On a January summers day at the Gabba, a gangly medium pace bowler lumbered in to deliver a ball in his first Sheffield Shield game. Representing South Australia at the other end of the pitch, already established as the world’s greatest batsman, a larger-than-life man waited. According to Paul Kelly, he was longer than a memory and bigger than a town. The year was 1940.
Jack Stackpoole lumbers in.
The ball pitched outside off stump, not a great delivery if you ever asked the bowler, Jack Stackpoole; but Donald Bradman mishit, flicking it to silly mid-on where Les Dixon dived forward and desperately caught the ball. The Queenslanders cheered and rose up in unison, watching as Bradman left the field, dismissed first ball for zero.
The famous catch.
That single delivery puts Stackpoole in the history books as one of only sixteen bowlers, in domestic and international cricket, to have ever sent Bradman packing for a duck. Fewer still, have dismissed the Don for a golden duck.
It’s not a bad story to be able to tell your grandchildren and though by all accounts Jack was a modest man, the tale became a family treasure. Stackpoole’s grandson Brendon has a photo of that historic catch and his cousin Sheldon, actually has the ball.
Not only was Jack Stackpoole a handy pace and spin bowler, but he also played for Sandgate in the QANFL prior to the war, beginning a long family connection with the Hawks in 1946, the year of their first premiership.
Jack had two sons, Jim and John Stackpoole. John went on to play 251 games for Sandgate and find himself a place in the Queensland AFL team of the century on the forward flank, now beside names like Dunstall and Voss. John is also a member of the Queensland Hall of Fame.
Sandgate legend John Stackpoole.
John Stackpoole takes a mark.
Jack also had a daughter Janelle, a national judo champion, who with John’s Sandgate teammate Will Forbes, had four children, among them Brendon. Will also played a number of representative games for Queensland to go with 231 games for Sandgate. Fair to say it’s a sporting family.
So there’s no doubt Sandgate PE and AFL School of Excellence teacher Brendan Forbes, has the Hawks green and red running though his veins. You’d also be hard pressed to find a family, who’s history is more closely tied with the mighty Hawks.
Brendan Forbes playing for Aspley.
Brendan ran water as a youngster and played a lot of footy at Sandgate over the years, in the footsteps of his father and uncle. At the age of 18 Forbes then went on to play at Zillmere and Aspley in the NEAFL at different stages and played for Queensland in the under 21s.
Like his uncle and grandfather, the ruck forward has the Stackpoole height and old Jack liked to come and watch his grandsons play.
“Always positive. It didn’t matter if you played well or shit, he was always pretty nice about it,” said Brendon with a chuckle.
“Mum was a little bit more honest. She was a lot more direct if you didn’t play well.”
Brendon now works closely with AFL Queensland and the Sandgate Hawks to develop and encourage kids to take part in Sangate High School’s AFL program.
“The junior guys, grade seven to grade nine . . . we don’t have the exact sports, we’ve got this athlete development program, so it’s all the best athletes, so we can try and get some soccer players and some guys from different sports to play some footy as well,” said Forbes.
Coaching is a passion of Brendan’s and he’s enjoyed spending a bit of time with players like Jack Bowes and Corey Wagner during their development. Forbes coaches under 15 school boys and is an assistant coach with the under 16 Queensland schoolboys state team this year as well.
“I like working with the kids, I think unlike most ruckman I’m a little bit more intelligent and see the game pretty well. I actually didn’t play much ruck until I was in seniors, I was always a forward or a defender,” said Brendan with a laugh.
Janelle has compiled a detailed history of the Sandgate Football Club and recalls Jack coming along to watch Brendon’s games.
“Oh yeah. Always, not occasionally. He was always there,” said Janelle. The Hawks and the league were also beneficiaries of Jack’s support; he helped out as a club administrator and worked with the tribunal for 27 years.
“He was just a staunch club supporter you know? He drove our kids around to games when we only had the one vehicle and we had three boys playing. So, you know, he was just a constant at the club,” said Janelle.
“Since I’ve been doing this research work I’ve come across men from various eras and they’d say oh yeah, Jack he always came and supported our team.
“Even when he gave up playing, he was there supporting teams in the 50s and 60s.”
It’s hard to fathom what the Sandgate Hawks would look like without the influence of this family. Their contributions to the club on and off the field are inspiring, Will Forbes was club secretary for 15 years, did some coaching then sat on the committee. After his dazzling playing career, John Stackpoole went on to umpire and only stopped at the age of 67. To think it all started with a tall medium pace bowler in the 40s.
Will Forbes attempts a mark.
It’s funny, on that fateful day not everyone was so fond of Jack as Will later found out, “Jack was a local Sandgate person back then, (and) everyone from Sandgate caught the train up to the Gabba to watch Bradman bat, so they were all shitty on the local boy for getting him out!”
It’s a fitting tale ahead of Sandgate’s ANZAC eve match against Wilston Grange, given World War II put a stop to Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia and interrupted both Stackpoole and Bradman’s careers. While we enjoy the spectacle of ANZAC eve QAFL footy, we would also do well to remember exactly what it represents.
By Sean Melrose