Bill Lawry and Dick Blacka: A tale of two cricket tragics

Cricket tragic: Local sporting identity Dick Blacka with a photograph taken during his recent meeting with former Australian cricket captian Bill Lawry.A tribute to cricketing legend Bill Lawry will be aired on ABC’s Grandstand program on his 80thbirthday –February 11.
Nanjing Night Net

The tribute is a poem, penned by Bega resident John Cafe, by special request after a chance meeting of Mr Lawry and local cricketidentity Dick Blacka.

Wes and Matt Fleet discovered they were painting the kitchen in Mr Lawry’s Merimbula holiday home and mentioned in passing that Mr Blacka was a big fan and had been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Cafe said Mr Lawry’s reaction was a catalyst for the tribute.

“Bill not only agreed to meet Dick,” he said.“But set aside an afternoon and hosted for him for an afternoon tea with a big spread prepared by his wife.

“It just lifted Dick’s spirits to no end.”

After the meeting, Matt asked Mr Cafe to pen the tribute to show their admiration of the cricketing icon.

However, the simple gesture quickly became something more when Mr Cafe asked his brother to look over the words.

“One of my brothersis a cricket tragic,” Mr Cafe said with a laugh.“So I asked him to referee it and we came up with this tribute.”

“It all stemmed from his generosity to Dick.”

“He took the time to encourage him through the sickness, and this is also in appreciation of everything Dick has given to local cricket.”

Mr Blacka is a life-long supporter of the local competition and is a life member of the Tathra Sea Eagles club.

It took almost 12 months of back and forth to settle on the final result, butMr Cafe’sbrother, who works as a producer for ABC in Sydney,recorded the poem with music and a backing track of cheers and commentary.

News spread through the ABC and it will be aired on February 11 to celebrate Mr Lawry’s 80thbirthday, both locally and in Sydney on the Grandstand program.

An interview with Mr Cafe and Matt Fleet will be aired before the tribute is played on Andrew Ogilvy’s Saturday morning program.

Mr Blacka, who has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment over the last two years, met with fellow cricket tragic and commentary team icon Bill Lawry at the former Australian captain’sMerimbula holiday home.

”It was very casual, it was two people together who love the game,” Mr Blacka said.

“He’s quite funny, and really down to earth.

“He’s a good bloke, there’s no doubt about it.”

The pair spent the afternoon together chatting about the rich history of the game, it’s modern day adaptations, their shared passion for fishing and even Mr Lawry’s well-known love of pidgeons.

“He did talk about pigeons, but I didn’t have much to say,” Mr Blacka said with a laugh.

“I did tell him they used to race pigeons out at Cobargo in the 1960s at the football ground before games.”

Through the afternoon Mr Blacka gained an insight into the former Australian captain’s view on the modern game.

“He was a stalwart, he stayed at the crease and took his time,” Mr Blacka said.

“It’s a completely different game to how he used to bat, he never believed they’d play shots like they do now.”

The pair are planning to catch up again soon and fish at Mr Lawry’s favourite spot at Tura Beach.

Mr Blacka played his first grade cricket game in 1970, and despite his current treatment took to the field this season in the local C Grade competition.

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