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Book Review
The Great Laurie Nash
Published: 1998
Pages: 379
Author: Edward Albert Wallish
Publisher: Ryan Publishing
Rating: 2.5 stars
By Archie Mac
17 May 2006


I first heard the name of Laurie Nash as a child from my grandfather. Pop used the name as a form of rhyming slang as a substitute for money. He would say; 'I am a bit short of the Laurie Nash (cash) this week'.

As an adolescent, whenever I would hear the name my ears would 'prick up' I would ask about this man whom my pop had never forgotten even as an old man - About his footy career, my father and uncles were only too happy to discuss, but when I would ask about his cricket they would only say the selectors would never give him a chance.

It was my hope that this book by 'Ned' Wallish would answer those questions.

Unfortunately the author could find nothing new except his own suppositions such as:

The abrasive personality of Nash; the fact he wore cut off sleeves, which was considered a serious faux pas in the 1930s; and the Nash competitive nature, which involved sledging.

Although these things seem fairly trivial today, there seems no other reason for the Victorian Cricket Association's reluctance to choose Nash. He was consistently the best fast bowler in Melbourne grade cricket, was a magnificent fielder and more than useful batsman. He was also a committed family man, who never smoked or drank alcohol.

What is more Laurie Nash was very successful in his two Test matches finishing with a Test bowling average of 12.60 in taking ten wickets. The mystery of his exclusion from the Australian team will have to wait for future historians.

Today not many people outside the 'Aussie Rules States' would remember Laurie Nash, and why would they? He only played in two Test Matches for Australia in the 1930s, and never player in the Sheffield Shield competition.

Laurie Nash is best remembered as one of the legends of Australian Rules Football, where he was not only a champion in the forward line, but also in the backs. What's more he played in two of the toughest positions of centre half back and centre half forward. This in Association Football parlance would be the equivalent of being not only the best striker in the competition but also the number one fullback.

'Ned' Wallish seemingly paints his subject warts and all, mentioning his failures as a coach, where he seemed to have a common trait of many naturally talented sport stars; that of not understanding the limits of other "mere mortals".

Nash was also happy to "blow his own trumpet" in a similar way to that of cricket legend Freddie Trueman, who would walk in to the oppositions changing rooms before a game and point to all of the players who's wicket he intended to claim during the match.

Laurie Nash after taking a mark (catching the football on the full) would ask the opposition player standing the mark to nominate which foot he (Nash) should kick the ball with in his attempt to score a goal. Invariably the ball would sail straight threw the middle regardless of which foot Nash used.

Nash's most famous boasting took place during a radio interview after he had retired. The interviewer asked Laurie if we would care to nominate the greatest player he had ever seen. Nash answered "As a matter of fact I happened to see him this morning". As Nash was still friends with many great players the interviewer thought that Nash must have seen this great player in the morning out and about in Melbourne, so he asked "How come this morning?"

Nash replied, "I was shaving at the time - I just happen to see the greatest player of all time every morning when I shave".

Nash was born the year Haley's Comet orbited the earth and died 76 years later the next time Haley visited the earth in 1986. This seems fitting as Laurie Nash would seemingly launch himself in to the stratosphere to pull down yet another unbelievable mark.

If you want to know what happened in between those two visits of Haley's Comet to one of her greatest sporting sons, then I can strongly recommend The Great Laurie Nash.

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