On the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Statue of Dally Messenger at the Sydney Football Stadium.
March 29, 2008
Master of Ceremony and leading Celebrant, Mr Rodney Cavalier,
Benefactor and Sponsor, Mr Basil Sellers,
Talented Sculptor and Artist, Ms Cathy Weiszmann,
Wise and Honorable Members of the Sydney Football Stadium Trust
Address by Dally Messenger III
Ladies and Gentlemen
There is an axiom which has come down to us from ages past. It was popularised by its inscription on the tomb of the Naval Commander Horatio Nelson – palmam qui meruit, ferat. Loosely translated it means – “let he who deserves honour be given it.”
Today my grandfather – Dally Messenger – has been honoured. On behalf of my brother Ken Messenger and my cousins and family gathered here today – I have to tell you we feel most gratified. The Messengers are proud of their place in the sporting history of this nation – in the history of Australia.
But it was not always thus.
My grandfather, a humble and unassuming man off the battlefield of play, was fully celebrated by this city in his time of achievement, but towards the end of his life suffered some cruel indignities at the hands of Rugby League officials.
In this “down” period in the history of Rugby League, when you, the followers, were taken for granted, when clubs and their traditions became playthings on a chessboard, and good and deep feelings were trodden underfoot, this too was the time when the heroes of Rugby League, Dally Messenger and others, were dishonoured. One such dishonouring occurred in the 1950’s. It was a malevolent behind-the-scenes derailing and subverting of the proposal to erect a statue of Dally Messenger in Double Bay Park.
But today is a good a day. And a symbolic day. We honour our past. We honour our beginnings. We celebrate our sport. We affirm our identity. We unveil a statue with story. A good statue in a good place.
And as we have left the short dark period of our past behind, the game of Rugby League has emerged as better to play and better to watch. It calls forth marvellous skills from the players, it demands strength, endurance, resilience, versatility, quick thinking, the will to win, and the finest forms of trickery.
The rules are refined, the rules are good. To paraphrase the original Dally Messenger, the game of Rugby League tolerates no slackers – It is on, and it stays on – from start to finish. The game we will see today from the Storm and the Roosters will be absorbing and exciting from start to finish.
What does it do for us? To quote Dr Paul Komesaroff –
. . . sport plays an important symbolic role in social life. It is the repository of the classical virtues of courage, determination, loyalty, selflessness, and the willingness to suffer pain in the quest for a higher goal. It offers an escape from the crushing burden of everyday life . . .
Dally Messenger will turn 125 on his birthday this coming April 12, 2008. As he is too old to be here and speak for himself he has delegated me to thank, first of all, everyone who has contributed to this great game in the last hundred years First of all he would like to thank team mate and best friends, Dan Frawley, Sandy Pearce, Alby Rosenfeld and salutes their dependents.
He would like send his best regards to the families of Victor Trumper, JJ. Giltinan , Harry Hoyle and their families. He would like to thank all the unsung players, youngsters’ coaches. and officials at all levels – and -, all the loyal fans who, for the last hundred years, have given to the game of Rugby League for the love of it. He would like to thank the chroniclers of history, – men like Ian Heads, David Middleton, Geoff Armstrong Sean Fagan and others. He is even a little bit proud of me but he is not overstating it. He would like to thank young Rodney Cavalier and young Basil Sellers and their collaborators for their honouring of his name and his achievements. He would like to thank his fellow artist, Cathy Weizmann for her beautiful statue.
He also sends his love and regards to all the members of the Messenger family here today.He wishes Craig Fitzgibbon especially, but also Cameron Smith all the best for tonight’s match and advises Craig to keep his eye on young Billy Slater from Melbourne who reminds him a bit of himself.
Finally he invites all of you, anytime you feel like it, to visit this statue, as often as you like. If you look up at him he will be sending you a message.
Video about Dally and the other statue – password is ESMP