SCG SPORTS SCULPTURES
Eternal tributes to history making heroes
The Basil Sellers Sports Sculptures Project is one of the most popular attractions within the SCG precinct.
Sydney businessman and philanthropist Basil Sellers had a vision to immortalise various sporting icons who have captured our hearts and minds through their endeavours within the Trust's two mighty sporting arena's.
The Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium now play home to 11 life-sized bronze sculptures representing our sporting greats and the realisation of Basil Sellers' dream.
An additional three sculptures were commissioned by the SCG Trust and a small group of Trustees.
The 14 sculptures have been beautifully crafted by renowned NSW artists Cathy Weiszmann and Terrance Plowright and always strike a reaction from their various locations within the SCG precinct.
Trevor Allan made his rugby union debut for NSW in 1946, aged 19.
Later that year, he made his Test debut against the All Blacks – the first of 14 Tests and 52 appearances for Australia.
During the 1947-48 Wallaby tour of the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, Trevor excelled and assumed the captaincy shortly after the tour began. At 21 he was the youngest player in the squad and a non-serviceman leading the team made up of servicemen from the war. His authority was based on respect from his teammates as the finest player in the side.
In 1949, Trevor led the Wallabies to a celebrated Bledisloe Cup series victory over the All Blacks – a win that was not repeated for 30 years.
Allan’s talent was clearly extraordinary. Rugby League clubs in Australia and England sought his signature: Trevor was a game breaker.
England in that era was a powerhouse compared to Australia and Allan accepted an offer from the Leigh club in Lancashire. The sum paid was then the largest in the history of rugby league.
Between 1950 and 1954, Allan scored 52 tries in 97 appearances in the UK.
When he returned to Australia he joined the North Sydney Bears, but retired after a succession of debilitating injuries, turning to coaching duties in 1957 and 1958.
Allan commenced his ABC TV commentary duties in 1959 for the SCG Rugby League Match of the Day. In 1970 he moved and began calling rugby union.
Richie Benaud was the first subject in the Basil Sellers Sports Sculptures Project.
The much loved all rounder with iconic status was a walk-up start to be included after his long association with the SCG and his immense contribution to Australian and NSW cricket as a player, commentator and journalist.
Benaud made his first-class debut for NSW against Queensland at the SCG in 1948-49, eight years
after his father Lou took him by steam train and toast-rack tram to the SCG to watch the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and South Australia in 1940.
He made his Test debut against the West Indies, also at the SCG, in 1951-52. He played his last Test match at the SCG in 1964 against South Africa.
Benaud was an outstanding all rounder who was unplayable on his day, noted for his wily and probing leg spin bowling. As a captain of Australia there have been few as good, none better.
Australia did not lose a series under his leadership.
Ken Catchpole rose into the first-grade ranks as a teenager with the Randwick Rugby Club in 1959.
During that year and at the young age of 19 he made the first of 26 appearances for NSW against Queensland. Two years later, Catchpole made his debut as captain of the Wallabies against Fiji in Brisbane, scoring one of Australia’s six tries in the 24-6 victory.
Catchpole became a permanent member of the Australian team and formed a match-winning partnership with Phil Hawthorne. It was after the Test match against England during the 1966/67 Wallaby Tour that the President of the Rugby Football Union described him as “the greatest halfback the world has known”.
Catchpole delivered three styles of precise halfback passing: accurate, bullet-like passes which provided
the receiver with extra time and space to launch an attack and when necessary, spin and dive passing.
The world-renowned playmaker featured in 27 Tests for Australia and captained his country on 13 occasions. His international career came to an unfortunate end when he suffered a severe groin muscle injury after an All Blacks forward wrenched his leg when pinned in a ruck at the SCG in 1968.
Catchpole made a comeback with Randwick and led the Galloping Greens to success in the 1971 Grand Final – one of five premierships he won with the cub.
In retirement, Cathchpole became an ABC rugby commentator. He served with distinction as Vice President
of the NSW Rugby Union, and was elected President in 2006 and 2007.
Betty Cuthbert is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest track athletes of all time.
Born in 1938, Cuthbert (above left) competed for the local Western Suburbs Athletics Club and Cumberland Women’s
Best known as Australia’s ‘Golden Girl’, she is the only female athlete to win the 100 metres, 200 metres
and 400 metres at the Olympic Games and remains the youngest 200 metre gold medallist in Olympic history.
Cuthbert set 18 world records in distances from 60 metres to 400 metres and also over three different relay distances during her career. Six of those world records were set at the former Sydney Sports Ground.
Following her retirement, Cuthbert lived with multiple sclerosis for 48 years. She felt signs of the disease just a few years after she won gold in 1964 and was diagnosed with MS in 1969.
The Betty Cuthbert sculpture was donated by SCG Trustees, Alan Jones, Rod McGeoch, Katie Page and Anthony Shepherd.
Reg Gasnier was renowned for his acceleration, a deceptive swerve and attacking vision.
Gasnier was a try scoring machine with an astonishing strike rate. In 127 games of rugby league for St George, he crossed for 130 tries. In 39 Tests for Australia, he scored 28 tries. He was regarded as the 'Prince of Centres'.
After winning junior state representative honours in rugby league and cricket Gasnier opted to pursue a career in rugby league.
In 1959 he was named in the St George first grade team at the season’s commencement. After playing only five first grade games he was chosen for NSW where he scored three tries on debut, then weeks later made his Test debut for Australia against New Zealand at the SCG.
Gasnier was appointed Australian captain in 1962 against the British Lions – the youngest ever at 23 years and 28 days.
He retired following the Kangaroo Tour of Great Britain and France in 1967-68 and soon after commenced a media career notably as the ABC TV expert commentator.
In 1985 he was chosen as one of Australia’s initial post-war 'Immortals' of Rugby League alongside Clive Churchill, John Raper and Bob Fulton.
Stephen 'Yabba' Gascoigne
Stephen 'Yabba' Gascoigne
The 'Yabba' sculpture was commissioned by the SCG Trust in 2008 as a tribute to the multitudes of spectators who have and will continue to attend the many and varied sporting events at Sydney's Home of Sport.
'Yabba' was one of the most colourful characters the Sydney Cricket Ground has ever seen and would famously stand up in the middle of a game and roar at the top of his voice, light-heartedly insulting the visiting players.
During the infamous Bodyline series of 1932-1933, 'Yabba' stood to attention and bellowed toward English cricket captain Douglas Jardine who was shooing flies away, “Hey, leave those flies alone. They’re the only bloody friends you’ve got!”
Stephen Gascoigne lived in nearby Redfern, a leisurely 20-minute stroll from the SCG, and would never miss a match.
He made a living as a rabbiteer selling rabbits in the local area. The rabbiteers would wear a green apron from which they would hang their rabbits.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs National Rugby League team adopted the colours of the blood-red spoiled green aprons.
Paul Kelly was born and raised in Wagga Wagga in southern NSW and played rugby league in his early years before switching to Australian Rules Football at the age of 15.
Kelly found his niche in AFL and soon after joined the Swans in 1990. He retired 13 seasons later as
a decorated Swans legend.
In 234 games he kicked 200 goals and after being appointed captain in 1993 he skippered the Swans in a club record 182 matches over 10 consecutive seasons.
Known as ‘Captain Courageous’ – a nickname given to him for so often triumphing over injury and inspiring the Swans to success – Kelly was widely regarded as a skilful, fearful and indefatigable player.
Paul Kelly was voted the Bob Skilton Medallist in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997 as the Swans best player. He earned All Australia selection in 1995, 1996 and 1997, the latter two years as captain, before winning the coveted Brownlow Medal for the AFL’s Best and Fairest player in 1995.
Kelly won the AFL Players Association’s Robert Rose Award for Most Courageous Player in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2000.
In retirement the honours continued being named vice-captain in the Swans Team of the Century
and inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2007.
Marlene Mathews established six world records and bagged a string of medals at the highest level throughout her athletics career.
The lightning quick youngster first hit the headlines as a 16-year-old sprinter competing for the Western Suburbs Athletics Club.
Mathews (above right) represented Australia from 1950 to 1961 and competed at two Olympic Games, two Commonwealth Games and a Centenary Games.
She won two gold medals and a silver medal at the 1954 Empire (Commonwealth) Games in Vancouver and two bronze medals at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Mathews quickly became a home town favourite and set an incredible five world records at the Sydney Sports Ground track.
Following retirement, Mathews maintained a strong interest in athletics turning her hand to coaching and administration with the Australian Track and Field Coaches Association, Australian Olympic Team, NSW Amateur Athletics Association and the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust.
The Marlene Mathews sculpture was donated by SCG Trustees Alan Jones, Rod McGeoch, Katie Page, and Anthony Shepherd.
The legendary Dally Messenger was regarded at every turn as Australia's premier footballer in both rugby union and rugby league.
Messenger commenced his football career playing rugby union at five-eighth with Eastern Suburbs in 1905. He switched to play centre a year later and from there dominated the game.
His powerful running, attacking unpredictability and strong defence earned him Wallaby selection in two Tests against New Zealand in 1907.
Messenger's eminence caused the approach by a consortium led by Victor Trumper, the leading cricketer of
the time, to play professionally in the newly formed game of rugby league.
It was Messenger’s decision to sign a professional contract to play rugby league and tour England with the New Zealand 'All Golds' in 1907-08 which was a key to the successful establishment of rugby league in Australia in 1908 – a legacy which continues over 100 years later.
Messenger joined the Eastern Suburbs in 1908 and led the club to three successive premierships in 1911, 1912 and 1913.
While Messenger was regarded as 'The Master' in rugby league, he was a gifted sports all-rounder. Beside his rugby league and rugby union brilliance, Messenger was offered contracts to play soccer in England, was an outstanding swimmer and rower in his youth and contemplated a boxing career.
In a cricket game at the SCG in 1910, Messenger belted a ball onto the Members Pavilion roof, narrowly missing the famous clock tower – one of a few batsmen who have ever come close to striking the clock.
Paul Roos joined the Sydney Swans in 1995 after a long and decorated playing career with Fitzroy.
His career began for Fitzroy, ironically against the Sydney Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1982. His Fitzroy career was significant amassing 269 games and kicking 270 goals. Roos was captain for two terms between 1988-1990 and 1992-1994.
After making the switch to the Sydney Swans Roos played 87 games and kicked 19 goals. He was twice chosen as an All-Australian in 1996 and 1997 and played in the 1996 Grand Final loss to North Melbourne where he was rated one of Sydney’s best.
Soon after his playing retirement in 1998, Roos turned to coaching and was named assistant coach of the Swans in 2001. He was then appointed caretaker head coach during the 2002 season following the departure of Rodney Eade and was confirmed as head coach for the 2003 season.
Under Roos' coaching the Sydney Swans qualified for every final series between 2003 and 2008. The highlight was the Sydney Swans thrilling 2005 Grand Final victory over the West Coast Eagles, ending a 72-year premiership drought and uniting Sydney in its passionate support for the Club.
Fred 'The Demon' Spofforth
Fred 'The Demon' Spofforth
Spofforth is considered Australia’s first true fast bowler and one of its greatest ever pacemen.
His nickname 'The Demon' has entered the language of cricket as the generic description for any quick who is seriously threatening.
During an 18-match Test career which spanned 10 years from 1877 to 1887, Spofforth captured 94 Test wickets at an average of 18.41. He played a total of 155 first class games taking 853 wickets at 14.95, including 9-18 for Australia against Oxford University in Oxford in 1886.
Spofforth was the first to claim a hat-trick in a Test match at the SCG in 1879 against England.
While he was considered a genuine fast bowler, Spofforth brought science into bowling. He leapt high in his delivery stride to extract extra bounce and cleverly concealed three bowling speeds which were all perfectly disguised by his action.
Playing on the seaming English wickets, Spofforth perfected the off cutter. WG Grace considered Spofforth to have been the original inventor of swing bowling.
Spofforth played his last Test at the SCG in 1887. A year later he settled in England.
Stan McCabe is celebrated as one of Australia’s finest and most imaginative batsmen prior to the Second World War.
In the SCG Test of the 1932-33 Bodyline Series, McCabe blasted 187 not out to record his maiden Test century - an innings regarded as the 'boldest innings ever played on the Sydney Cricket Ground'.
Apart from his brilliant batting, McCabe was a handy medium pace bowler and collected 36 Test wickets. A measure of his bowling ability is that he dismissed leading English batsman Wally Hammond on four occasions.
McCabe served as a member of the Australian Defence Force and later operated a sports store in George Street.
He was appointed an SCG Trustee in 1963 and served until his death in 1968.
Steve Waugh is one of Australia’s greatest ever cricketers and a captain who led by example.
His tenacity inspired team mates when the situation was dire and he stands tall in the pantheon of world cricket
across all generations.
Waugh scored 10,927 Test runs in 57 Tests for Australia also playing in 325 One Day Internationals and won two
Waugh has a deep respect for the game’s history and traditions and introduced Test numbering on player’s attire whilst championing the re-emergence of the Baggy Green cap Australian players wear.
When his future was in doubt, Waugh settled the matter at the SCG in 2003 reaching a chanceless century off the final delivery of the day when cracking off spinner Richard Dawson to the cover boundary fence. The loyal SCG crowd went into raptures.
Waugh’s sculpture features his lucky red hanky in his pocket which he used to settle his nerves at the crease. His Baggy Green cap and lucky red hanky are on display in the SCG Museum, accessible via an SCG Tour.
Born in 1943, Johnny Warren grew up in Botany playing junior football for the Botany Methodists and Earlwood
As a fifteen-year-old, Warren moved to the Canterbury-Marrickville club before joining St George in 1963 where he remained for the next 12 years, winning three NSW State League titles, one premiership and two state cups.
He went on to make his international debut for Australia against Cambodia in November 1965, in what would be the start of a remarkable Socceroos career.
Johnny Warren and the Socceroos realised their World Cup dream in 1974 and he captained his country in 27 of his total 42 matches for Australia.
Warren became a fixture in the football media working tirelessly for the ABC and SBS.
He continued to promote the game until he died in November 2004, when his life was cut short by lung cancer at the age of 61.