Characters I have known Part 2
These blogs are anecdotes of characters I have known from Barker College, Roseville Junior Rugby Club, Gordon Rugby Club, Sailing and Coopers & Lybrand (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Read on.
William (Daggs) Murphy
Bill Murphy was a Barker College boy some two years ahead of me. He was classmates with Malcolm McPhee, Ian (Iccy) Sefton, Henry Little, Bob Charlie, and Harold Norman. The last two were the most notable, Bob Carlie became Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club and Harold Norman was the Norman of Harvey Norman Ltd.
Known as Daggs, Bill Murphy owned a Chevrolet Belair in the late 1950s and he was driving south across the Sydney Harbour bridge in the eastern lane. He paid his bridge toll at the northern toll gates, in those days it was two shillings and you got a ticket receipt.
He drove south across the bridge to the Southern Pylon and unfortunately hit it and bounced across onto the main bridge car lanes. He continued to the southern toll gates and advised the toll collector that he had paid at the northern end and showed the receipt as proof. We understand he was slurring his words at the time but was picked up by the police while driving in York St. (which was the street immediately off the bridge).
Next Daggs was in the police cell at Sydney Central police station and about to be interviewed by the duty sergeant. When his fingerprints were being taken he successfully wiped the prints as the police got to his little finger. This happened three times. The police sergeant said to him “You have been here before, what was the charge?”.
Daggs replied “Murdering a police sergeant”. This was about 10.30 pm on a Saturday night. Due to the necessity to clean up the blood, he was not released until 6 pm on Sunday.
Pillage at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
Daggs and his mates were known as punters or gamblers. At a Squadron Saturday evening fundraising affair for the NSW Dragon (Sailing) Association I thought it would be a good idea to invite Daggs and his mates from the Roseville Juniors Rugby Football Club to the event.
Well the night was a great success as the guests I invited donated a large sum of money to the evening. However, there was a catch. The guests took it into their own minds that they may recoup some of their gambling losses. They went to the Squadron’s trophy cabinets (which, at that time were not secured) and removed handfuls of solid silver cups and plates. They then took them down to the boatshed, placed them in a dinghy, and proceeded to row across the harbour. They reached Garden Island where they were stopped by the naval shore patrol and asked where they were going and who owned the dinghy. They replied ‘Mr. Northam’.
The following morning I had a call from Bob Slowman (a Dragon sailor and organiser of the fundraiser) who advised that the shore patrol at Garden Island had collected the trophies and the dinghy. However, an electric loud hailer was still missing and I had to get it back or my membership would be at risk. Fortunately, a flatmate at the time was Mike Strong (a Roseville Junior Football Club member) and I quizzed him about the evening. It turned out he was the guilty party and he had taken the loud hailer to the headmaster at 4 am, at Cranbrook School, and donated it to the school rowing club. It was back by 12noon.
Fast Eddy and Minnesota Fats and snooker.
One of my weaknesses of the 1960s was gambling on snooker games. We used to assemble at the Tattersall’s Club (Big Tatts) in Macquarie St. Sydney and have dinner and play snooker till all hours of a Friday night and Saturday morning. On this particular Saturday morning, I was due to play for the Gordon Rugby Club third grade versus Parramatta at 1 pm.
In the final game of the night, I was playing with Jack Hoyle, Kent Gamble, Malcolm McPhee and Daggs Murphy. It was a black ball game with the white ball at the front cushion and the black ball one inch from the end cushion. I addressed the white ball and sank the black ball into the bottom pocket. Jack Hoyle then announced, “A fault on the black ball loses the game, you have gone out of turn. Furthermore that was such a good shot you are to be penalised 7 points the next time we play”. I have not taken this well. I lost a considerable amount of money. I then challenged them to 10 games at $100 a game.
The next morning I awoke shaking with what I had challenged them the previous evening/morning. I did not have a good game at Parramatta that day but I did have a good idea regards the snooker bet. I phoned Dick Spanswick and asked where I could get snooker lessons. Dick stated that a coal miner from Newcastle had just moved to Sydney. I contacted Eddy Charlton.
I arranged to have lessons on a Saturday morning at Eddy’s place at Kingsgrove. The first lessons were to have a strait cue and then to hit the ball straight up and down the table. This was followed by practice at sinking the black ball. Three Saturdays into my lessons I was followed by my then flatmate Jack Hoyle. He burst into the room saying “You're having snooker lessons, I thought you were with a girl”. He introduced himself to Eddy and immediately proceeded to drink his beer. I then had to negotiate with Jack regarding the snooker bet and settled on allocating him 25% of the winnings.
I eventually arrived up at the Gordon Rugby Club for the snooker challenge. Eddy came with me and saw me win 8 games out of 10. Then we had a friendly game to finish. Instead of tossing for partners, I said Eddy was new to the club and should play with me. My opposition had no idea about his form. Well, the game progressed to the colours and Eddy then took his coat off and sank the rest of the table. The cat was out of the bag and a near riot took place with my winnings on the night thrown over the balcony to the bar below. Jack received his 25% take.
I then said if the team wished to recoup their money they should follow Eddy (now known as Fast Eddy and myself as Minnesota Fats After the movie starring Paul Newman and Jacky Gleeson). One such evening was at the Marrickville RSL Club. Eddy was due to play Warren Simpson. We firstly had a meal in the dining room where we consumed far too many bottles of Ben Ean Moselle. The hall where the snooker was playing was next to the dining room and by the time we arrived was full of spectators. The only places left were on top of two tables which placed us above the neon lights in the hall. It was very warm up there.
Halfway through the game, Jack Hoyle was overcome by the Ben Ean wine. It had got to him and he fell off the table into the dining room and onto a table where some 10 people were eating. The diners were very sympathetic until Jack still handling a rolled-up umbrella abused them for helping him find his feet. As he got back to where we were standing I told Jack that if he did that again we could not be responsible for his welfare. He did it again and we collected him from the hospital the next day.
Gamble does not pay off
Previously I mentioned Kent Gamble. Kent was for some time a rather small but successful winger in the Gordon Rugby Club first grade side. He retired from playing and became the coach of the first-grade side. However, during the summer in the off-season, he would work with his father, Merve a retired bookmaker who was at that time a starting price (SP) domestic bookmaker.
Merve and Kent ran a bookmaking service for old clients, pensioners, and other punters. One Saturday the inevitable happened, they were raided by the NSW Police. In those days there was a ritual, the police raided and confiscated the tickets, the operatives went to court and were charged and fined and the operatives then purchased the tickets back from the police. In that way, the winning punters were paid out and were reasonably happy.
On this occasion a reporter from the North Shore Times filed a story on the whole affair. The headline read “Gamble does not pay off”.