Almanac History – What happened on January 9? (Part Two)


Hopefully, Ian Hauser won’t mind but I am picking up the ball and running with a sequel to his post the other day with the above title (Part One).


Like Ian, I am a History lover even though English Language & Literature later bumped it to sub-major status in my degree. The family groan when I explain to unsuspecting new audiences how Foxtel History 608 is my favourite channel. Mind you, it must rub off sometimes. Our eldest son Sam came home one day in Year 10 and explained why his History teacher, Mr Knox was his favourite teacher.


“He’s sort of like you dad because he’s really nutty about History. And he is really quite a likeable bloke too even though he is a bit strange – you know, like, weird strange.”


Strewth! High praise indeed from a 16 year old son.


But then, like Ian, I start rummaging around the house on a warm quiet January afternoon. Very soon I am rewarded with the discovery of three priceless pieces of primary source History, namely, my 1971 and 1972 diaries and the attached 1973 photo. Qui cherche trouve!  Readers should note I would have been, respectively, 17 18 and 19 years old during this period.


9 January 1971 (Saturday)


“Lovely day (high 70’s) after yesterday’s heat and wind in the mid to high 90’s. Bill and Peter were stripping linseed while I helped dad with sheep during the afternoon. Fourth Test starts in Sydney. England collapse to 7/267 at stumps after being 2/201. Went down to Bill and Pat’s for tea followed by Euchre and the trots on the Penthouse Club.”


Yes folks, Ulysses it certainly is not however as a simple snapshot of a warm summer Saturday on a farm in Winchelsea 49 years ago it serves its purpose. Victorian Almanackers of a certain age will recognise the oblique reference to Mike Williamson and Mary Hardy who hosted the highly popular Penthouse Club with live crosses to Bill Collins at the Showgrounds trots. Les Carlyon once wrote that the “Showgrounds was one of the great bear pits of Australian sport, a Colosseum without lions and Christians (where it) was akin to watching a soccer match on a tennis court. The track was tiny: three furlongs around with straights of 110 yards.” (The Age, 4 February 1994)


9 January 1972 (Sunday)


“Lazy morning at Rosebud finally getting up around midday. Steak sandwich, fish and chips and three or four VB cans for lunch before heading back to town. Driving lesson for Fran and late afternoon Mass before tea with the Donnelly’s in Mount Waverley then back home to Geelong.”


Yep, sounds like a typical 18 year old’s weekend brunch from the early 1970’s. Can’t remember who gave the long suffering Fran the driving lesson after the VB cans but the drive back from Rosebud would have sobered him up a bit. And then that much unloved feature of weekends around that time – late Sunday afternoon Mass with the dry horrors and only then after the recovery lunch had just fixed up the legacies of the night before. (Author’s note: yes I know, the declare war on 1034 messages were only just starting to gain traction.)


9 January 1973 (Tuesday)


Unfortunately no written records of early 1973 survived my infamous “fourteenth move of student housing purge” of the mid 1970’s. However the attached photo of your author umpiring a Geelong v Brunswick VCA Sub District cricket match at a very different looking Kardinia Park the following Saturday will have to suffice as our primary source material here.


And umpiring you ask? Well, what does a bowler who can’t bat very well do when he dislocates his bowling shoulder during the footy season? Besides, it was one of the more enjoyable ways for an impecunious student to earn cash money for discretionary spending.


Other points of interest in no special order.


First, Cats’ fans in particular may identify the sparse background of the outer behind me as the river end (southern end) goals. One point post is just in shot. In those days, the ground featured a real year around turf wicket – a north/south running batting highway in summer and a mud heap in winter. And of course, no flash stands back then comrades. Standing room only.


Secondly, from memory, the close up field rather flattered that off spinner but it seems Geelong must have had Brunswick on the back foot by then.


Thirdly, do you reckon I could have stood any closer to the stumps? “All the better to see you and hear you Grandma!” Modern umpires would most likely be shocked.


Sure, not all my colleagues stood that close but, seriously, it is clear evidence that the ridiculous trend for umpires to stand as far back as they do now is only a relatively recent bad habit. I have no idea how they think they can see and hear any better than I would have been able to.


OK then Almanackers, surely there were other things going on around the nation on this date in any given year. You know, not the six o’clock news stories (actually, the commercial bulletins used to start at 6.30 back then) but the everyday pursuits of the meaning of life by good normal folk on sporting grounds, in workplaces, in family living rooms, in shopping centres, in pubs, in schools, on television shows, or even in churches (gulp).


So get to it. I’m sure Ian won’t mind further historical reflections.



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About Roger Lowrey

Roger Lowrey is a Geelong based writer who lists his special interests as reading, writing, horse racing, Roman history and AEC electoral boundaries. Some of his friends think he is a little eccentric.


  1. Ian Hauser says

    Roger, I’ll assume that ‘imitation is the sincerest form etc’, so go for it! On your given dates, I had just celebrated my 18th, 19th and 20th birthdays, was a poor tertiary student in Adelaide and had a Saturday morning gardening job for an elderly lady and her brother who lived just down around the corner. Paid 80 cents per hour, the going rate!

    1971 – About to repeat first year at Flinders Uni. (I had enjoyed a rather social 1970.) In January, drove from home in SE Qld back to Adelaide with cousin Rod and a mate named Baz. Battled flooded roads in NSW but eventually got there. I think the gardening rate got to a buck an hour.

    1972 – Dad bought me an FJ Holden from a neighbour. Had to drive it from Queensland to Adelaide, accompanied by friend JDS. Epic trip down the Newell. On my third day back in Adelaide, got pulled over by a cop who needed some convincing that the long-haired scruff behind the wheel hadn’t nicked the car.

    1973 – No clear memory of January. Probably at home on the farm picking bloody pumpkins and watermelons in the steamy heat. Or planting sweet potatoes. No wonder a bloke became a teacher! By now, I had graduated to a bowling all-rounder for the Unley Lutherans.

    I wonder what PB, Mickey and Swish were up to in the same city (or thereabouts) at that time?

    Salad day, Roger.

  2. RDL,

    Your 1971 entry is a classic.

    Jan 9, 1972. We were on a family holiday in Adelaide having driven over in the VW Beetle (Morris 1100 too small for growing kids). Not muchmemory of Jan 9 but recall a few days earlier standing at the front window of a department store (no Rundle Mall then?) watching G.S.Sobers belt 254 at the MCG for Rest of the World.

    Jan 9, 1973 We had movedto Queensland and we kids would most likely have been at the Oakey swimming pool.

    Perhaps we could have an ‘On this Day’ section on the site.

    Thanks for your piece.

  3. Outstanding Roger.

    My 9ths of Januarys when I was growing up in Montmorency would have involved playing cricket in the backyard and trying to bat like Greg Chappell or (insert other great batsmen of the 70s).

    Love the idea of an “on this day” section.

  4. Peter Warrington says

    pretty sure I was there aged almost 6 v the English, would have been taught to boo Boycott. Snowy’s later 7-40 imprinted forever on our knuckles. why did Chappelli open in that test?

    and then the next year was the world, saw GS’s 197, might have been there the day before for Massie to run crazy with the 7-for.

    after checking the 9th was the rest day v Pakistan the next year. we would have hated that. playing in the front yard doing the Asif Masood, and bowling through the oleander if you were round the wicket as Massie.

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