Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club

No Lives Lost at Bondi Beach

1950s – A Blast From the Past

Jan 19, 2017

For those who do not know me, my name is Ken Davidson. I joined the Club in approximately 1952, at age 15, and did my Bronze in 1954. My club activities were many, including patrol captain, B grade swimmer (middle of field), beach events, boxing (best boxer for two years), and teaching Bronze squads. I represented the Club at beach football and played lower grade rugby with Easts and Randwick. Some of my team mates were Van, John Wallington and Strawb Wright.
Being a strong but average swimmer, I linked up with Bondi Water Polo Club and worked my way up to their first grade ‘B’ team. Some players were Col Smee, Croppo Roney, Don Sarkies and other good State quality swimmers. The first grade ‘A’ team had three Olympians, a Hungarian Olympian as well as our own Bill Jones.
After two years with the first grade ‘B’ team, we made the semis twice. When my final accountancy exams were approaching, I was asked to captain/coach their third grade team – commonly known as the Socials. The team was made up from a mixture of Bondi and North Bondi Surf Club members. Members from Bondi were Ray Cook, Jock Kavanough, Barry Toohey, Les Hawkins, Paul Fitzgerald, Ron Murphy, Bill Deveral (when dental studies permitted), and from Norths were John Nurmi, Keith Snell and the Fat Thief. Terry Frost was goalie.
The team initially came last or second last each year. After each game, the team would immediately adjourn to The Oak at Double Bay to down four or five schooners (each) and discuss their water polo achievements, goals missed, and who had been sent out of the water for foul play etc. A regular occurrence for the team was to partake in a Friday night keg behind Bondi Gold Club or Nielsen Park. After two years of serious first grade, this team was a challenge. I talked them into training twice a week including Saturday afternoons, after which we would spend the balance of the arvo at The Oak at Double Bay to discuss our improvements. The training/coaching paid off and we were Minor Premiers, only just beaten in the semis by the eventual winners. The Hungarian International referred to above was most intrigued by the team, how happy they were and the amount of grog they consumed. This was a most enjoyable season for me. My final season was at Bronte, who had the three Thornetts – Dick See, and other Hungarians who had defected.
After raising 5 children in the Sutherland Shire, I made a comeback to fitness commencing with aquathons and then triathlons. My eldest boy, Paul, and I combined to win the Father/Son Australian Title at Wagga Wagga and competed against Cyril Baldock and his son at Bundeena, where we were runners up. We progressed from there to competing all over NSW and Queensland and were selected for the Australian Team to compete in Mexico. Jock Kavanough was a marvellous competitor and hard to beat. Alan Merit and I teamed up in the Board Rescue in the World Titles in Germany, competing for Cronulla Club, where we placed second. Alan is another marvellous competitor and Bondi should be proud of his achievements.
In closing, I must say that my time in Bondi was most enjoyable and provided a sound foundation for me. Many of my good friends including Van, Dudley, Hutcho, Les, Basil, Mac, Aub, Mick Pierce, Pat Toolan, and Wallo have gone to heaven. I trust the waves up there are as good as Bondi. I am now in my 80th year and I owe a lot to Bondi SBLSC. I hope to attend the next Seniors’ Lunch this December.
Ken Davidson.
1950s – A Blast From the Past

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