Ashley Mallet’s Speech in 2003 – Part 1

The Trust honoured the 125th anniversary of the birth of the great Victor Trumper on 2 November 2002 in a special ceremony at the SCG. Speakers included Hon Joe Hockey, Mr Ashley Mallet, Mr Alan Davidson, Mr Arthur Morris, and the Rev Ray Robinson from St Paul’s Anglican Church (where Trumper’s funeral was held)
offered a prayer.

Descendants of Victor Trumper, including his grandson, Victor Trumper III and family, and Mr John Briggs and family (descendants of Sarah ‘Annie’ Briggs – Victor’s wife) also attended. Over 100 Members, guests, and sporting and political dignitaries
attended the ceremony, and took the opportunity to walk on to the SCG
where Trumper once played. A plaque commemorating the day has been erected at the rear of the M.A. Noble Stand. An extract of Ashley Mallett’s speech follows:

Today we pay homage to Victor Trumper. Cricket lovers marvelled at his batting,
but there was more…. much more to this modest man considered to be the greatest
batsman of cricket’s Golden Age. Trumper was one of nature’s good guys.
He proved that a good guy can also run first. His mix of consummate skill and humble
nature touched the collective soul of the Australian people. They revered him.
Any nation that could create a legend out of a major military disaster that was
Gallipoli and put a big red racehorse on a pedestal is unique.

We are a nation with a tough exterior warm heart. According to Neville Cardus, who wielded the pen as skillfully as a Bradman cover drive, Trumper was sheer beauty in full flight: the eagle; whereas Don Bradman was all efficiency and speed: the aeroplane. Trumper could tear an attack apart but upon reaching the hundred he looked about for a bowler deserving of his wicket. Bradman was so different, ruthlessly efficient… Bradman built his innings on the bones of an attack which was crushed and broken in spirit.

Bad pitches were a challenge and a joy to Trumper. In January, 1904 Vic scored 74 out
of Australia’s total of 122 against the wiles of Wilfred Rhodes and George Hirst on
what was called in those days, a “sticky dog”. Rain and sun had taken its toll on the
MCG wicket, Rhodes took a match haul of 15/124, but it was Trumper’s mastery on
that treacherous wicket that enthralled the people.

The Trumpers lived in Paddington and young Vic attended nearby Crown Street
Super Public School in Darlinghurst. He soon became the darling of the school cricket
team and people were already saying, “have you seen Trumper from Crown Street
bat?” long before Vic began playing grade cricket for Paddington. Young Trumper played his first cricket at Moore Park, the vast tract of land near the SCG where there are a myriad of matches played Saturdays. There are so many stories about Trumper, as there have been about Bradman, both true and apocryphal, that it is difficult to know which is which.

We do know he was generous to a fault. That he loved his mother’s cooking and his
favourite food was Toad-in-the-Hole. He never smoked or touched alcohol. Nor did
he bet, although he learnt to play euchre and he became an accomplished pianist. At
the Paddington club he became friendly with James Kelly, the Test ‘keeper.
His friendship with Kelly took him towards his greatest partnership, for Kelly
was courting his sister of the girl who was destined to become Mrs Victor Trumper.
Kelly introduced Victor to Sarah Anne Briggs at Melbourne Station. It was March
9, 1989.

They did not meeting again until December 22, 1899 when NSW played Victoria in Melbourne, but Victor was hooked. He made many a journey to Melbourne right up until the day Vic married Annie at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne on June
7, 1904. Victor was by then the world’s best and most charismatic batsman.
Vic and Annie returned to Sydney where they lived with Victor’s parents, first in
Paddington, then in Chatswood. In 1907 Victor contacted Scarlet Fever. His father
suffered from lung trouble and he slept in a tent in their Paddington backyard. His doctor advised him to move to the north shore and that is how Vic came to play for Gordon in Chatswood.

Victor began his working life in the NSW Government Stores Department. Later he
worked in the Probate Office, under the wing of ex Test man, Tom Garrett, who
played in Vic’s first State game for NSW versus South Australia. In 1899 Vic went
into partnership with Hanson “Sammy” Carter, the NSW and Test wicketkeeper
who doubled as an undertaker, in a sports business.

The Trumper and Carter Sports Depot was situated at 108 Market Street, Sydney.
Victor was a hopeless businessman. He once grabbed a bat off the 7/6d rack after a hectic Saturday morning trading; hit a glorious century for Paddington that afternoon and on the Monday returned the bat to the rack, with the note: “Used bat. Special 3/9d”.

The former NSW Governor Sir William McKell, who once sent me a fading pic of
Trumper, told me that as a boy he went into Trumper’s shop with a few mates.
He asked Vic for a real ball, a six-stitcher, but Vic talked the boys out of buying it,
saying it would quickly scuff on the asphalt pitches. He advised them to buy the cheaper compo ball. Eventually Victor gave the boys a few balls, a bat, and a pair of pads, set of stumps and a pair of batting gloves for the cost of the compo ball.

No wonder the kids loved him. Soon Victor lost Carter as a business partner. Sammy returned to his father’s undertaking business. Maybe he was sick of Vic giving away all the profits. But Sammy remained firm friends with Vic. He often used to turn up at cricket matches in a horse-drawn hearse and it was Hanson Carter co-ordinated the Trumper funeral in 1915.

Victor teamed with ex-Test James Giltinan in a cricket depot and mercery business. The pair figured prominently in the formation of NSW Rugby League. Vic played a few seasons for South Sydney as full back. He twice broke his collarbone and every time he kicked the ball he had to remove his boot and sock on his right foot and put his double-jointed toe back into place.

Vic was concerned the amateur code (Rugby Union) had no practical insurance
scheme in place for injured players.