies my enjoyment in the water and I reckon it might have been the same in that way for Midget.
When Midget passed away his daughter Lucy contacted me and said that when he was in hospital a couple of days ago, he was looking to my surfing as a source of inspiration to get back in the water… and get back on shortboards! That pretty much floored me. I felt really humbled that he saw something in my surfing that made him think he had more to do with his. I was grateful that his daughter shared that with me because it also inspired me. To think that one day I’ll be in my 60s or 70s and still looking at ways to improve and get more fun out of my next surf… it really stokes me out.
Thanks for everything Midget. You showed us all the way.
Previous spread: Midget by Albe Falzon