David Headon


In the months leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Daily Telegraph, one of Sydney’s tabloid newspaper, ran a series of advertisements sponsored by Foster’s brewery which focussed on a small number of legendary Australian sporting heroes and heroines. One profile, repeated several times before Atlanta, featured a man unknown to virtually all Australians these days: Reginald Leslie ‘Snowy’ Baker. The first sentence of the advertisement referred to Baker as ‘the greatest sporting all-rounder Australia has ever produced, excelling in an incredible twenty-six different sports’. Sports journalist — and sometime rugby bard — Peter Fenton, anticipated the Olympic tribute in his newspaper column earlier in the same year when he reacted to the ultra-professionalising of sport. ‘Gone,’ he lamented, ‘are the days when a potential champion pursued a host of games, in all of which came similar pleasure. Gone are the great allrounders that were part of our sporting history’ (71). Recalling those ‘great all-rounders’ of yesteryear, Fenton declared that the ‘daddy of all was Reginald “Snowy” Baker’ (71).



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