In this week’s edition of ‘It Happens’, I present a moment that genuinely ranks in the Top 10 for all-time Australian sporting ‘It Happens’ moments, replayed billions of times over a 26-year period.
In fact, it belongs in the Top 5, alongside Steven Bradbury… and some other moments that I can’t quite remember.
Date: Sunday, December 19, 1993.
When Channel Nine broadcast minor things like Test cricket… and Formula One.
In what was Australian captain Allan Border’s last summer of international cricket (Against South Africa in their first tour since Apartheid), The Gabba played host to the Allan Border Tribute Match, a contest that many esteemed experts would regard as being the pinnacle of all ‘celebrity’ sporting matches.
Mainly thanks to the comedic contribution of a beloved red-headed fatty from Channel 9’s ‘rugbaleeg’ coverage.
The teams were 12 per side, and the International XI, apparently captained by Rod Marsh, contained the likes of David Boon, Dougie Walters, South African captain Hansie Cronje, Barry Richards, Joel Garner and Sir Richard Hadlee, while being weighed down by Dermott Brereton (About to make a comeback with the Sydney Swans), Peter Sterling, and Wallabies great Tim Horan.
Aside from Captain Grumpy, the Allan Border XI was littered with Queensland Origin heroes like Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin, King Wally Lewis and Alfie Langer, and complemented by Carl Rackemann, Greg Ritchie, Ian Healy, Jeff Thomson, Craig McDermott…
And Greg Chappell.
The International XI batted first, highlighted by knocks from Boonie (58) and Walters (32), but they were let down by the shoddy single figure performances of Derm The Germ, Sterlo, Marsh and Cronje, who was run out for 3, a result mysteriously predicted by this bloke called ‘John’.
With Horan and Sir Richard at the crease late in the innings and the score at 8-191, Alfie Langer continued bowling his right arm pies, which Horan had no problem carting to all parts, working the singles with Sir Richard.
The last ball of Langer’s over (The 35th over) was the biggest pie of the lot, which Horan easily slogged down legside towards the fence, and a desperate Fatty kept his eyes on the ball in what looked like a vain chase, leading to the moment we now simply know as…..
FATTY’S ****ING CATCH
Of course, it was further immortalised by Billy Birmingham in Wired World Of Sports II in 1994:
Tim Horan 21 (23) c Vautin b Langer.
While Fatty’s catch lives in the pages of history, the match also had some other piss funny moments.
There was Alfie’s emergency drinks break, delivered by Broncos fitness guru Kelvin Giles, who did a superb job of not spilling a drop from the jug.
There was also King Wally Lewis bowling his trundlers to Boonie and Dougie Walters, one of which was smacked back over the King’s head by Boonie for a boundary.
And Ian Healy impersonating Big Merv (With a beer gut and moustache), Terry Alderman, Malcolm Marshall and Peter Taylor (Not Abdul Qadir as Bill Lawry assumed)…. followed by Heals clean bowling Joel Garner.
As for the match, it was originally scheduled for 45 overs, although for some reason it was reduced to 40 overs – Presumably due to how long it took for everyone to recover from the shock of watching Fatty’s catch.
After Horan’s dismissal, Sir Richard was able to blast a quickfire 44, thanks to some protection from Joel Garner and No.12 Henry Lawson, pushing the International score to 251 after 40 overs.
Although, given this match was about AB, the Internationals were hit with a 2 runs per over handicap, effectively meaning the target was only 172.
Border got a huge reception as he strode to the middle, top scoring with 46 before he was somehow dismissed by Sterlo, Greg Ritchie opened with 41, Alfie pitched in with 32 before Hansie cleaned him up, and Greg Chappell was sent packing by Dermie for a mere 17.
Should’ve played Trevor instead.
But, providing the fairlytale finish, Thommo saved the day with the bat, pulling off what he and AB couldn’t quite accomplish on Boxing Day 1982, hitting 23 and getting the AB XI home by 1 wicket with an over to spare.
So to end this week, here’s Fatty’s ****ing Catch on a continuous loop, being replayed and replayed, over and over, ad bloody nauseam.