Almanac Cricket Dinner: Joe Darling biography with Bernard Whimpress and Graeme Ryan


I’ve always been intrigued by what makes creative and successful people click.


Whether they are in the arts, particularly painting, writing or music, the sporting field, or elsewhere,  I enjoy reading and watching documentaries about them, as well as listening to and participating in discussions about their formative years, critical moments in their careers and other key aspects affecting their life.


As a youngster I devoured cricket books, especially those written by the greats such as E W Swanton, Neville Cardus, and others of that ilk, so when the Footy Almanac presents an evening with cricketing authors I endeavour to make the two hour journey from my country abode to be in the audience.


Last night was no exception with Bernard Whimpress and Graeme Ryan discussing their recently published biography, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer,Politician and family Man at the North Fitzroy Arms to an intimate and interested audience about the exploits of their topic.


The background for the development of the book was instigated by descendants of the Darling family in particular Clare Cannon as family members wanted to delve deeper into the background of their famous forebear. Having Clare at the dinner  with Bernard and Graeme was an added bonus as she was able to provide a family perspective and resource to this wonderful story.


So what did I learn? Too much to remember so I bought the book!


But I do remember: Joe Darling hit the first six in Test Cricket, first to hit three centuries in a Test series, fathered 15 children!, his father did not want him to play cricket so bought him a property to take his mind off the game, obviously a lot of money in the family (his father John a shrewd businessman bought a 25% share in BHP in its early days), nude wrestling with Ernie Jones, but the point that came through to me was the respect Darling had as a leader from his fellow team mates. He set the example, and led by the example taking his team mates along with him.


Bernard and Graeme provided an informative and lively discussion though due to  time elements they barely scratched the surface of their dedicated research recorded in their magnificent tome but what they presented had all of us hanging out for more.


I’m looking forward to reading, what I am sure is  a wonderful and informative book about an extremely interesting man, to develop a  deeper and wider understanding as to what made Joe Darling tick.


Copies are available through Graeme Ryan’s website



About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks Col
    A fun night and great to meet up. I’ve co-authored several books – most notably in the past (1984, 1994, 1997) with a good friend (Nigel Hart) which was very much a joint project and involved what I would term overwriting so that it was hard to distinguish elements of the book which were written by one of the other of us. In this Darling book I wrote Joe’s biography entirely and Graeme’s role was compiling the Appendices and as publisher.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Sadly my cricket training and coaching commitments on Thursday night meant I couldn’t make the trip to the city for this, sounds like a great night. Can’t wait to buy and read the book, J.Darling seems a fascinating subject.

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