Surfing World - - Con­tents - Tom Car­roll, 2x World Cham­pion

Iloved the way Midget viewed surf­ing, the art of surf­ing, the act of surf­ing. I loved tap­ping into what he had to say. I loved his opin­ions and his elo­quence. I loved ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion I had the good for­tune to share with him.

A Pic­to­rial His­tory of Surf­ing was a book by Paul Ham­lin. It was quite a thick book, and it was pic­to­rial so it was a re­ally good for me be­cause I wasn’t a big reader like my brother, haha! But that book was my bi­ble. I’d just pour over it again and again. It had pic­tures of Midget in there, at the World’s down in Manly, with Mike Doyle and all the crew that came over from the US. I stud­ied those pic­tures of Midget, him walk­ing the nose and see­ing how the wa­ter moved off his board. Stuff like that made a big im­pact on me, and also the fact he had num­ber one on his sin­glet.

The cool thing about Midget was one of the most awe­some pic­tures later down the track that hit me, there was a pic­ture taken of him in 1967 on the North Shore. He was wear­ing a grey jump­suit and he had a Mo­hawk. When I saw that I thought, “Man I’m one of him! He’s one of me!” Give me a jump­suit and a Mo­hawk any day. That guy was on fire! It was only about three weeks ago I got to sit with him up at Palmy and talk to him about what he’d been go­ing through re­cently. I en­quired be­cause I was re­cov­er­ing from knee surgery so the topic of the body nat­u­rally came up. We sat there for a while and chat­ted and he was very open and hon­est with me. It was a heavy re­minder to get your­self checked as you get older, like re­ally check the body out and get the doc­tor to re­ally have a good scan of the body. If they got this sort of thing early, they pos­si­bly might have been a lot more suc­cess­ful. Seventy-one is too young for him and his fam­ily.

He was a dead­set frother, there’s no doubt about it, and he saw surf­ing ex­plode from some­thing very small to com­pletely main­stream. Surf­ing was so pop­u­lar when he was at his peak. The beach was a pop cul­ture fad right when he was the Champ. He was as big time as it gets. Imag­ine the ego cop­ing with that!

Midget’s sis­ter was a bal­le­rina. She in­flu­enced his style on a board. The way he del­i­cately walked the plank, walked the nose and was able to cross feet and in crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions, he cred­its his sis­ter for that. When he told me I was like “Woah! Bal­let!” It made sense and I wound up do­ing six weeks of bal­let train­ing be­fore I won my first World Ti­tle, as a re­sult. I’ll tell ya what: bal­let is re­ally fuck­ing dif­fi­cult! It’s one of the most bru­tally hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ences the ego-cen­tric mind of a bud­ding World Cham­pion can put him­self through.

Midget was a to­tal trail­blazer, he was a way left field thinker, way out­side the square and he loved it so that’s where he went. Soon as you were talk­ing to him, he’d sort of look at you, he’d have a think and he’d wanna come at you com­pletely from an­other an­gle.

He was so as­tute, and very strong about his views. Midget was a real spe­cial per­son for Aus­tralian surf­ing, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve had some crack­ers but he’s right at the top.

The first Aus­tralian surf star. Midget is swamped by fans in ‘64. How’s that poor grom get­ting shaded by some jerk be­hind him! Wait your turn drongo! (Cour­tesy of Ron Per­rott archives).

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