Lou Richards’ Master Class At Melbourne High

By Braham Dabscheck

22 May 2017

 

Like many others, I was saddened to hear about the death of Lou Richards. He was not someone that I ever met, though he was an important personality in the childhood of many of us Melbourne based post war baby boomers. Since his death he has often found his way into my mind and forced me to make sense of his ‘importance’.

 

For us baby boomers obsessed with footy, Lou was someone we grew up with. We saw him on Seven’s World of Sport on Sunday morning (which used to run for three hours), read his ‘kiss of death’ predictions and reports on various aspects of the game in The Sun and looked forward to Thursday night when he and his larger than life sidekick Jack Dyer presented League Teams. Bobby Davis became the missing piece of the Three Stooges after I became an economic refugee in finding employment in Sydney. Then I was confined to watching Match of the Day on Saturday afternoons before the technological revolution which now enables us to watch any game we want.

 

Lou was a natural born comedian who loved telling what we would now call dad jokes. He would make fun of all and sundry, including and especially himself. His jokes were never personal or nasty. Lou was the unofficial crown prince of the banter that exists between supporters of rival teams when they win and lose; a comedian who had a highly developed sense of the ‘footy absurd’.

 

I was a student at Melbourne High School in the period 1963 to 1966. One day Lou and Jack were invited to address us in the school’s splendid assembly hall. I cannot remember what year it was, but I am sure it was in the morning, early in the day. If I was to guess the year it was either 1965 or 1966. Except for two items I cannot recall the content of their dialogue, other than it was about football. We all thought that Jack and Lou were the best guest speakers the school had ever invited. At last some relief from having to be serious and hard working or the sky would fall in!

 

As they were about to finish their address, Mr Charles, the Deputy Headmaster, asked them their views on what was the likely future of former school boy David Parkin who was then playing with the Hawks. They said the right things and as history has shown they weren’t wrong. I once meet David Parkin and relayed this to him and we had a pleasant conversation involving footy and Melbourne High. Then as they were walking off the stage Lou stopped, looked at us with a cheeky grin on his face and I am sure that he winked (and if he didn’t he should have) and said ‘boys you can have the rest of the day off and go home’. This induced an enormous laugh and mad panic in Mr Charles who countermanded this most reasonable of instructions from a member of the older generation. As I type this I am having difficulty stopping myself from laughing.

 

What does Lou represent, what was the source of his importance. For many of my generation, footy and support for our respective teams was one of the first things that we held dear to our hearts and sense of identity. But this thing which we held as being so important was really unimportant. Teams win and lose, what goes around comes around. Lou saw the humour and fun in the topsy-turvy world of sport. If your team won well done, if it lost so what it would win in the future and lets enjoy the comedy of life on display for us on and off the field as players entertain us with their skill and competitive drive. At a time when parents, school teachers and most adults focused on the seriousness of life, Lou was marching to a different drum beat. Footy that most important unimportant thing is something to be enjoyed. Life is good and full of fun. Go for it and enjoy yourself.

 

This is the Master Class that Lou Richards delivered for me and my fellow school boys on that day sometime in the mid 1960s when he and Jack Dyer visited Melbourne High; something he did throughout his life. Thank you Lou for being who you were.

 

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    ‘Footy that most important unimportant thing is something to be enjoyed.’ Perfect. Still applies today. He always had the twinkle in the eye and a sense of mischief making. Very important natural qualities. Thanks for the memories Braham.

  2. Singers Rocket says:

    All so true Braham.

    No Jack, Lou and Bob at the Kyabram Primary School around about that time.

    Our only ever guest was the then Doug Nicholls.

    And the teachers were so annoyed with us for just asking questions about football…

    So great to see him honoured by the AFL naming the Indigenous Round after him.

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