xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Picking a winner.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Picking a winner.

Picking winners is not easy. In fact, throughout my life I have demonstrated an innate ability to reject or ignore some outstanding winners. It is a sorry tale.

In 1957 I was holidaying in Melbourne. From 1956 to 1961, when I was studying at Graylands Teachers College and in my first years of teaching, I used to spend my long summer holidays in Melbourne, later in Sydney, with my cousin Maurie Carr and his beautiful wife, Bobbie. I spent a lot of those summers watching Davis Cup tennis and Test cricket matches.

In January, 1957, I attended the Davis Cup matches at Kooyong Tennis Courts, which Australia won 5-Nil. After the doubles match was completed on the second day, the ground announcer informed patrons that after an interval of fifteen minutes there would be an exhibition tennis match between the junior singles champions of New South Wales and Victoria.

I decided I did not need to stay and watch these two young tennis players. After all, I said to myself, how many of these young players ever go on to be any good in senior ranks. As I walked out of Kooyong I passed Australia’s legendary tennis coach, Harry Hopman, who was talking to a small group of people, including two young men in tennis whites, whom I assumed were the New South Wales and Victorian junior champions, scheduled to play that exhibition match. These two young players looked pretty nondescript to me so I congratulated myself on my wise decision to give their game a big miss.

I am not sure who the 1957 NSW junior singles champion was but the Victorian junior champion was a red headed, freckled faced kid who happened to be named Rod Laver. We all now know that I gave up the chance to a watch a player who went on to become the only player to win two grand slams, in 1964 and 1969, as well as numerous prestigious tournaments in an absolutely stellar tennis career. Many wise judges say Rod Laver is the greatest tennis player who ever lived. Some people say Roger Federer is the greatest player who ever lived but even Roger Federer says Rod Laver deserves that title.

The year before, in 1956, I also had a five pound bet with a friend of mine that an up and coming young singer would never be as popular as Pat Boone. By the end of the year I had lost my bet. Pat Boone was quite popular, but he was well and truly eclipsed by that up and coming young singer, named Elvis Presley.

In 1965 I went to an interstate football match at Subiaco with a good mate of mine, Geoff Parker. Geoff was mathematics teacher at Churchlands Senior High School. As we entered the ground someone called out, “Hello, Mr Parker.” It was a fifteen-year-old boy and Geoff had a brief conversation with him before we moved further into the ground. Geoff enthusiastically told me that the young student was a brilliant footballer. Oh, yes, I thought to myself. How many times have I heard a teacher praise a young child prodigy to the heavens, only for them to fade into oblivion?
Well the young man in question was named Mike Fitzpatrick. He became a Rhodes Scholar, a brilliant engineer and successful businessman. He also became an outstanding footballer first with Subiaco and later with Carlton, where he achieved legendary status. He now holds a very powerful position in the administration of the Australian Football League.

When Jane, our first daughter was born in September, 1969 we placed her birth notice in the West Australian newspaper. I decided to keep the entire page of the paper featuring her arrival into our world.  I thought it would be a nice memento of a wonderful event.

On the other side of that page was a part of the financial news. It featured what was to become another wonderful event. A small story said that Poseidon Nickel had quickly risen from 10 cents to 19 cents a share; It was the height of what was called the “Nickel Boom” in Western Australia. Like a lot of people, I was caught up in the frenzied nickel boom fever and in early October I bought 100 shares of Longreach and 100 shares of Abrolhos at 25 cents per share. I did not buy any shares in Poseidon, which by then was selling at about a dollar a share.

Well, within a month, Poseidon shares rocketed to 250 dollars per share while Longreach and Poseidon hovered around 30 cents a share. Eventually, the nickel boom busted and Poseidon shares fell back to 20 cents a share. I held on to my Longreach and Abrolhos shares for another two years. When I sold then they were worth about 10 cents a share. In fact, any shares I bought quickly lost their market value.

In 2001 I attended the Hopman cup in Perth. I was watching Switzerland play Spain. The Hopman Cup is the only major tennis tournament where men and women compete in the same teams. Teams compete against each other in Ladies’ Singles, Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles.

The Spanish team consisted of two very well known players, Maria Sanchez Vaccario and Tommy Robredo. The female Swiss player was equally well known, having recently won at Wimbledon. Her name was a Martina Hingis and she was about 18 years old. As I watched the Ladies’ Singles I thought, I can see why the tournament organisers wanted to include Switzerland in the Hopman Cup because Martina Hingis is a big drawcard, but where on earth, in Switzerland of all places, are they going to find a male player who can accompany her. I mean, how many people play tennis in Switzerland, they all too busy skiing, making chocolate and building cuckoo clocks?  I thought this male Swiss player, whoever he is, will appear in the Hopman Cup and quickly fade into obscurity. Well, not exactly. The young male Swiss player was Roger Federer. He and Martina Hingis won the Hopman Cup that year.

So folks, these are but a few examples of how, during my life, I have continuously failed to recognise or pick winners. However, I did manage to pick one winner. It was a choice I made that has provided me with a lifetime of happiness. Her name was Lesley Young. On the 26th of August, 2016, we celebrate 48 years of happy married life.

 Thank you, Lesley, for making me the happiest winner in history.
Monday, August 26th, 1968. Winners are grinners!

March 8, 2014. On Board Queen Mary 2

Crazy Grandies with Grandpa and Nanny. Picnic in July school holidays, 2016.
Jetsetters in the 1960s

Christmas 2016

1 comment:

  1. Loved it Noel! Particularly the last bit. Silver tongue!


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