This poem was written by my father in 2007. He was asked to contribute to an ANZAC commemoration service for his residential community. True to form, he preferred to write something that conveyed the mateship and strong connection amongst his friends with whom he served.
This is a true story, as I remember my father telling me about the racehorse named Maroomba.
Neil is coming up to his 92nd birthday, hale and hearty, all things considered. I have been meaning to share this for a few years.
I grew up listening to my father recite classic Australian ballads about the outback, bushrangers and the unique Australian character. I think I can still get most of the way through ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. This is definitely written in the same style.
The Geraldton Cup
Way back in 1943, or was it ‘44
We all had shouldered arms and Australia was ‘ay war.
The mighty second div, the best that we could boast, was quickly shipped to Geraldton to guard our western coast.
The Japs got wind that we were there and wouldn’t have a go,
They knew the second divvy boys would be a worthy foe.
We’d been training in the desert just to keep us all on course,
When Alan Heap and Charlie Roffe went to town to lease a horse.
They brought the bay mare back to camp locked in a breakdown van,
And this meant weeks of training with the help of everyman.
Charlie nominated himself, to be the horse’s jockey,
He was only five foot four, was short and rather stocky.
Bully Hayes, the blacksmith, pitched in to lend a hand,
The greatest metal bender in all the western land.
“If Maroomba doesn’t win the cup, don’t put the blame on me,
She has the finest set of shoes that you did ever see.”
Big Wal McNab was six feet two, slim and rather dapper,
With lots of strength and keenness, was selected as the strapper.
Neil Moulang from instruments was asked to be the clocker,
He, the only man in camp with a stopwatch in his locker.
Our Captain said, “Don’t tell me boys, I don’t know anything,
But I wish you all the best of luck when Maroomba has her fling.”
The serious training started, the parade ground was the track,
Maroomba showed exceptional form with Charlie on her back.
All our accurate timing, turned out to be for nought,
‘Cos what we thought was a furlong, was really ten yards short.
The fateful day at last arrived, the day that was to see,
Maroomba win the coveted cup, or despatched to the glue fact’ry.
The army lads were loaded and plonked their money down,
All set to win a motza from the bookie boys in town.
When we manned the railings just to see the nags go past,
The boys were all dejected to see Maroomba come in last.
But Charlie said, “Don’t worry boys we have another ace,
You see, we’ve listed ol’ Maroomba to run the final race.”
She did improve her placing, now she knew which way to go,
Maroomba came home second last, and still we had no dough.
There can be no recriminations, now it’s twenty zero seven,
As most of the known perpetrators are at the race track up in heaven.
Ex 132 Bde Workshops
Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
18 April 2007