Memory Lane BY ROSS PEDDLESDEN
You know the bridge. You may even know of the pavilion at Salter Oval. But do you know the man behind the namesake? Don Tallon was one of Bundaberg’s most successful sporting exports.
The best wicketkeeper of his generation, a much-loved member of the national side and a member of the best cricket team of all time – there’s a lot for Bundy to be proud of in the tall skinny frame of Don Tallon.
Don Tallon was born in Bundaberg in 1916 and was something of a cricketing prodigy. He played his first representative game at the age of 16 when he played for Queensland Country against the touring England team, pulling off the stumping of renowned opener Herbert Sutcliffe in the process. He quickly progressed to the Queensland side and his first match for his state was at the age of 17 in December 1933. He’d never even seen a first-class match before he played in one.
Tallon played for his state for the rest of the ‘30s, and was considered extremely unlucky to miss selection in the 1938 team to tour England. His non-selection was controversial at the time, but it meant that he had to wait until after the war to represent his country.
That chance came at the relatively late age of 30 in 1946 in a test against New Zealand in Wellington, and he quickly established himself as the first-choice keeper for the national side.
But all of this was just a lead up to the highlight of his career – the so-called ‘Invincibles’ tour of England in 1948. Plenty has been said of this team of champions, led by Donald Bradman, but Tallon was by no means out of place in the team. The team won every game it played in a long tour of the mother country.
After his return from the Invincibles tour he retired during the 1953 Sheffield Shield season and returned to Bundaberg, where he played local cricket for another decade.
In retirement Don Tallon lived quietly in Bundaberg, sometimes helping younger brother Mat in the family corner store. He died of heart disease in 1984, a decade before the opening of the new bridge named in his honour.
Unfortunately, there is no local exhibition commemorating the life and career of Don Tallon and his family. Anyone with photographs or memorabilia should contact Chris Spence at the Bundaberg & District Historical Museum in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. 07 4152 0101
Invincibles Team, 1948. Captain Don Bradman, centre front. Don Tallon, back row second from right.