The Master: The life and times of Dally Messenger Australia's first sporting superstar

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Hachette Australia, Sep 1, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 388 pages
Dally Messenger was an Australian sporting superstar in the early years of the 20th century - a rugby league icon, rugby union champion, and the most popular sporting personality of this day.

He was courted by all codes in that heady period of the early 1900s, when rugby league and Australian rules were fighting to become the dominant winter sport. He represented Australia in rugby league and rugby union and also represented New Zealand in rugby league. Thousands flocked to the grounds when he was playing, and he his revered as an icon in rugby league to this very day.

The Master is a popular and authoritative account of the life and times of a superlative sportsman, a tribute to a rugby league player without peer, and an inspiring story for all those who would marvel at this sporting excellence and outstanding achievements.

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In 1949 15-year-old Jim Johnson and his older brother Charlie joined Mt Evelyn Football Club, Second XVIII. Mt Evelyn Football Ground’s
surface was then uneven and often very muddy. Studying the Sporting Globe Football Book (1948), Jim Johnson adapted Jack Dyer’s ‘crazy’ Drop-Punt … ‘the silliest looking kick in football history’ (p.49) into an effective Drop- Punt (field pass) and later invented a Stab Punt (pass), both kicks being suitable to Mt Evelyn’s mud. These kicks were able to be kicked at full pace with accuracy; they are in constant use today in Australian Rules football. Playing just three games, Jim won the 1949 Second-Best-and-Fairest trophy (The T.O. Millard Trophy). Theo Millard (Jim’s uncle) was Mt Evelyn’s major employer at Millards’ Timber and Trading. Jim, 157.5cm and weighing 51kg, was promoted to the first XVIII, winning the umpire’s vote for best player on three occasions; joined Ringwood Football Club as First Rover for the First XVIII in 1950; and in 1960 played in a Premiership team for Croydon. ‘Johnson was outstanding in the mud with clever turning and accurate disposal.’ The Ringwood Mail, August 1951. Journalists had trouble finding the correct name for Johnson’s Stab Punt. ‘Johnson sent his delightful little drop punt pass direct to Manfield’. Frank Casey, The Post, September 8, 1960. ‘Johnson should write a book on stab kicking – he has found the lost art’. Davey Crocket, The Ringwood Mail, September 8, 1960. From Helen Johnson Jim Johnson’s story appears in the ‘Face to Face’ exhibition at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. Jim also donated the concert program signed by Melba, part of our display ‘The Mitchells in Mt Evelyn’ at the Exhibition Space. . Jim Johnson (right) with brother Charlie at Yarra Glen oval, 7 May 1949.
“Things Past Newsletter 44 October 2011 Mount Evelyn History Group Inc”, Page 3
See Google "Stab Punt Jim" Text and Video on the Mount Evelyn Football Club Web site. See Club Video’s, Jim Johnson.

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About the author (2011)

Sean Fagan is a sports historian and writer, specialising in Rugby League and 19th century Rugby Union. In 2005 he published the seminal work, THE RUGBY REBELLION.

Dally Messenger is the grandson of 'The Master', a marriage celebrant, and author of books on rugby league, as well as the history of radio and its effect on children. He is the author of the book CEREMONIES AND CELEBRATIONS.

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