ARDLETHAN TO PERMANENTLY CELEBRATE STAWELL GIFT WIN
The unveiling of a remarkable sculpture of Frank Bradley in Ardlethan on the weekend will permanently recognise his achievement of winning the Stawell Gift some 80 years ago, according to Nationals’ Federal Member for Riverina and Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack.
Mr McCormack was on hand at the town centre in Ardlethan on Saturday last week to join Stawell Gift President, Neil Blizzard, (whose daughter Sarah has also run in the famous race!), to unveil the sculpture of Frank Bradley who famously won the well-known Stawell Gift in 1937.
“It was an absolute delight to be in Ardlethan last weekend to join with the community in honouring Frank Bradley, who was a local hero and a remarkable athlete,” Mr McCormack said.
The unveiling of the sculpture had special significance for Mr McCormack who as a young journalist some 30 years ago wrote a feature piece on Frank Bradley’s 50th anniversary of winning the Gift.
Mr McCormack said in his speech, that the 1930s were a golden age for Riverina sport. “Bill Mohr from Wagga Wagga topped the Victorian Football League goal kicking, Eric Weissel played Rugby League for Barmedman, Cootamundra, Narrandera, Temora, and in Wagga Wagga as well as for Australia. A little bloke from Cootamundra called Donald Bradman showed he could wield the willow and Junee’s Springfield Globe won the 1939 inter-dominion. And of course Coolamon Shire produced Frank Bradley, winner of the famous Stawell Gift. Frank also had close ties with Ardlethan and Beckom, he was a true Riverina boy.
Mr McCormack told the large crowd gathered in Ardlethan’s main street, including 61 of Frank Bradley’s descendants, how during his interview with the late great runner, Frank had recounted how he downed a beer just before the big race. “It just goes to show the iconic and larrikin spirit of a Riverina farm boy mixing it with, and beating the best in the nation,” Mr McCormack said.
“It also proves that when it comes to sport there are no stopping Riverina athletes from being the best in the nation and the world.
“The sculpture, made from recycled metal material by well-known Riverina artist, Andrew Whitehead, is a magnificent work of art and will be marvelled and admired by locals and passers-by alike.
“Full credit must be given to the Advance Ardlethan committee, the Bradley family and the generosity of the local families, small businesses, Coolamon Council and community groups who rallied together to raise the $17,000 to fund this grass-roots project.
“Frank’s achievement of running and winning the Stawell Gift should be recognised and promoted and this fantastic sculpture erected in his honour, pays tribute to his story and will no doubt provide inspiration to the up and coming athletes of Ardlethan and the surrounding area.
“Well done and congratulations to all involved with this community project”.