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A Sabbath Round by C.J. Dennis

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Behold! The very scene's a benediction!
   The earth, the sky, all call to worship here.
Surely men's souls must garner sure conviction
   Of some high Presence in those heavens clear.
Surely no doubter, gazing on such beauty,
   Doubts still the Ruler of the stars and sun.
To see, to wonder is a prayer, a duty --
   Duty well done.

Below soft skies the velvet bent is sweeping
   To glorious vista where the fairways fall;
On high, a singing, soaring lark is keeping
   Tryst with the kindly Giver of it all.
How else could mortal be but humbly prayerful
   Amid these gifts munificently spread.
Yet -- careful, little man! Oh, do be careful!
   Don't lift your head!

Shall men bend low and hearken to dull droning
   In man-made cloisters on a day like this,
The very gifts of Providence disowning,
   Nature ignoring, and foregoing bliss?
Here, truly, is a benison, a glory,
   A wonder and a miracle indeed,
More manifest than any fabled story
   Of olden creed.

Nay, here is sanctuary. White clouds, trailing
   Their tattered fleeces into that great vault,
Make all your sculptured arches unavailing.
   Is to find joy in this a grievous fault?
Is it the wiser to preserve a habit
   Old and outworn, and so neglect it all?
But, wait. The game's important, Mr. Babbit.
   Eye on the ball!

First published in Stead's Review, 2 December 1929

We Are Eleven by C.J. Dennis

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[The Victorian Eleven arrived yesterday.  The team consists of: - J. Ainsley, W. Carkeek, E. V. Carroll, F. B. Collins, F. Laver, F. Vaughan, P. McAllister, V. Ransford, T. Rush, J. Saunders, E. Goss, and G. Hazlitt. - Cricket Item]

            A cricketer,
That lightly goes and comes,
   And fields at risk of life and limb,
What should he know of sums?

I met a little "flannelled fool."
   He was eight, not out, he said;
And he was looking far from cool --
  His little face was red.

He had a lively, sporting air,
   And he was whitely clad;
His arms were bare, yes, very bare;
   His necktie made me mad.

"Batsmen and men that bowl the ball,
   How many may you be?"
"How many?" he said.  "Eleven in all."
   And wondering looked at me.

"And who are they? I pray you tell."
   He said, "Eleven are we.
Down at the match you'd know us well
   If you would go and see.

"Two of us in the longfield stand.
   Then there is Vaughan and Rush,
F. Laver, Collins, Ransford, and
   J. Ainsley," did he gush.

"Besides, there are four more of us,
   Whose names I don't recall;
But, if you must kick up a fuss
   I'll recollect 'em all."

"You say that two in longfield dwell,
   And then ten more we see;
Yet you're eleven?  I pray you tell,
   Sweet sir, how that may be."

Then did the little man reply,
   "Eleven in all are we,
Most of us at short slips try
   When we play 'off-theory.'"

"You run about, my little chap,
   Your limbs are very fit;
Unless you fear some grave mishap,
   Just try to think a bit."

"The grass is green; they may be seen,"
   The little man replied.
"Twelve steps or more, thro' the oval door,
   If you will step inside.

"My leg-glides there I try a bit;
   My fours I often drive;
As there upon the ground I hit,
   It makes me feel alive.

"And, often, ere the sun has set --
   That's if the light is fair --
My little cricket bat I get,
   And do my practice there.

"Carkeek, he was the first to go --
   He made a duck that day;
It was O'Connor laid him low,
   And so he went away.

"So in the grand stand he was laid,
   And, as the play went on,
Around about the wickets played
   McAlister and Vaughan.

"And then" -- "Hold on, my man," I smiled.
   "You're apt to be a rover.
Why, talk of Wordsworth's 'simple child'!
   You bowl that maiden over!

"How many of you now?" said I.
   "Are two and three and seven?"
Quick was the little man's reply --
   "Oh, mister, we're eleven."

"But that's absurd.  It's most absurd!
   You'd vex a saint in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away, for still
The little man would have his will.
   "Nay, mister we're eleven." 

First published in The Gadfly, 14 November 1906

The Wicked Cricket Critic by C.J Dennis

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The London Observer says it is difficult to put a weight on the tongues of cricket barrackers, but cricket writers are worse than barrackers.

If the cricket critics' nagging
Merits stern official gagging --
   Which I doubt --
How would critical ascetics,
With their prosy homiletics,
   Shut it out?
And the question then arises:
If more cricketing surprises,
   Such as bodyline, begin to threaten cricket,
And another stunt, when sprung,
Call for clicking of the tongue,
   Should a cricket critic critically click it?
When the barrackers grow lyric
In a manner most satiric
   And profane,
How, one ventures still to wonder,
May the clamor be kept under?
   How restrain?
For one barbaric larrik-
In can do a lot of barrack-
   In', and cause a lot of worry at the wicket.
But would sportsmen be abusing
Cricket canons in refusing
   To supply that cricket critic with a ticket?
As a critic analytic
Of the cricket critics' critic
   I would say,
When we criticise their cricket,
Then the players have to stick it,
   Come what may.
No specific soporific
May be used; for it is diffic-
   Ult to strike a critic partly paralytic.
So there's nothing gained in seeking,
As I know; and I am speaking
   As a critic of the cricket critic's critic.

First published in The Herald, 18 October 1933

The Silent Test by C.J. Dennis

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(With apologies to Kipling)

The English cricketer, Hobbs, has suggested that, in view of England's changed opinion on body-line, Australia should reciprocate with a move to suppress barracking.

"What's happening on this ground today?" asked one who never read.
"A cricket match, a cricket match," the old gatekeeper said.
"It seems a very tame affair," said he who never read.
"It ain't so tame as wot you think," the old gatekeeper said.
"'Tis a match between Australia an' old England's very best
Such as you never seen before. This is the new-style Test
For the body-line is done with, an' the barracker's at rest,
An' they're playin' all like gentlemen this mornin'."

"I hear no call, I hear no cry," said he who never read.
"You never will; you never will," the old gatekeeper said.
"But, hang it, man! What's wrong with 'em?" cried he who never read.
"Please speak a little quieter," the old gatekeeper said.
"For we've gas-masks in the Outer, and we've gagged 'em in the stand,
An' even in the members' part they speaks behind the hand.
An' you got to speak in whispers now that body-line is banned;
For they're playin' all like gentlemen this mornin'."

First published in The Herald, 2 August 1933

This Girlish Game by C.J. Dennis

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The customary Monday list of football casualties is published again today.

Of football played in divers lands
Rules vary, so one understands.
   With some the game is passing mild;
   In other lands it grows so wild
That bits and scraps of players strew
The field long ere a game is through.
   But here, the sport as I insist,
   Is tamer.  See this morning's list.

Far o'er the distant Khyber Hills
They play a game that's full of thrills
   On rules once framed, it seems to me,
   By one lamented Rafferty.
Each player bears a long, sharp knife
Involving some light loss of life.
   But here the sport, I must insist,
   Is softer.  See this morning's list.

In Hindu Koosh they play the game
With vim and dash that's far from pain.
   Gouging and throttling, so I've heard,
   Are methods very much preferred -
A wise economy with all:
They need no umpire and no ball:
   But here the sport, as I insist,
   Is duller.  See this morning's list.

In darkest Afric hinterlands
They bear knob-kerries in their hands
   To bash each other on the beam.
   But otherwise the sport is clean.
Yet I consider all the same
We play a much more girlish game.
   For here the rules, as I insist,
   Discourage homicide - see list.

First published in The Herald, 23 July 1934

The Test Outback by C.J. Dennis

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Old Larry of the Overland
   With a thousand head of stores,
Is camped tonight on the Mulga sand,
   And they're waiting on the scores.
New fangled things like motor cars
   Old Larry won't have yet;
But, set apart in the tucker cart,
The pride and joy of his stubborn heart --
   Is a battered wireless set.

The boy had fixed the wire that day
   To a tall tree by the creek;
And they hear a voice long leagues away
   From the old tin trumpet speak:
"Six two seven, England declares,"
   Then Larry cries enough.
"Bunks boys," says he, some sleep for me.
We start sun-up for the bottle tree
   On a long, dry stage and tough. 

The bells of hobbled horses ring,
   The stars wink overhead,
And stealthily -- a furtive thing --
   The boy creeps from his bed.
Ever so softly he tunes in
   While the sleeping drovers snore,
And with a happy, nervous grin
He bends his ear to listen in
   And hear Australia's score.

Sun-up.  The dogs and horses wait,
   Old Larry peers about.
"That kid," says he, "is sleeping late.
   Root the young blighter out . . ."
Now o'er the plain the cattle creep,
   Whips crack, and hoof beats pound;
But one small boy, a huddled heap,
Perched on the cart-tail fast asleep,
   Dreams of Old Trafford ground.

First published in The Herald, 9 July 1934

Shees by C.J. Dennis

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With the coming of winter sports, the controversy has been revived over the pronunciation of the work "ski."

Of these queer skates we seldom heard,
   When I was young and not too wise;
And, when I came across the word,
   I usually called them "skys."

And it was quite a shock to me,
   When some kind friend from overseas,
Corrected my philology,
   And told me to pronounce it "skees."

But here again, I understand,
   Precisians I'd failed to appease;
For one who'd been in Switzerland,
   Informed me that the word was "shees."

But, whether "skee," or "sky," or "shee,"
   Makes little difference to me;
For since I do not see the need,
   I've never "skeed" or "skied," or "sheed."

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 7 June 1927

The Automatic Umpire by C.J. Dennis

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A selenium cell installed at Lords, by switching on a bulb as visibility declines, is intended to relieve umpires of much responsibility in deciding when light is too poor for play.  The device suggests possibilities in the football field.

Now, Plugger Palook was a man in a thousand --
   (Said Horace the Howler) not one of yer fools.
But his barrackers vowed that he wasn't allowed
   Full scope for his talents account o' the rools.
For Plugger Palook was a footballer.  Get me?
   An' one of the old-school.  A wonder!  A wow!
He was no lily-handed gazook to be branded
   No sort of weaklin'.  Not Plugger; no how.
Not much of a kicker -- not so you would notice --
   His handball an' passin' left much to desire;
A dub at high-markin', his business was narkin'
   An' knocking out umpires wot rose up his ire.
He'd done in a dozen first half of the season,
   But the depth of officials you never can tell.
Now, a shortage they're fearin'; so, Plugger, not hearin',
   They goes an puts in a serlenium cell!
The dawgs!  Plugger starts in the very first quarter
   An' gets a bit rough'ouse in makin' things hot
When the cells says, "Now, Plugger!  You ain't playin' rugger
   Let up on them larrups."  An' Plugger says, WOT!!"
'Twas the first time in years than an umpire had cheeked him;
   So Plugger lets out a sockdollager crack.
There's a flash an' a sizzle; then he does a mizzle
   And lands out-o'-bounds on the broad of his back.
Well I'll say he was game, tho' a good bit bewildered,
   For he comes back again when he finds he is whole.
Then he tries for to tackle, but soars with a crackle,
   Up, clean thro' the posts; an' the crowd it roars, "Goal!"...
An' the heads calls that football! (said Horace the Howler)
   Deep pity for him in me proud heart it wells.
A champion world-beater!  A reel umpire eater!
   Done in an' disgraced by serlenium cells!

First published in The Herald, 6 June 1935

A Song About Feet by C.J. Dennis

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Although Larwood is out of the first Test team, and is said to be suffering from various foot and knee ailments, he continues to bowl in County matches.

I sing of feet.
Hearken to the rhythmic beat
Of my metre.  For completer
Tidings now we sit and yearn,
We would learn
Specific'ly of the position.
Definitely the condition
Of one pair of sporting feet.
Why does rumor see to cheat --
Why does news still refuse
Details, duly amplified?
Why are fuller facts denied?
It's utter rot!
Will he play or will he not?
Can you blame our rising heat?

Consider all the tales we meet.
Think of this scant news we get,
Fraught with mystery and fret:
First of hints and hopes a parcel,
Tales of troubles metatarsal,
Now a blister to affright us
Underneath a toe,
Now a sign of synovitis.
Still the rumors grow.
What's gone wrong?
We yearn, we long
To have the story made complete;
We madly bleat,

Pray forgive the way we greet
Tales like these;
And tell us, please,
Does he gallop to the wicket?
Can he face it? Can he stick it?
Shades of Spofforth, Jones and Cotter!
Does he tremble?  Does he totter?
All this vague, uncertain rumor
Hardly suits our present humor.
Speed the truth by urgent cable.
Is he active? Is he able?
Does he crawl
To bowl the ball
On feet unstable?
Waft the facts by wireless wave.
Tell us how those hoofs behave.
Some say this and some say that,
Tell us, are the arches flat?
Some declare he won't be picked.
Is this the truth, or are we tricked?
If the story is official
We'll abandon this initial
Fuss and fret . . . .
You say it is? O.K. by us . . . .
Pardon then indiscreet
Song of those no longer fleet,
Agonised and incomplete

First published in The Herald, 5 June 1934

Definitions by C.J. Dennis

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If Bradman continues as he has begun on English wickets there is a danger that he will lose all claim to the title of "batsman," not so much because of his unconventional methods, as because of the sheer lack of any means of comparison.  He is a class apart.

We have heard it.  Oft we heard it long before we came of age.
In whatever fields we practise, art whatever arts engage:
   Ever praise for the performance, still begrudging utmost fame,
   From who would extol the action yet withhold its hallowed name.
Thus, in painting, think how often, praise is mingled with complaint:
"No, of course the man's no 'artist' but, by jove, sir he can paint!"

As in fields of art and letters, tho' Australian pride has swelled
We may never match our betters while the title is withheld,
   So in sport. Consider racing. This young champion. What a horse!
   At all distances breaks records, old and new, on every course.
But the veterans, harking backward, ban the upstart with a word:
"Yes; no doubt the nag has speed. sir. But a 'racehorse'? Bah! Absurd!"

When the Digger put a show up Over There -- some push or road --
He won almost fulsome praise: "The bravest thing God made."
   But it seemed he still lacked something -- something vague and undefined
   That would make him, if he had it, the supremest of his kind.
And 'twas said in all good feeling of the valiant Aussie band:
"These men never will make 'soldiers'. But as fighters? Gad, sir! Grand!"

Tho' he skittled English wickets till their very hope grew bleak,
Ernie Jones was ne'er a "bowler". No, sir. Just a sort of freak.
   There's a danger in perfection that may set a man apart,
   What he gains in execution he may lose, 'twould seem, in art.
Now there's Bradman, freak run-getter, making scores till all is blue.
Can we call this man a "batsman". Speaking honestly, would you?  

First published in The Herald, 4 May 1938

Ignoramus by C.J. Dennis

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What crass, abysmal ignorance!  Forlorn!
   Despite his looks, the man must be half-witted!
They gasped for air; they gazed on him in scorn,
   And tried to think of epithets that fitted.
Clown!  Dolt!  Unlettered oaf!  And yet, some spark
   Of clear intelligence seemed in his bearing.
Men called him clever!  But his one remark --
   His only one -- had left them gaping, staring!
Long had they argued: first this one, then that,
   Sedately, quietly, gravely polemic.
No voice was raised; each had the subject pat --
   A weighty matter, almost academic.
But he had said no word; but sat and read
   A book by Einstein, while the rest disputed,
A hand supporting his fine, massive head;
   And seemed to be all that he was reputed.
And still they talked and talked; till some one stopped,
   Searching for words, and so the thread was broken.
Then he looked up; and then the bomb was dropped
   As, joining the discussion, he had spoken.
His long white finger marking still his place
   Upon the page he read, the question rolling
Prim and precise, he said, with smiling face:
   "Excuse me, but -- er -- what IS body bowling?"

First published in The Herald, 16 February 1933

Note: "body bowling" is another term for "bodyline".

A Peaceable Man. (As Told to the Bench) by C.J. Dennis

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"Lay orf it!" I sez to 'im.  "Bodyline bowlin'?" ...
I'm a peaceable cove.  But to see 'is eyes rollin',
To 'ark at 'im pratin'
An' gistickillatin',
To 'ark at 'im 'oller
An' splutter an' swaller
'Is great Adam's apple,
To look at 'im grapple
For 'andfuls of air like a preacher in chapel,
It 'ad me fair grinnin' . . . .
"Don't matter 'oo's winnin',"
I sez to 'im gentle.  "Right from the beginnin'
I'm peaceable; see?  An' tho' cricket I foller,
An' barrack an' 'oller,
You don't see me gettin' 'ot under the collar
An' seekin' to quarrel
Concernin' no moral
Or physical aspects.  It's only a game.
I'm a peaceable man; an' I'm wise to the same.
It's me objeck an' aim
To git slingin' no blame,
Nor compliments neither;
I don't deal in either.
I'm peaceable.  Get me?"  I sez to 'im quiet.
"An' body-line bowlin' don't injer me diet
Or trouble me sleepin',
I jist keep on keepin'
Quite mum.  It's a game; an' if Jardine or Wyatt
Wants body line bowlin' they're welcome to try it.
I don't say it's right, an' I don't say it's wrong.
I jist goes along --
An' me language ain't strong --
In me peaceable way.  An' I'm neither disputin'
A thing that you say, or agreein'.  Refutin'
I ain't; or advisin',
I ain't criticisin',
Inferrin', imputin', admirin', despisin',
Or nothink.  Lay orf it, I ain't interested.
Lay orf, till you git all the true facks digested" . . . 
But 'e won't lay orf.  So I quietly backs 'im
Close up the the gutter.  "Now, look," I sez.  "'Paxim."
That's Latin for 'peace'; an' it's alwiz me maxim.
"Lay orf it, good feller,
It's no use to beller" ....
But 'e still don't lay orf ... So I ups, an' I cracks 'im.

First published in The Herald, 26 January 1933

Note: this poem refers to the Bodyline controversy that arose during the MCC Test cricket tour of Australia in 1932/33.  The "Jardine" mentioned is Douglas Jardine, who was the visiting captain on that tour, and "Wyatt" is Bob Wyatt, who was vice-captain.

A Letter from England by C. J. Dennis

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Dear Boy --

As it appears to us old fogeys --
   If you'll excuse the term that we adopt --
You and your battery of bowling bogeys
   Seem to have come a rather nasty flop.
Psychology, you know, and moral suasion,
   And all these fine nuances of the game
Appear to us, at least on this occasion,
   To have been, so to speak, a trifle tame.
We would not be too hard; we know your task is
   Sterner than we supposed when you set out
Avoiding criticism, all we ask is.
   Please drop "shock tactics" and cut "stunting" out.
Try to avoid a batting ace with roots on,
   Like Don's, to keep him at the crease, old chap;
Use only bowlers who can keep their boots on,
   And, please, please don't count too much on that cap.
If you think it would make your prospects brighter
   And help the boys to bring those Ashes back,
We'll waive that rule about the player-writer
   So that you may consider using Jack.
Take his advice, my boy; he knows the Aussie
   And all his tricks.  So, trusting you will be
On this day fortnight in a better "possie,"
   Your ever hopeful Auntie,

First published in The Herald, 5 January 1933

Note: The "Don" in verse two is, of course, Don Bradman.  The "M.C.C." is, presumably, the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Stumps Drawn by Roderic Quinn

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Where are all the flannelled clan
   On this perfect playing day --
Spofforth, Murdoch, Bannerman,
   Each at master in his way?
Where are those that cheered them on
From the packed pavilion?

Shod in white with linen hat,
   How they held our hearts in thrall --
Massey with his shining hat,
   Turner with his cunning ball!
Hark again the shouts of old --
"Bravo! Middle stump! Well bowled!"

Where is now that human hive
   That rent Heaven with cheers to see
Bonnor's most Homeric drive,
   When he lifted mightily
High and still more high the ball
Over clock and tower and all?

Many years have passed since then,
   Since that most amazing sight;
Boys, who saw it, grown to men
   Still recall it, pipes alight,
As companioned well they walk
Lost in old-time cricket talk.

Ah, the joy, the thrill intense,
   Watching from the crowded hill,
"Fourers" to the picket fence,
   "Fivers" over! Ah, the chill
Or the loud, triumphant shout
When the umpire nodded -- Out!

State and Test -- what joys they were
   When the game was in its prime!
How the blood in us would stir
   Into ecstasy what time
Cutting, driving, hard and sweet,
Some hold batsman saved defeat!

How the noise roared round the town,
   Making good the passing hours,
When the Vics. went tumbling down,
   And we knew the match was ours!
How we drooped downcast, ashamed,
When the Vics. the victory claimed!

Where are they, the blithe, the bold,
   Whom it was our joy to watch?
Some are grey and all are old,
   Some have played their final match --
Shouldered bats and gravely gone --
To the packed Pavilion.

Gone, too, are the watching throng;
   Now no more their plaudits rise.
All is silent save the song
   Of a lone lark in the skies;
And -- the sole life of the scene --
Swallows skim across the green.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 November 1916

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

How We Beat the Bungtown Crew by Phil Garlick

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Just sit you down, my hearties, and I'll tell you what I've known
To befall the boys we played with in the days of "Mike" Malone.
We reckoned that we knew the game, and we didn't care a curse
For all the combinations in the Bungtown universe.

We were due to play the Bruisers, "friends" we'd often met before,
And it came our way thus early that with us they'd "wipe the floor!"
But if ever men were ready, then our followers were that day,
And I never saw them fitter, or so eager for the fray.

The Bungtown boys were favourites, for they hadn't lost a game,
But the team we represented were never known to fame.
The match was down for half-past two, and the Bruisers took the field
Just as fit as hands could make them to to none prepared to yield.

We were later out than usual, and the mod commenced to howl,
But our skipper said: "Oh, curse them!  Just let the ____ growl!"
Still, we didn't keep them waitin' -- soon the battle had begun,
And a shout went up around us, as away the leather spun.

They rush it up the centre, and their forwards beat out backs,
And the mob went mad with shouting: "You will line these ___ 'acks!"
Then the goals they came in showers, and our fellows seemed outdone.
As we finished up the quarter with them twenty points to none.

Then we had the wind behind us, but 'twas all the same to them,
For they waltzed around us, and their pace we couldn't stem.
But just before the cowbell, "Ginger" sent the leather through,
And we parted for refreshments with their score at eight to two.

Then our captain held a council -- such a thing we'd never had,
And he told us not to blame him if the ___ "did us bad."
But we took the matter kindly, and we made a solemn vow
That we'd do or die this quarter, and we'd win this game somehow.

The umpire blew his whistle -- we had changed our ruck this time --
And our friends began to cheer us as we bounded o'er the line.
We hadn't gone ten minutes ere we'd much reduced the score,
And it looked as though we'd catch them -- but we wanted two goals more.

They said, "Any odds, the Bruisers," when we faced the final duel,
And the mob was "pokin' mullock" as we lined up for our gruel.
"Scooter" thought he'd change his tactics, and he said to "Mike" Malone:
"Take a turn at playin' forward, and let 'Boshter' Kirton roam!"

But disaster seemed to dog us, and they'd made another goal
Before we'd time to check them, and they had us in a hole.
Then O'Malley got the leather, and he passed it on to "Mick,"
And a shout went up like thunder as our hero did the trick.

We were now six points behind them -- and with twenty minutes played,
"Scooter" shot it on to "Ginger," and another point was made.
Our jokers played like demons, but the pace began to tell,
And as our forwards kicked out wide we thought we hard the bell.

But 'twas our imagination -- we'd a minute more to play --
So we knew 'twas now or never, though they kept us well at bay.
M'Lusky for the Bruisers was then seem to make a bound,
And he collared "Mike" Maloney, and he swung him round and round.

The umpire brought the leather back, and awarded a free kick,
And you could have heard a pin drop as he gave the ball to "Mick."
Just then the cowbell sounded, and full eighty yards, 'twas seen,
Lay the goal from "Mike" Maloney -- and it had to go between.

He put it down upon the ground, and walked back half-a-mile.
And our Skipper whispered: "Michael! now you're fairly on your trial!"
"Mike" took his run -- and rooted -- like a bird the leather flew --
And the roar that shook the rafters showed we'd beat the Bungtown crew.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 27 August 1908

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem 

At the Football Match: Last Saturday by Edward Dyson

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("From the first bounce of the ball, it was evident that ardent spirits on both sides had entered the field determined to play the men, and not the ball."..."Tripping and shoving behind were the chief features of the first quarter."..."Up to this stage, two players had been rendered useless."..."He made a dash forward, and was downed by Martin, of Essendon. Hugh Purse rushed up and struck Martin. In a twinkling a dozen players were punching one another...Nolan rished wildly down on the mob, and lunged at the nearest Essendonian...Nolan and Martin came to blows...A score of players bunched and fought viciously...Parkinson received a punch in the face from Nolan's fist...Again Nolan's fist was in the way, and down went Stevenson. A couple of trainers spent the next few minutes in reviving him...Nolan sent Busbridge spinning." Pleasant extracts from the "Age's" account of Essendon v. Melbourne.)
Begob, it was a lovely game, a game iv blood an' hair,
Wid a trifle iv torn whiskers an' an eyelid here an' there,
And iv all th' darlin' bla'guards that was afther raisin' cain
There was niver one like Nolan. Whoop for Oireland once again!
      Yer a jooel, Mister Nolan,
      Yer a bhoy there's no conthrolin',
And when Erin wants a Saviour, sure we'll send our noble Nolan.

When the foight was at its hottest how he charged th' writhin' mob,
He whirled his fists, and yelled "Whooroo!" and punched 'em in the gob,
The riots Home in belfast they was nothin' worth a word
To th' lovely dose of throuble that on saturday occurred
      When the splendid hero, Nolan,
      Sent the other divils rollin',
And all Essendon was crippled by our lovely fightin' Nolan.

Poor parkinson was waitin', an' he got it in the jaw,
And for anything that followed, 'sor, he didn't give a sthraw.
On the ground th' bye was lyin' wid his eyes up to the sun,
While his conqueror was layin' out the others one by one --
      Was the dashin' Mister Nolan.
      It was bowls and he was bowlin',
Wid th' bodies of his rivals, was th' harum scarum Nolan.

He jammed th' ball down Martin's throat, he did upon me soul,
And then he shwore the umpire blind he thought it was the goal;
He whirled the players cross th' field like feather in th' breeze,
He punched them wid his bunch of fives, he dug 'em wid his knees,
      Did that playful divil Nolan.
      Och! his style is so cajolin',
Ye must have a heart of iron if ye're not in love wid Nolan.

At th' finish he was thereabout, his heart so full of fun
That th' umpire couldn't shtop him wid a poleaxe or a gun,
An' when he'd filled th' Hos-pit-al wid players that was there,
He yelled: "Bring in all Essendon, its Council and its 'Mare!'
      For I'll whip them all," said Nolan.
      He's a bhoy there's no conthrollin',
And when Ireland's wantin' Home Rle, begob! we'll send her fightin' Nolan!

First published in Melbourne Punch, 22 August 1907;
and later in
The Great Australian Book of Football Stories edited by Garrie Hutchinson,  1989.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

A Friendly Game of Football by Edward Dyson

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We were challenged by The Dingoes -- they're the pride of Squatter's Gap --
To a friendly game of football on the flat by Devil's Trap.
And we went along on horses, sworn to triumph in the game,
For the honour of Gyp's Diggings, and the glory of the same.

And we took the challenge with us. It was beautiful to see,
With its lovely, curly letters, and its pretty filagree.
It was very gently worded, and it made us all feel good,
For it breathed the sweetest sentiments of peace and brotherhood.

We had Chang, and Trucker Hogan, and the man who licked The Plug,
Also Heggarty, and Hoolahan, and Peter Scott, the pug;
And we wore our knuckle-dusters, and we took a keg on tap
To our friendly game of football with The Dingoes at The Gap.

All the fellows came to meet us, and we spoke like brothers dear.
They'd a tip-dray full of tucker, and a waggon load of beer,
And some lint done up in bundles; so we reckoned there'd be fun
Ere our friendly game of football with the Dingo Club was done.

Their umpire was a homely man, a stranger to the push,
With a sweet, deceitful calmness, and a flavour of the bush.
He declared he didn't know the game, but promised on his oath
To see fair and square between the teams, or paralyse them both.

Then we bounced the ball and started, and for twenty minutes quite
We observed a proper courtesy and a heavenly sense of right,
But Fitzpatrick tipped McDougal in a handy patch of mud,
And the hero rose up, chewing dirt, and famishing for blood.

Simple Simonsen, the umpire, sorted out the happy pair,
And he found a pitch to suit them, and we left them fighting there;
But The Conqueror and Cop-Out met with cries of rage and pain,
And wild horses couldn't part those ancient enemies again.

So the umpire dragged them from the ruck, and pegged them off a patch,
And then gave his best attention to the slugging and the match.
You could hardly wish to come across a fairer-minded chap
For a friendly game of football than that umpire at The Gap.

In a while young Smith, and Henty, and Blue Ben, and Dick, and Blake,
Chose their partners from The Dingoes, and went pounding for the cake.
Timmy Hogan hit the umpire, and was promptly put to bed
'Neath the ammunition waggon, with a bolus on his head.

Feeling lonely-like, Magee took on a local star named Bent,
And four others started fighting to avoid an argument:
So Simonsen postponed the game, for fear some slight mishap
Might disturb the pleasant feeling then prevailing at The Gap.

Sixty seconds later twenty lively couples held the floor,
And the air was full of whiskers, and the grass was tinged with gore,
And the umpire kept good order in the interests of peace,
Whilst the people, to oblige him, sat severely on the p'lice.

Well, we fought the friendly game out, but I couldn't say who won;
We were all stretched out on shutters when the glorious day was done;
Both the constables had vanished; one was carried off to bunk,
And the umpire was exhausted, and the populace was drunk.

But we've written out a paper, with good Father Feeley's aid,
Breathing brotherly affection; and the challenge is conveyed
To the Dingo Club at Squatter's, and another friendly game
Will eventuate at this end, on the flat below the claim.

We have pressed The Gap to bring their central umpire if they can --
Here we honestly admire him as a fair and decent man --
And we're building on a pleasant time beside the Phoenix slums,
For The Giant feels he's got a call to plug him if he comes.

First published in The Bulletin, 5 September 1896;
and later in
Rhymes From the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
The Western Argus, 4 February 1897;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Witchery by Will H. Ogilvie

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Rich bay with a star on the face
   And white on the off hind-foot,
With a beautiful temper and plenty of pace,
   And keen as a hawk to boot,
With a shoulder as clean as a stag's,
   And loins that would carry a ton,
There's nothing so kindly goes down to the flags
   As Witchery -- fourteen-one !

She's a wonder at getting away,
   And, give her a length on the grass,
They can bid a good-day to the swift little bay,
   For there's nothing can catch her or pass;
She fights for her head to the ball,
   For the ponies are fond of the fun,
And, oh! but she loves to be leading them all,
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

Do I touch her at times with the spur?
   It is little my beauty will care,
And the blood on her mouth does not matter to her
   She has plenty of "blood" and to spare!
And the ladies will pet her and praise
   When the last merry quarter is done,
And she likes it -- I don't care what anyone says  --
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

A barbarous sport? Well, I yield!
   But if this be a crime, let us sin;
For the goal flags are flying, the crowd's on the field,
   And the ponies are mad to begin.
Savages? Yes, if you like!
   But the musical mallet's begun
And she's biting the bit to get down for a strike
   Is Witchery -- fourteen-one!

Girth up, and ride out to the fray!
   For our foemen in crimson and white,
They are demons to play and they mean it to-day;
   We shall have to hit hard and sit tight.
And we've got to take risks of our own
  When the coin has been spoken and spun,
And the hard knocks, remember, are not all alone
   For Witchery --- fourteen-one!

First published
in The Bulletin, 13 May 1899

Note: the poem was originally published with the illustration shown here.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Trumper by Victor Daley

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"Trumper is an artist. Some day someone will paint his portrait; it will be hung in a National Portrait Gallery; he will he dressed in white, with his splendid neck bared to the wind, standing on short green grass against a blue sky; he will be waiting for the ball, the orchestra to strike up." - Mrs. C. B. Fry in an English periodical.

Ho Statesmen, Patriots, Bards make way!
   Your fame has sunk to zero:
For Victor Trumpet is to-day
   Our one Australian Hero.

High purpose glitters in his eye,
   He scorns the filthy dollar;
His splendid neck, says Mrs. Fry,
   Is innocent of collar.

He stands upon the short green grass,
   Superb, and seems to be now
A nobler young Leonidas
   At our Thermopylae now.

Is there not, haply, in the land
   Some native-born Murillo
To paint, in colors rich and grand.
   This Wielder of the Willow?

Nay, rather let a statue be
   Erected his renown to,
That future citizens might see
   The gods their sires bowed down to.

Happy the man who while alive
   Obtains his meed of glory!
His name for seasons will survive
   In fable, song and story.

Evoe Trumper! As for me
   It all ends with the moral
That Fame grows on the Willow Tree
   And no more on the Laurel.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 March 1904

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Note: the subject of this poem is, of course, Victor Trumper, the great Australian Test batsman.

The Ashes by Max A.

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It is over; the rubber's decided;
   The ashes are here.
Old England with fate has collided,
   And tumbled down sheer.
For the sake of the hard course she guided
   Let's give her a cheer.

In the wet when we sarted to trundle,
   And bowled in the mud,
What wonder her team "dropped its bundle"
   With a desperate thud?
Yet this luckless last match wasn't won till
   Our batsmen showed blood.

There are two most successful Australians
    Who played once and again --
Two foes to all strangers and aliens,
   Two givers of Pain,
Whose deeds shine with wonderful salience --
   The Sun and the Rain.

On the Adelaide ground with the heat at
   A hundred and ten,
The climate ('ts well to repeat it)
   Fought hard for us then;
Then in Melbourne the rain flung defeat at
   Those sorrowing men.

It wasn't her best England lent us --
   But we're glad that thye came;
For the fact that we beat em has lent us
   More love for the game;
They have taught us enough to content us
   With our cricketing fame.

The Ashes are ours; safe on dry land
   We'll keep them with care;
Till a team will set sail from this spry land,
   With its tail in the air,
To cross to the foggy old island
   And fight for them there,

First published in Melbourne Punch, 13 February 1908

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site:

See also.

Cricket is a Serious Thing by "Dido" (Edward Dyson)

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The Argus reports cricket matches at far greater length and with a gravity it never quite attains in dealing with any other matter on earth.

In politics there's room for jest;
   With frequent gibes are speeches met,
And measures which are of the best
   Are themes for caustic humor yet.
   E'en though the pulpiteer we fret
With sundry quiddities we fling,
   We pray you never to forget
That cricket is a serious thing.

The crowd assembles at a Test,
   And Hobbs at length is fairly set,
Though Gregory rocks 'em in with zest;
   The barrackers may fume and fret
   When Parkin has contrived to get
Five men of ours - we feel the sting,
  And give expression to regret,
For cricket is a serious thing.

They have the lead; we would arrest
   A sort of rot.  No epithet
Is proper, though they've got our best
   For next to nothing, and your bet
   Is good as lost.  Don't sit and sweat;
Due reverence to the problem bring.
   We have a pile of runs to net -
Ah, cricket is a serious thing.

We have to meet a heavy debt,
   And Howell makes the leather swing;
Australia's pride is sore beset -
   Yea, cricket is a serious thing!

First published in The Bulletin, 27 January 1921

Author: Edward Dyson (1865-1931)  was born near Ballarat, Victoria into a family that would also produce the artist Ambrose Dyson, and the writer and artist Will Dyson. Dyson was a very prolific poetry and short story writer, utilising his early life in the Victorian goldfields and on the road with his father to great effect.  Struck down by a bout of encephalitis after the 1919 influenza pandemic he went into decline and died in 1931.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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