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Sunday Age


Author: Gary Walsh
Date: 24/03/1996
Words: 1481
          Publication: THE SUNDAY AGE
Section: Sportsweek
Page: 31
Getting a leg up on autographs.

IN THESE days of footballers refusing to sign their full names on autographs because it might reduce the market value of their signatures, it's refreshing to zip back to the 1950s, when players were pleased to hear from their fans.

Mary Murphy, a teenage Essendon supporter from Hawthorn, sent a letter to Bomber Bob Shearman in 1957, asking for a photo and an autograph. She was, at the time, particularly enamored of his legs.

When she got the reply, a week later, it was couched in apologetic tones.

``I hope you like the photos I have enclosed. I had been waiting for them to be developed and I only received them yesterday," Shearman wrote.

With the letter were a couple of Box Brownie snaps taken by his landlady in her backyard. Shearman continued: ``I don't agree with you when you say I have thousands of fans. I don't know of any, so it wasn't too hard for me to drag myself away from my fan mail to answer your letter."

We don't like the chances of a fan today receiving a letter in neat copperplate handwriting complete with a pile of specially taken photos, but that's progress.

Murphy had made a bet with a schoolfriend that Shearman would not reply to her letter. As payment, she had to hand over the full-length picture of the player, complete with lusted-after legs.

More devastating was the fact that someone later wrote a shopping list on the back of the letter that came with the photos.

But most upsetting of all, Murphy confesses, was that Shearman quit the Bombers at the age of 21, moved to Adelaide and ``married a model from South Australia who used to pose for underwear ads".

Netballers pool resources.

THE QUIT Garville netball players had returned to their hotel from a match in Townsville. It was around 11 o'clock on a humid night and the swimming pool looked inviting.

Being daredevils and unwilling to trot upstairs to put on their bathers, wing defence Josie Pearce (left) and then manager Judy Uren decided to have a dip in their smalls.

As they disported themselves merrily, their loving colleagues decamped with their clothes. Frolicking done, Pearce and Uren leapt from the pool and discovered their plight. Their undies, at this point, were as transparent as Greg Matthews' lack of acting talent.

According to Netball Australia's official 1996 guide, the two former Girl Guides put their training to good effect. Dibbing and dobbing frantically, Uren found a large tank top, which covered her embarrassment.

Pearce's upper garment had dried sufficiently, but the knickers were a problem.

She disappeared into a toilet and emerged with an innovative tutu made of paper hand towels, in which outfit she walked proudly past the reception desk, waving regally as she went.

Playing a cross bat to language barrier.

THE GOOD old US of A. America the Beautiful. Centre of the Known Universe. Fount of All Knowledge. That Sainted Place Absolutely Bewildered by Cricket.

In the `Washington Post' wrap-up of the World Cup, cricket expert Kenneth J. Cooper explained the arcana of the sport to an attentive readership. And what a promising beginning: ``What to many Americans appears to be a dull, baffling sport vaguely akin to baseball is a serious matter of state in South Asia."

He went on to explain the passion of Pakistani and Indian supporters, and their interesting responses to World Cup defeat, before throwing in the clincher. Cooper noted the comment of Ranjith Perera, Sri Lanka's tourism director, who suggested that worldwide telecast of the championship game might help revive the slumping industry by attracting visitors from ``Singapore, South Africa and other English-speaking countries where cricket is played".

Now, either Cooper or Perera has sprung a mental leak here.

South Africa, we accept, but Singapore? Leaving aside the fact that Mandarin is the country's official language, we haven't noticed many Singaporean willow-wielders or ball-tossers coming through the ranks.

Richard Chee Quee was the best we could come up with at short notice, but, Kenneth J., we're sorry to let you know that he ain't from Singapore.

Taylor's the talk of surveying minds.

AUSTRALIAN cricket skipper Mark Taylor's degree is in surveying from the University of New South Wales. One of his lecturers remembered him as ``a very good student, well above the language".

Taylor no doubt would be delighted that Sabapathy Ganeshan recalled his excellence as a student; less delighted that Ganeshan is Sri Lankan, and mightily delighted himself.

And `The Sydney Morning Herald', devotedly following the surveying trail, reports that Professor John Trinder, head of the school of Geomatic Engineering (which is what they call surveying these days), wonders whether some of Taylor's captaincy skills come from his student days, which included the management of spatial information.

``The correct placement of fieldsmen requires a good spatially- oriented mind," the prof noted.

Staying in tune with the times.

WELCOME to the state election, brought to you by Mike Brady, songster extraordinaire.

You may have noticed the hard-hitting Liberal commercials on the telly are being presented to the stirring tune of `Up There Cazaly'.

This follows the National Party launch, at which salt-of- the-earth Nat MPs were said to be swaying uncomfortably on stage, like corn stalks in a stiff Mallee breeze, to the strains of an inspirational new Brady theme song.

That just leaves the Labor Party (oh, and the Natural Law Party, who will have some hippy New Age ambient music to assist their yogic fliers on their way). Perhaps something left over from Brady's days with MPD Ltd in the '60s - say, `Little Boy Blue'.

Spinner Tufnell's field of dreams.

THE Victorian Cricket Association Centenary program notes the superstitions of some of the world's leading players, as well as spinner Phil Tufnell.

Tuffers, we're told, likes to handle the ball when he's walking on to the field. Understandable, really, as he is highly unlikely to touch the thing when he's in the field.

And Pommy skipper Mike Atherton apparently refuses to eat a curry on the eve of a match . . . for the obvious reason.

We would have thought Atherton, who performed only marginally better than Keith Arthurton in the World Cup, would welcome any chance to get a few runs.

The same VCA publication bravely heads its World Cup review ``Australia on Top of the World". Either they had the story, with its references to our boys as ``the best, most complete cricket team in the world", written before the final, or they don't reckon the match meant much, which would appear a tad contradictory.

A baseballer by any other name.

THERE are sporting names, the very mention of which make one chortle. Like Phil Tufnell. Our newest hero is Wonderful Terrific Monds III, who is trying out for the Atlanta Braves' baseball team as an outfielder.

So how did he get such a name? It goes back to a great-grandfather who had longed for a son and grew increasingly exasperated after 11 daughters.

Finally, Monds' great-grandmother delivered a boy, much to the relief of her husband. ``He was very enthused, very happy," Monds noted. ``He said, `Oh, this is wonderful! This is terrific!' " It became a tradition that the first boy in each generation passed along the name to his first son. He's just lucky great grand-dad didn't exclaim ``About Bloody Time!" at the crucial moment.

It's all happening out there in Moree.

NEVER say die. That's the motto of the Emus team in the Moree under-16s competition in country New South Wales. The flightless birds had scored a mighty 84 with the willow, and opponents Brolgas had equalled the score with three wickets and three overs left.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The Emus' skipper promptly took a hat-trick and tied the game.

In all the nooks and crannies.

THEY lived to tell the tale, but Carlton and North Melbourne players were lucky to escape a rather distasteful and potentially painful fate in their pre-season cup game last weekend.

North midfielder Matthew Armstrong, according to the `Herald Sun', predicted: ``I don't think they'll (sic) be any holes barred." Oooh.

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