Hockey Australia is saddened to hear of the passing of former Kookaburra and Olympian Brian Booth MBE on 19 May.
Brian was the 154th player capped for Australia’s Men’s Hockey Team and played two international matches, both coming during the home 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. He made his debut on 23 November 1956 in a first up 2-0 win over Kenya.
Hockey colleague and historian from New South Wales, Colin Allerdice penned the following tribute to Brian.
The hockey and cricket worlds have lost one of their sporting icons with the passing of Brian Booth MBE from cancer. A truly gifted man, Brian was a champion 440-yard runner, district tennis champion, and a talented cricketer and hockey player.
Born in Perthville, just outside Bathurst, Brian knocked on three doors when he moved to Sydney in 1952 to take up a teacher’s college scholarship – the St. George District Hockey Club, the St. George District Cricket Club and the St. George’s Church, Hurstville.
As a committed Christian, he went on to represent his chosen District, his State and Country in both sports with skill, commitment, pride, humility and grace.
During his lifetime, he served both sports and the two District Clubs as a player, coach, administrator, patron and mentor influencing many, including those in other sports, with his gentlemanly conduct and personal ideals.
He was one of hockey’s “Originals” – a member of the Australian Men’s Hockey Team that participated in the 1956 Olympic Games and held, for a short period, what is often said to be the second most important job in the nation – Captain of the Australian Men’s Cricket Team.
The brief statistics of his sporting career are as follows:
– Played for St George from 1952 to 1973 (over 300 matches)
– 8 First Grade Premierships
– Represented New South Wales from 1955 to 1960 (broken period) (30 matches)
– Represented Australia at 1956 Olympic Games (2 matches)
– Played for St George from 1952 to 1977
– 6 First Grade Premierships
– 287 innings scoring 10,674 runs at an average of 45.42 with a highest score of 208no
– Represented New South Wales from 1954 to 1969 (93 First Class matches inc. 81 S/Shield)
– 146 innings scoring 5,577 runs at an average of 43.57 with a highest score of 177
– Represented Australia from 1960 to 1966 (29 Tests & 72 Tour matches)
– 154 innings scoring 5,961 runs at an average of 44.16 with a highest score of 214no
– As an occasional bowler he took 16 wickets in all First Class matches played
– Captained New South Wales on 11 occasions and Australia twice
After retiring from teaching, Brian’s personal ministry saw him take on active roles in the Sydney Christian Businessmen’s Group and the Christian Sports Fellowship, which encourages Christians in all sports. He travelled extensively to remote areas of New South Wales and Queensland speaking at assemblies, conducting coaching ‘safaris’, sharing guidelines for living life with a purpose, and sharing his faith.
In 1967 the Sydney Hockey Association introduced a medal to be awarded to the best & fairest player each season and named it ‘The Brian Booth Medal’. He was a life member of the St. George District Cricket Club, NSW Cricket Association and the Marylebone Cricket Club.
He has been inducted into the Sydney Hockey Association Hall of Fame, the Cricket NSW Hall of Fame and is recognised in the NSW Sports Hall of Champions. The “Booth Saunders Pavilion” at Sydney’s Hurstville Oval is jointly named in his honour and Perthville’s sports oval has been renamed “The Brian Booth Oval”.
In 1982 he was awarded an MBE for services to the community and sport.
Brian’s record of being the only person to have represented Australia at both hockey and cricket will be set in stone by the historians. It is unlikely to ever be replicated. But it was his ability to succeed when the pressure was the greatest and his unobtrusive ability to inspire others that will challenge the minds of those who write about him. Brian Booth was 89. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Judy, their four daughters and their families.
If I had written a million words it would have not accurately reflected Brian’s life and those who he influenced during it. A true legend lost.
Hockey Australia extends its deepest condolences to the Booth family and Brian’s friends.