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The Voice of Rugby League

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are callingFrom glen to glen, and down the mountain sideThe summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.At 90 years of age, Frank Hyde has had a good innings. He captained NSW, won a premiership, and has been a captain-coach and a referee. One of life?s true gentlemen, Frank has been awarded an OAM, a MBE and a Dally M ?Life Achievement? Award. His career has seen him as a writer and journalist. In the 1970s, Frank had a top 10 hit with his rendition of ?Danny Boy?. But most memorably, Frank Hyde is known as a radio caller and ?the voice of rugby league?.But sadly, Australia's most beloved rugby league commentator is gravely ill.But come ye back when summer's in the meadowOr when the valley's hushed and white with snow'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadowOh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.Born in 1916, Frank?s family lived on Sydney?s north shore. He began playing rugby league at St Patrick's Marist Brothers school. In 1925 his team won the premiership.Frank?s contributions as a player and administrator were enormous. He was graded as a centre in 1936, his first opponent being the great Dave Brown. In 1937, Newtown thrashed Easts by a record 57-5 in the City Cup Final and Frank scored three tries. A year later NSWRL Residential Rules forced Frank to switch to Balmain where he was appointed captain. The 22-year-old made a huge impression and was selected for NSW.In 1939, Frank led the Balmain side to premiership glory. In the same year he toured New Zealand with the Sydney Reps and would have almost certainly played for Australia if not for World War Two.During the war, Frank transferred to Newcastle where he captain-coached Waratah Mayfield. He later became captain-coach of North Sydney, leading the club to a grand final appearance.In 1942, Frank somehow found time to marry his sweetheart, Gaby, the couple eventually raising six children together.And if you come, when all the flowers are dyingAnd I am dead, as dead I well may beYou'll come and find the place where I am lyingAnd kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.As a broadcaster for radio 2SM, Hyde blazed a trail with calls that have gone down in the annals of sports broadcasting. From 1953-1986, he called a record 33 consecutive grand finals and was never defeated in the ratings. Frank?s memorable ?It?s high enough, it?s long enough and it?s straight between the posts?, could be heard across the red roofed suburbs of Sydney. Frank?s dulcet tones brought rugby league into our homes and into our lives.?Most of today?s callers were smart enough to realise there will only ever be one Frank Hyde and weren?t silly enough to try to copy him,? says columnist Mike Gibson.?I don?t think any of them will ever be Frank Hyde, nor would they want to be. I think everyone in the radio game accepts that Frank Hyde alone was the voice of rugby league ? and always will be.?A devout catholic, Frank has pointed to his faith as been the driving force behind his impressive list of achievements. ?I was a product of the Depression, so everything I have achieved in my life is a direct result of my faith,? he says.Not often publicised was Frank Hyde?s charity work. After calling a game at the SCG, he would sometimes visit the Matthew Talbot Hostel to help those less fortunate.?It?s funny because I would go down to help and the residents would abuse me for giving the man of the match award to the wrong bloke,? Frank recalls.?It was all in good fun. But, seriously, helping the less fortunate made me never take things in my life for granted.?In recent years, Frank has had to curtail his duties.?I?m still under doctor?s orders, so I have to play it on the safe side,? he said. ?I?m working my way back to health and plan to be around for some time yet.?And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above meAnd all my dreams will warm and sweeter beIf you'll not fail to tell me that you love meI'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.Ref:1908.comCatholic Weekly

The Question

MY young son came home from school last month with an important question. You know the type I mean? that father-son discussion and a moment of dread for dads the world over.

Jack Parsons and a son?s devotion

IF you have a copy of the Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players handy, open it up and look up a player who went by the name of Parsons, he played for St George in 1926. His entry is a modest one:PARSONS, J (St George 1926) 4 games (0pts)As I said, it?s a modest entry.Like most people, I didn?t pay too much attention. I simply added the name to my own list of players. Indeed, there are many players who are long forgotten, and no doubt there will be countless more in the future.I wouldn?t have given J Parsons another thought if it wasn?t for a call I got last month from a gentleman introducing himself as Ray Parsons. Ray was keen to talk about his father Jack who played halfback for St George in the 1920s. I opened my own records and included the words ?Jack? and ?halfback?.But Ray had more.He told me all about his dad and after some discussion Ray entrusted me with his family memorabilia: a few old news clippings, a team photo, and a beaut souvenir paper napkin from a St George v Kurri Kurri trial match in 1926.Click on the napkin for larger imageRay spoke of his father?s friends and casually mentioned Arthur ?Snowy? Justice, former St George captain, League official and legend.?My dad was always good mates with Snowy. The two men would sit and talk for ages.?Jack played alongside other legends such as the fastest forward in the game, Ernie 'Curly' Lapham and ?the great destroyer? Aubrey 'Jockey' Kelly, and Saints first ever try scorer in George 'Bluey' Carstairs, all of whom were household names in their day.But Ray saved his fondest memories for his own father.Jack Parsons was born in 1904 and always lived in St George. His mother was Headmistress at Bexley Primary School and according to Ray, Jack was considered a rough character.?As were most footballers,? Ray laughed.Jack played Rugby League as a young teenager where he starred for the Bexley Hotspurs in 1919 [pictured]. He was graded at St George and came to notice as an exceptional halfback in the second grade side of 1925. In the same year, young Jack married and the couple had a daughter.The St George Call wrote about Jack in glowing terms and described the second grader as ?the best of the bunch?. The Truth was equally impressed stating that Parsons was ?the best back in the side?.It was in 1926 when Jack, 22, finally got his chance in the top grade. But the St George team that year were not much to write home about, finishing on the bottom of the ladder.In The St George Call, the enigmatic ?Forward? described in detail the kicking skills and speed of this new ?nippy? halfback. ?Parsons, who for his first game in First Grade performed exceptionally well. He was easily the best back.?Wooden spooners in 1926, the Dragons Slayers went on to become runners-up in 1927, but they achieved this remarkable turnaround without Jack. Like so many players of the day, he left the game to support home and family. A halfback of genuine ability and with so much promise, Jack Parsons never played first grade again. Instead, he departed Rugby League to concentrate on his engineering business, and in 1928, Ray was born.?My father always loved the game.? Ray recalled.?Even after he stopped playing he?d take us to Earl Park to see Saints play.?He told me his two greatest memories were getting married and being selected in first grade at St George.?Jack passed away in 1973, aged just 69.During our discussion Ray told me of the many fine players that were being forgotten. In particular, he wanted people to know that his father was a good player and if not for family responsibilities, he might have gone on to be a great player.It?s hard not to be touched by a son?s devotion, even if that son is old enough to be my own grandfather.I told Ray I?d do my best and put it in print somewhere. Jack may mean little to the modern League follower, but we should never forget that every player experiences something special, a different type of greatness, when first selected for first grade. And this special moment extends to family and follows through for generations afterwards.

Us versus Them

MY taxi driver didn?t take long to get to the point.

The great Herb Narvo

THIS week?s Forum Seven?s feature is particularly relevant given the fanfare surrounding Anthony Mundine?s desire to mix rugby league with boxing. The Forum Seven?s is a fantastic essay writing contest held on our website and this piece is written by our very own Steven Williams. Please visit F7?s Central on the left nav bar if you?re interested in participating.

My last game of football

THE last 24 hours have been hell...

A town called Tingha

TINGHA has a population of just 850 people. Nestled 25 kilometres from Inverell and 689 kilometres from Sydney, Tingha is remote enough. A trip to the beach means an all day drive just to get there. Tingha may be small but they have a Rugby League field and in recent times, have produced some great players including Preston ?Presto? Campbell and Owen ?Owie? Craigie.

The Nadir Of Their Fortunes

?IF I saw him on the road, I?d run the bastard over?

Match fixing in the 1960s

THIS is a true story.

The Great Herb Narvo

WHEN discussion comes up about the fitness of modern sportspeople, we often think of our own footballers. But it?s hard to imagine many of today's Rugby League players matching it with the great Herb Narvo.

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