Sports Snippets by Graham Bowden
I arrived in Rabaul in TPNG at the end of 1963 for the 6th E Course. My future wife, Marg, turned up early in 1964, and we married in August of that year. I was posted to Maltech (with George Harrington as principal) in July and became sports master in a sports-based school in December 1964.
Thus I spent most of my spare time involved in team sports during the eight years we were in Rabaul. Our first three children (Malira, Joanne and Fred) were born at Nonga Base Hospital (1967, 68, and 69). In 1966 we had a meeting in Len McKekerin’s COSMO hotel with an aim to start Australian Rules Football.
This did happen.
The main men involved were John Waters and Henry Bodman with Ivan Peterson and myself invited. I was probably there because of my sports master role at Maltech, and thus the availability of the technical facilities of one of TPNG’s top sports schools. I was actually playing rugby (or ‘sniffo for no necks’ as Henry Bodman referred to it) for Waratahs at the time. The first season of Aussie Rules involved no boots as most could not afford them.
In 1967 I was asked to coach the first TPNG village team at Matupit, because there were a couple of Victorians at the tech and Marg and I had begun lessons in Kuanua. The team was the Brown Eagles and we won the knockout comp that year. Also Henry and John managed to persuade Lae and Port Moresby to have a National League formed and have a three-way carnival in Rabaul. This meant that the GANFL held office with Henry as secretary, John treasurer and I was president. I still have the booklet produced with player profiles, etc. in it.
In Rabaul I was playing cricket, hockey, squash and basketball, as well.
The school was also involved in rugby, soccer, baseball and athletics (fifteen of our students represented TPNG or the BSIP in the Port Moresby South Pacific Games). I was approached by Harry Cohen to coach the TPNG Under 9-stone team to go to Australia that year, but felt it was a conflict of interest to do that and to be president of the TPNG Aussie Rules.
Following the big gurias in Rabaul in 1971 I was sent to the Goroka Tech as deputy principal. We were there for ten years and our other two children (Tom and Sam) were born in the Goroka Base Hospital (1975 and 1977). We lived for two years next to the airport on the Highlands Highway—very noisy in the day. I was made principal and moved onto the college grounds.
I became a regional technical division inspector for four years and then back to principal until we left at the end of 1981. Kevin Murphy and I travelled together at this time as he was promoting rugby reague in the Highlands.
Whilst in Goroka I was involved in lawn bowls (we won the national pennant in 1981), horse racing, gumi racing, the Goroka Sports Club, amateur theatrics, the Lions Club—as well as cricket, squash and football (as an umpire and non-playing coach). I even had a round of golf or two. Our kids were mainly into swimming, rugby and horse riding.
Some sports snippets:
• Pat Guest ‘out of uniform’ at the bowls championship. Pat and Bill Guest were part of the group of very talented lawn bowlers in Goroka.
Pat was the national champion several times. And whilst in one of her title matches (I think it was in Port Moresby) it was brought to the notice of the match umpire that her black knickers could be seen through her white dress. A very big ‘out of uniform’ no-no!
The umpire went up to her and pointed out that she would have toorfeit if she did not get rid of them. Pat then calmly shimmied out of the offending items, kicked them onto the bank and continued on her winning way.
• Brian Holloway and the after-training on Matupit Island during the Mataungan standoff—visit to the police club. I was coaching once a week on Matupit Island during the height of the Mataungan troubles, and had to pass through a police blockade at the causeway to get there.
Brian Holloway (the Assistant Police Commissioner at the time) was at the blockade as I crossed. He asked for a lift back to the Police Officers Club when I returned. When we arrived he said he would shout me a beer so we walked in. I had not been there before.
There was a lovely tiled floor with the police crest about five feet across between the tables. Brian lead me to the bar ensuring that I crossed the crest. The dozen or so police there all yelled out as this meant free beers for them all.
• Barry Coulter harassing Hobe (Brian Lynch of the Hobe Plantation out of Goroka) for one of Hobe’s horses. Hobe was always putting him off and stringing him along with promises to think about it. Baz loved the horse and was petting it one time when the horse tossed his head and smashed one of Barry’s teeth. When told of it Hobe said, ‘Don’t complain to me mate, it’s your horse.’
• Ted Sale former Man U player was unable to play on in Australia as he had a £40,000 transfer fee on him. He came up to Maltech as a plumbing instructor. We were sitting on the steps in light rain (it is warm in Rabaul!), having a smoke, looking at about 100 students playing 50-a-side soccer on the Maltech oval. Occasionally, Ted would yell out instructions to players. Anyway, the ball came out of play to us and I said to Ted to show them how it should be done, hoping to see just how good he was.
He took the ball and began dribbling. At those times the students were very tentative about touching teachers in any way. Ted kept calling them to come and tackle him. By the time he reached the half-way mark some of the braver kids started to try to tackle him. Ted had on leather-soled shoes which are very slippery on wet grass, but this did not appear to me to slow him much. The tackling became more intense but in the end he seemed to just walk through them and tapped the ball in to the goal.
‘Well boys, that’s how it is done. Keep practising!’ And he came back to light another smoke.
• Joseph Buboi, a Bougainvillean, is one of the most talented sportsmen I have seen. He kicked ten goals as a seventeen-year-old, in bare feet, at the 1969 Lae Aussie Rules Carnival; he was in the 1969 South Pacific Games in Port Moresby as a high jumper and a pole vaulter. Rumour has it that he was too sore to play Aussie Rules when he was an apprentice carpenter with DCA so he ended up playing league with Aviat, was selected for the Kumuls, made captain and scored two tries against an Australian rep side. He was a Rabaul representative basketballer. A nice modest man to boot.
Whilst at the games in Moresby he was found in the ladies’ dormitory after lights out, so the team manager banned him from the high jump on the last day. Kila, a Papuan, won the event which was the last to finish. Joe went over to Kila to congratulate him and as the bar was still up asked if that was the winning height. Kila said yes and Joe walked back, ran up, cleared the height easily.
Talk presented at the PNGAA Adelaide Lunch, 29 March 2019