Braham Dabscheck

The Master by Sean Fagan and Dally Messenger III & The Ballad of Les Darcy by Peter FiztSimons

October 2007, no. 295

Before and soon after Federation, Australia established itself as a sporting nation. Australia enjoyed good weather, with space for play. Despite the hardships of these times, youngsters, especially boys, found time to indulge in a wide range of sports. Two boys in particular, one the son of a boat builder/operator in Sydney, the other an East Maitland farm boy, became legendary figures in their chosen sports. The first was Henry Herbert (‘Dally’) Messenger, an all-round athlete and champion rugby player who turned away from the amateur rugby union and became a professional. Its best player, Messenger was a mainstay of the ‘new’ game, rugby league, in the lead-up to World War I. The second was the boxer Les Darcy, who, fighting mainly as a light heavyweight, won a series of titles in Australia prior to and during the war.

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Shane Warne is one of the greatest bowlers of all time, if not the greatest. Highly competitive and aggressive, he is one of the main factors in Australia’s prolonged dominance in world cricket. He has been involved in a series of controversies, on and off the field. He has been fined for sledging and over-aggressive appealing; and for providing, along with Mark Waugh, information to a bookie (something they both readily admitted, which the Australian Cricket Board tried to cover up). In 2003 he received a one-year ban for taking a banned substance, diuretic tablets, intended, he claimed (and this is not disputed by Barry), to help him lose weight. Off the field, like many leading sporting personalities, he is a serial womaniser

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