Campaign builds to name field after Aboriginal fast bowler

Queensland bowler Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on his backside during a Sheffield Shield match in 1931.
Queensland bowler Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on his backside during a Sheffield Shield match in 1931. Contributed

THE campaign to name a Wacol cricket field after Aboriginal fast bowler Eddie Gilbert is gaining momentum.

The push, initiated by Goodna identity Keiron Butler and Cr Paul Tully last year with the support of many local residents, now has bi-partisan support.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk is now backing the move to have the field at the old Wolston Park Mental Hospital named the Eddie Gilbert Memorial Field.

"I'd like to publicly recognise and support Keiron Butler's idea to name the local cricket field at Wolston Park after the great Eddie Gilbert," she said.

"The field is close to where Eddie spent his final days, and would be a fitting tribute to him.

Mark Cryle: Eddie Gilbert's Dream ...

"I would urge the government to expedite this request and make it happen. Our region has been home to many great sporting stars, and we need to honour them.

"As one of our earliest star Indigenous athletes, Eddie's place in our history is already assured. But this tribute would leave a lasting legacy."

Gilbert died at the Wolston Park hospital in 1978 at the age of 72 and would watch games being played on the field in his latter years.

Gilbert took 87 wickets in 23 first-class matches for Queensland at an average of 29.98, but those statistics don't tell the story of the hoops he had to jump through to achieve them.

TRIBUTE SOUGHT: Keiron Butler looks over the Wolston Park Centenary Cricket Club grounds.
TRIBUTE SOUGHT: Keiron Butler looks over the Wolston Park Centenary Cricket Club grounds. Claudia Baxter

Author Colin Tatz, who wrote Black Gold and Obstacle Race: Aborigines in Sport, says Gilbert "came to cricketing fame amidst the most fantastic obstacles".

He lived at Cherbourg's Barambah Aboriginal mission under the repressive 1897 Protection of Aboriginals Act.

"Eddie was basically locked up, as all Aborigines were on reserves or missions," Mr Tatz said.

"Out of these impossible conditions he learns to play cricket and in 1930 he was good enough to play for Queensland, which is notoriously racist.

"It was not just his triumph over opponents, but his triumph over his whole life circumstance that was so remarkable."

In 1931, while representing Queensland, the Aboriginal speedster famously knocked the bat out of Don Bradman's hands before dismissing him for a third-ball duck.

Bradman later said of Gilbert's bowling that his deliveries were "faster than anything seen from Harold Larwood or anyone else".

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has already expressed his support for the renaming of the oval.

Topics:  eddie gilbert keiron butler

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