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Eddie Gilbert honoured after two-year campaign

LEGEND: Eddie Gilbert.
LEGEND: Eddie Gilbert. Contributed

THE late Eddie Gilbert and his family have had a big win.

The QT can reveal that the cricket field near Wolston Park's mental health centre will be renamed after the legendary Aboriginal fast bowler following a two-year campaign by a group of Ipswich citizens.

Gilbert, who took 87 wickets in 23 first-class matches for Queensland at an average of 29.98, died at the old Wolston Park Mental Hospital in 1978 at the age of 72.

Goodna's Keiron Butler has been the prime mover behind the push for the naming of 'Eddie Gilbert Memorial Field' and thanked the Queensland Police Service, which owns the land, for agreeing to the petition by locals.

"A representative of the Queensland Police Service rang me to say it has been officially approved and is definitely a goer," Mr Butler said.

"They have already spoken to Eddie's family up in Cherbourg and they are going to bring them down in buses. The police want to make it pretty big.

"Paul Tully backed us, and the QT and Donald Johannessen on ABC radio have been the main driving forces behind it."

Singer/songwriter Dermot Dorgan wrote a moving song about Gilbert and Mr Butler said he had invited the musician to sing it when the official ceremony to honour Gilbert is held.

Mr Butler said honouring Gilbert would unite the community.

"I think it is great. It is finally bringing people together, which is something Australia needs.

"We want to get all the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people there to celebrate a man who was ostracised for so many years. It is a good thing for our relationship with the people that truly own this land."

While representing Queensland in a Sheffield Shield match, Gilbert 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".

Those who saw both Gilbert and Australian speedster Jeff Thomson bowl, including late ABC commentator Alan McGilvray, say there is no doubt Gilbert was the fastest of the pair.

Author Colin Tatz, who wrote Black Gold and Obstacle Race: Aborigines in Sport, previously told the QT about the hardships Gilbert overcame.

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

"He couldn't vote; he couldn't drink; and he couldn't get married to a non-Aboriginal person or join a trade union. Out of these impossible conditions he learns to play cricket, and in 1930 for Queensland."

Topics:  eddie gilbert keiron butler



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