Max Ford, an indigenous gentleman who lives at Mt Gravatt in Brisbane, recently gave me a collection of Sporting Life magazines from the late 1940s, early 1950s.

They are absolute gems, containing so many articles, brilliantly written, about sports people of the time.

Here are several examples of the topics.



Haydn Bunton, an Aussie Rules legend from Fitzroy, nominates Herbie Matthews of South Melbourne as one of best Australian rules players he has seen.


Henry Searle (Grafton born), sculled along the Clarence River to school at Woombah, from the family sugar cane farm. On the Richmond River (to the north) John McLean (originally from Shoalhaven) and ‘Big Jim’ Paddon, from Evans Head, won a number of world titles in different eras. There was no rowing on the Tweed River, when I lived there. But now there is a rowing club, just a stone’s throw from our place in Tumbulgum Road. The Swiss Rowing team trained there, ahead of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. A 1974 Murwillumbah Brothers’ rugby league teammate, Malcolm Minns, was a fine rower. Rowing was a sport at Maclean High School on the Clarence River, where he was a student.


Noted journalist, E E Christensen rates his greatest tacklers. They were: Vic Hey, Ernie Norman, Herb Gilbert, Noel Mulligan, Herb Steinohrt, Bill Paten and Edwin Brown.

Brother James P Lacey, the new principal of Waverley College (Christian Brothers) in Sydney, praises the skills of Queensland representative, Lionel Armit from Townsville Brothers. Br. Lacey had worked at the Christian Brothers’ School in Townsville in 1947.


Alex Ross, Arthur Toby (who later went to league), Owen ‘Stumpy’ Crossman, Wylie Breckenridge and Roger Cornforth are featured. Crossman was famous for his tackling deeds against the All Blacks. Cornforth was an Olympic water polo player; a 1936 New South Wales hurdles champion and held the Australian breast stroke title in 1939. During World War II he was a prisoner of the Japanese. After the war, he played for the Wallabies against the All Blacks – in 1947. His father rowed for Oxford and played rugby union for Oxford against the 1908 Wallabies.



Noted New Zealand journalist, Terry McLean writes about Maori footballers, including George Nepia and Albert Falwasser, who went to league.


The great Dally Messenger, the man whose switch from rugby union gave league the impetus it needed for success in 1908, reveals his ‘Secrets of Football.’

“The whole scheme of rugby league should be to brighten the game and not maim each other,” he wrote. “The players should shoot the ball about, and give the public the thrills it wants.” In 1949, Dally’s favorite players were Bob Lulham and Bruce Hopkins.

Photo: Sporting Life.

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