The Passing of Brian Matthews in June this year brings to a close an interesting period in the Club’s history.

Brian played only one season at Hampton – 1963/64 – but is well remembered as a handy 2nd and 3rd XI player who still holds the 3rd XI’s best 5th wicket partnership of 128 with John Samson.

Brian left the Club to take up an English literature teaching position at Flinders University in South Australia. He later became Professor of English at Flinders Uni and an acclaimed Australian author, penning award-winning books including:

  • A Fine and Private Place – about his childhood growing up around St Kilda.
  • The Temple Down the Road – the life and times of the MCG
  • Louisa – the life story of Henry Lawson’s mother

He also wrote the definitive biography of, arguably Australia’s best-known historian, Manning Clark, whose son Axel played in the First XI around the same time.

Brian held many international posts, including Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of Oregon (1986) and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Trento (1989). He was Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council from 1990 to 1992 and Professor of Australian Studies and Director of the Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at the University of London from 1993 to 1996.

Brian was one of a number of highly educated players who joined the Club around the same time and who later became well regarded literary and academic figures:

  • Laurie Clancy:  Professor of English at Latrobe University and one of Australia’s leading literary critics.
  • Laurie’s brother, Jack: Professor of Humanities and head of Journalism and media studies at RMIT.
  • Axel Clark:  Senior Lecturer in English at ANU and author of a biography of Henry Handel Richardson.

All of them played 1st XI cricket for the Club.

At the same time Hampton boasted five medical students in our ranks including:

  • Ken Morrison (Dr) who went on to become Queensland’s Government Chief Medical Officer
  • Garry Jennings (Dr, Professor and AO) who is still a Senior Director at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute. Garry was also head of Cardiology and Chair of Medicine of the Alfred Hospital and National CEO of the Heart Foundation.

These people admirably demonstrate the great and changing diversity in the make-up of the Club particularly during the ‘A Hampton Spring’ (1960 -1970) period as described in Jim Kenny’s great history of the Club.  Not quite the depiction of the Club implied in the title ‘There’s a bit of a Larrikin Element down there…’


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