A field of dreams for Aboriginal bowler who bounced Bradman
EDDIE Gilbert enjoyed many magic moments under the blazing summer sun.
But it was at a mid-winter's ceremony in Wacol yesterday where the recognition the late Aboriginal fast bowler was so often denied in life was deservedly given.
When Gilbert's son Eddie Barney unveiled the sign that proudly says 'Eddie Gilbert Memorial Field' it was a triumph for both Eddies and a grassroots local campaign that could not be stopped.
The field is located near The Park Centre for Mental Health where Gilbert lived the later years of his life and passed away at the age of 72 in 1978.
On land owned by the Queensland Police Service, the field will forever remember Gilbert's achievements and recognise arguably the fastest bowler that has walked the earth.
Gilbert's achievements are monumental. He took 87 wickets for Queensland at an average of 29.98 and famously bowled Don Bradman for a duck, but racist policies of the day prevented him playing Test cricket.
Mr Barney represented Australia as a flyweight boxer at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962. The 73-year-old took a deep breath and then broke into a huge smile when he summed up how he felt about the honour bestowed upon his legendary father.
"Emotional," he beamed.
"This has taken a long, long time. I got a letter a couple of weeks ago saying they wanted to name a cricket field after dad. I said, 'I will be very honoured to come'. I never saw my father bowl, but he showed me how.
"The reason he bowled so fast is because he used to strengthen his arms by throwing boomerangs and spears. I used to play cricket a lot. But he said to me, 'My son, you choose what sport you want'.
"So I took up boxing and three of us from Cherbourg went to Perth in 1962 for the Empire Games."
Gilbert's grandson Eddie Gyemore attended and said he still treasured gifts that were given to him by his grandfather.
"I met him a couple of years before he died when I was a kid and he was staying (at hospital) here," he recalled.
"He looked at me and started crying and said, 'You are my grandson'. He gave me a cricket ball and a couple of personal items.
"This ceremony is closure - just to have this field named after him. It is wonderful."
Gilbert's granddaughter Anita Weazel attended with husband Owen, sons Noel and Jason and granddaughter Nevaya. Great grandson Luke was also on hand with wife Carissa and children Baylie, 11, Ebony, 8, and Zahlie, 4.
"Baylie is very interested in finding out where his family comes from," Carissa said.
"So we have been doing a fair bit of research on Eddie and trying to figure out the family line so we can explain it to Baylie.
"Eddie Gilbert was a great bowler and this day is really, really good. It is all about recognition."
Singer/songwriter Dermot Dorgan also sang his moving song 'Eddie Gilbert' to the crowd while Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke glowingly of Gilbert at the official ceremony.
Mr Stewart said Gilbert was "a great Queenslander by anyone's standards".
"This is an acknowledgement of Eddie Gilbert and his contribution to not just sport, but the fabric of our life," he said.
"Not many people would know that Eddie Gilbert bowled the great Donald Bradman and Bradman had huge respect for him, so naming this oval today in memory and honour of Eddie Gilbert is just desserts and...will allow Eddie's name to live on into the future."
"At another level the fact that this is happening in NAIDOC Week typifes the changing attitude in Australia to the contribution that all Indigenous Australians have made over many years and I am so glad to be part of that."
Ms Palaszczuk, also the Inala MP, said the ceremony was all about recognising a man who had been forgotten by many.
She spoke at length to Mr Barney about his father and said she was delighted "to see the family here in joyous spirits because of the fact that Eddie Gilbert has finally been remembered".
"And he will be remembered here forever more," she said.
"He is a shining example to all young cricketers that you can aspire to your dream."
Mr Stewart and Ms Palaszczuk gave deserved recognition to Goodna stalwart Keiron Butler who has been the prime mover behind getting Gilbert recognised.
"I'm very proud," Mr Butler said, as he gazed out over Eddie Gilbert Memorial Field.
"It has all come to fruition after three years and with the help of a lot of people. I am very happy with the way the police conducted the service.
"I spoke to the family and they are very happy about it all too. It is a good thing."