The Club is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Gordon District Cricket Club legend Dick (Roley) Guy last week. Dick’s contribution to the Club and, indeed, to cricket in general, for so many years, both on and off the field, was amazing. He was a great leader, a fierce competitor, strongly opinionated at times, a terrific bowler and a top guy to have a beer with after a game. His knowledge and understanding of the game was immense and he was always willing to share his views about cricket.
Dick watching a Gordon match against Northern Districts in 2017
Dick was a right arm leg spin bowler who came in off a slightly longer run up than most spinners. He had uncanny accuracy, a good top spinner and the ability to bowl long, probing spells. Dick began his career at Gordon in Fourth Grade in the 1953-54 season at the age of 16, where he took 31 wickets.
The following season, again in Fourth Grade, he finished with 60 wickets – a brilliant performance! John Morrison, a team mate at the time, noted that the then Fourth Grade captain, Harry Crow, was pretty good at keeping young up and coming players in the side for the year in the hope of snaring a Premiership, which may account for why Dick remained in that Grade despite taking five wickets in an innings seven times and ten in a match once! Dick continued to do well but there was a very successful leg spin bowler in First Grade, Reg Giddey, who kept him out of the top side for a while.
He finally played a few games in First Grade in 1957-58 but didn’t secure a permanent place in the side until the 1959-60 season. And there he remained for sixteen seasons, taking 786 wickets at an average of 16.45 – the most by any Gordon bowler and more than 200 wickets ahead of the next on the list, the great Charlie Macartney! Without going into too much detail about his success, it is worth noting that he took five wickets or more in an innings 61 times in First Grade ( and another 15 times in lower grades) – an astonishing performance! He took more than 50 wickets in a season seven times and was the leading wicket taker in Sydney five times.
In 1967-68 he took an incredible 91 wickets (in that season he was the Daily Telegraph First Grade Player of the Year). In all for the Club he took 999 wickets (when asked whether he regretted not having taken 1000 he replied that no, it was more likely that people would remember 999!).
With stats like these, one would imagine he should have played a great deal of first class cricket. However, the NSW team of the 60s was very strong and tough to break into. In his first game for a NSW team, in the 1960-61 season, there were seven Test players! There were also another four wrist spinners who represented NSW that season (including Richie Benaud and Peter Philpott) which made it very competitive. In all, he played eight first class games for NSW between 1960 and 1969 (many would say not nearly enough!) - seven Sheffield Shield games and one game against a touring West Indies team – and took 25 wickets at 27.88.
Dick’s career coincided with that of another Club legend – Brian Taber – with whom he shared many a good time.
Brian Taber with Dick at Chatswood (with marshal Rosen in background)
In one of Dick’s appearances for NSW where he took six wickets for the game, Brian contributed to five of them (two catches and three stumpings) which must have given both men immense satisfaction.
Dick began his First Grade career under another great Gordon man, Sid Carroll, before taking over the captaincy for his last nine seasons. He had the knack of being able to demand the very best of his players on the field while being conscious of the fact that cricket is a game which everyone should enjoy both on and off the field. Dick’s teams were always a very close-knit group who did a lot of socialising together. As a result, many of his team mates have remained lifelong friends. The end of play on a Saturday did not mean the end of the game. Players remained in the dressing shed after six o’clock having a relaxing beverage. Usually, after a little while, most of the opposition would also come over the Gordon shed and long-term friendships were developed between people who, not long before, had been trying to knock each other’s heads off. Dick saw this as a really important part of the game, something that, alas, has been lost today. He was also at the forefront of many social events that the Club used to organise through the season. Tuesday and Thursday nights at the conclusion of training also meant a trip across the road to the Gordon Rugby Club for a quiet beer before the drive home (you can’t do that now!). In the Toga Parties, Hawaiian and Western Nights and other social events across under the grandstand, Dick was usually a shining light.
The 12.30 Club lunches, which started with just Roley, Ken Niblett and a handful of First Graders, and developed into most festive occasions involving a number of Gordon figures as well as outstanding sports characters from all around the place, became legendary (see Tony Wilson’s tribute following). He loved the Club song that Gerry Elkan had written in the late 60s (at Dick’s suggestion) and could find any excuse to sing it with the greatest gusto. Any Gordon function usually concluded with a rendition. Few will forget his leading the song at the Club Centenary celebrations in 2005.
In 2012, a group of ‘oldies’ had a get-together at a 1st Grade T20 day at Chatswood Oval and, following a very exciting win by Gordon, they were all invited into the dressing room to sing the song. Dick was asked to lead the song, and the players, none of whom would have seen him play (some may not have ever heard of him!), were amazed and impressed by the energy he exuded. It was also wonderful to see Dick meeting Gordon’s English import (and now English Test player!) Mason Crane at a game at Chatswood two years ago. A very interesting conversation ensued concerning the nuances of leg spin bowling and I think it was a real thrill for both men.
Dick’s involvement in and contribution to cricket extended well past his playing career. At Gordon, he was a member of the General Committee for 20 years, the last five as President (he was elected as a Life Member of the Club in 1969). He had, of course been a Club selector for many years as First Grade skipper. Graham King (also a selector for a long time) said that they had many ‘forthright’ discussions at meetings. But they always agreed at the end – and Dick got his way.
He was a delegate to the NSW Cricket Association for 20 years, serving on a number of committees in that time. He was a NSW selector for sixteen years (the chairman for nine of those years), on the NSW Cricket Board for seven years and the Australian Cricket Board for six years and an Australian selector for two years (see one of his ‘highlights’ in Norm Tasker’s tribute following). He also managed the NSW 2nd XI and Colts teams for seven years, as well as taking a NSW team to Zimbabwe in 1989. He was elected a Life Member of the NSW Cricket Association in 1981 for “… a truly noteworthy career in cricket administration”.
These few words don’t do justice to Dick Guy’s contribution to the Club and to NSW Cricket. He only played for one Club. His influence on the culture of the GDCC was immeasurable and all who played with him and under him will remember the determination and passion he had for the Club’s success. He had his own ideas and beliefs about things and was never afraid to voice those beliefs. However, they were always in the interests of the GDCC.
He was so much more than just a terrific bowler. If Sid Carroll was ‘Uncle’, Dick certainly became the spiritual ‘Godfather’ of Gordon.
In the Gordon song, the chorus goes “…There’s Roley and Hedley, Brother L and PJ…” . So sad that we’ve lost one of our greats!
To Michelle and the family, the Gordon District Cricket Club sends its most sincere condolences.
Michael Falk on behalf of the GDCC