This Thing Can Be Done

This Thing Can Be Done

Featured Image: Bronze sculpture of F R Spofforth (‘The Demon’) at Sydney Cricket Ground

I’m inspired by the Demon. Many of you might claim I’m consumed by them? Fred Spofforth refused to accept inevitable defeat at the Oval. On 28 August 1882 England only needed a mere 85 runs to clinch the test match. The Demon famously proclaimed: ‘Boys, this thing can be done. This thing can be done’. Spofforth took match figures of 14 wickets for 90 runs and bowled Australia to an incredible[1] seven run victory in the fourth innings. The celebrated letter subsequently appeared in ‘The Times’ announcing the death of English cricket so giving rise to the iconic ‘Ashes’. A commissioned statue of the Demon now graces the Members Pavilion at the SCG. What a fabulous idea and what a fine tribute!

It’s a fact of community life that most great advances come from inspiration rather than regulation. I was forcibly reminded of this fact when attending the ‘King of the Ranges’ in May. In 2009 I was fortunate to visit the Jasper Rodeo in the picturesque Rockies of BC in Western Canada. The competition was held indoors in a multi-purpose sports hall the prime purpose of which was Ice Hockey[2]. I was impressed. In hushed reverential tones a local told us the ‘Edmonton Oilers train here’? By comparison[3] I thought the unique ambience, class of competition, enthusiastic attendance and exquisite natural beauty of the complex at Murrurundi exceeded that of Jasper. Well done Shane, Paul and cohort crew. I’m not sure who had the original idea but indeed ‘this thing could be done’.

Once upon a time I bred fast cattle and fat horses. Bill Presland reading this in the Belmore Hotel might reflect. I had delusions of grandeur in the spheres of thoroughbred racing and breeding. I enjoyed my moments in the harsh sun but eventually the time came to sell the farm and opt for more sanguine pastures. My green fingered spouse Sarah wanted to turn on the water tap without recourse to the pumps. It worked – at a price. With more time on my hands and on reflection I devoted extra time to volunteer community events. None of these were[4] either prescribed or indeed proscribed. Historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote: ‘Any event once it has happened can be made to appear inevitable’. In other words once it has happened it has happened. Is Coal Seam[5] gas inevitable?

Making things transpire by insistence and persistence rather than instruction is the key. On reflection, I can recall many community achievements which depended more on inspiration, imagination, innovation and perspiration than by decree. White Park Horse Boxes, Bill Rose Sports Complex, Junior Soccer, Scone Race Track and Research Centre, Upper Hunter Horse Festival and the Upper Hunter Village Association now known as Strathearn Village all qualify. Men’s Sheds are fast becoming a reality in the Upper Hunter. Think ‘King of the Ranges’, ‘Highland Games’ and ‘Festival of the Fleece’? The list goes on. ‘Old Bill’ of Stratford wrote: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the full leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”. In other words – get stuck in, do it now and make it count. The National Farmers’ Federation defines rural success as: ‘Vibrant local volunteer community concerned with health care, aged care, education, employment, adequate policing, public transport and committed to arranging events such as shows, gymkhanas and tennis tournaments’. Gerard Henderson recently wrote in the SMH: ‘European Culture of entitlement is mercifully absent Down Under’. Let’s keep it that way. Doesn’t sound like regulation to me? The concept of self help prevails? Perhaps I should try breeding fat cattle and fast horses next time? What do you think, Bill?

[1] I suggest extraordinary or remarkable rather than incredible. We hear too much of incredible in its loose colloquial sense.

[2] Lower case nouns here.

[3] By contrast. You are establishing the differences.

[4] Grammar: was.

[5] Lower case nouns