7 legends of Gympie sport
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.
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).