Maleny Tennis

Phil Crowe

PLAYER PROFILE  No.4:  Phil Crowe

Peter Stockings has suggested that I shouldn’t escape scrutiny, so here goes.

Things were looking dire in Australia in 1942 — until July of that year when I was born in Beaudesert, Queensland.  By late 1942 the Japanese were retreating along the Kokoda Track, and the Allies went on to win the war.  Not that I’m claiming credit for all of that, of course.

Relatives have told me in moments of candor – after the second bottle of wine perhaps – that I was a difficult child.  Looking at this photo of me with my sister Suzanne I find that hard to believe.

Suzanne was a strong tennis player.  She served with her right hand then played with her left, a cunning strategy that bemused many opponents.  We lived at Wilston in Brisbane and played tennis at our Aunty Rita’s place next door.  She had a large allotment with plenty of room for the grass tennis court.  The bounce was a bit irregular but that didn’t worry us.  Her house was a sprawling Queenslander, with 5 bedrooms and one bathroom.  No ensuites in those days.  On the front gate was a plaque with the strange name of “Nenagh” painted in gold on a green background.

I commenced my schooling as a boarder at Freneau Park College in Toowoomba at about the age of six.  The nuns were kindly but the winters were brutal.  The land on which the school stood is now a housing estate.  I later attended a series of schools conducted by the Christian Brothers, and left little trace except in swimming where I suppose my height helped me to reach the other end of the pool a little sooner.

After school I attended the University of Queensland for a while but without any real commitment or direction so my parents suggested a career in something solid — banking.  Not terribly exciting you might say, but it had its moments.  There was no such thing as uniformed security guards 50 years ago.  The term “multi-skilling” had yet to be invented but bank clerks were expected to be versatile.  The bank had acquired from the police a variety of hand guns that had been confiscated from assorted villains.  Mine had obviously belonged to a criminal with a sense of style.  It was a shiny silver snub-nose revolver, but unfortunately there seemed to be something missing.  When the weapon was pointed skywards, the bullets fell out the back.  Nevertheless, when a delivery or pick up of cash was due, I was expected to loiter outside the bank premises – suitably loaded you might say – mixing unobtrusively with the sick and infirm on Wickham Terrace who were proceeding from one medical specialist to another seeking deliverance.  Fortunately I never had to fire at a robber up a tree, nor at anybody else I’m happy to say.

But even this wasn’t enough excitement for me so I left banking and entered the freewheeling world of advertising.  I got a job with a Brisbane advertising agency for which I was paid a pittance (£14 a week springs to mind) but it came with a very impressive title – Advertising Account Executive.  My main clients were a shonky retailer of electrical goods (no longer in business I hasten to reassure you), and a travel agent who promoted the Australian Women’s Weekly World Discovery Tours that were so popular with retirees they hardly needed to be advertised.

I reckoned there must be some theories behind this advertising game that would help me to sell anything to anybody so in 1966 I went off to Syracuse University in central New York State to study communications.  It was there that I met the lovely Maggie who was a nurse at St Joseph’s Hospital in that city and we were married in 1970.  I went on to do further studies in Iowa in the Mid-West and then in Albany – which is the capital of New York state despite it being very much smaller than New York City.

We returned to Australia in January, 1974.  It rained almost every day for the first 3 months, especially around 26 January – a date I’m sure will resonate with those of you who lived in Brisbane at that time.  Maggie asked, “Does it always rain like this here?”

After 22 years lecturing at the QUT in Brisbane I retired to a life of domestic duties and tennis.  We moved to Maleny in 2002 after Maggie retired from her lecturing job at Griffith University.   One of my first calls was to the then Club President, Ian Findlay, to see if I could get a game here.  He told me to just visit the clubhouse and ask for Sylvia and Barbara.  “They’ll look after you,” he assured me.  And so they have.

Maggie and I and Suzanne will be heading off to Ireland in May.  One of the places we’ll be visiting is the town of Nenagh in Tipperary North – named, apparently, after my Aunty Rita’s house in Brisbane where we used to play tennis all those years ago.