Nice gesture, of course, but it’s a cop-out.
This demonstrates an inability of some members of the Heritage Trust to admit they were wrong and to listen to the public, the fans, the punters.
Considering the huge lines snaking through the SCG on Saturday for the Roosters-Knights game as fans waited to pay through their noses for Justin Hemmes’ whimsical fare, that’s not entirely surprising.
Legacy Trust Chairman Maurice Newman was accused by 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley on Monday morning for comments he made to News Corp last month about Beetson ‘not making the cut’ because he is a “Queenslander”.
“I note that you are a very educated gentleman,” Hadley said. “But I don’t know what you know about rugby league. I’m not gonna go after that shit for putting a statue there. Build a statue there and name a stand after him…”
Beetson has become such a gaming giant, with one foot firmly in his home state of Queensland and another in his adopted state of NSW, that he has transcended borders.
So said his son, Mark: “I do not accept the statements made by the Selection Board that he is a Queenslander. He had more impact as an Australian. He played his first test match in this arena. He had his greatest moment after winning the premiership in 1975 in this constituency as well. It’s bigger than NSW and Queensland. He played 18 games for NSW and 15 years of his career in NSW. And there is no doubt that he had a love affair with Sydney.
The unspoken subtext of this debate is the stubbornness displayed by Venues NSW over the story leaked to the media, including the Herald.
It’s an interesting position given all that was leaked to the media a few years ago during the so-called ‘stadium wars’ over whether Australia Stadium or Allianz Stadium were demolished and rebuilt. .
Fingers have been pointed at the Roosters, which defies belief given the club are the stadium’s largest tenant, while a line has been spun that the club have not returned with any suggestions.
The club denies. It’s also irrelevant.
Certainly a so-called Heritage Trust, which is appointed and funded by the NSW Government, needs no one’s reminder of the merits of Arthur Beetson.
One would also think he could read the play.
In the 1973 Kangaroo Tour, Beetson became the first Indigenous captain of any Australian sports team.
At a time when governing bodies are scrambling to recognize our First Nations people, Venues NSW has decided to snub one.
South and East legend Ron Coote, Socceroos great Johnny Warren and former Wallaby Sir Nicholas Shehadie all deserve their place in the new arena.
Yet the decision to name a stand “Garrison” in a nod to British Army troops who used the area as barracks and storage for armaments in the 1850s is one of the dumbest calls ever made. a governing body in recent memory.
There are dozens of better candidates.
If not Beetson, why not his great friend Jack Gibson, who played extensively at the former Sydney Sports Ground and SCG, including the 1963 premiership, before becoming a coach again pioneer for Eastern Suburbs, Newtown, St George, Eastern Suburbs (for two prime ministers), South Sydney, Parramatta (for three prime ministers) and then Cronulla?
If it’s not Jack, then who else? Make your choice.
Bob McCarthy. Marjorie Jackson. Betty Cuthbert. Brad Fitter. Ella brothers. Field. Roycey Simmons. Terry Lamb’s forearm. Tina Turner. Good.
Any one of them is preferable to the recognition of British Army officers, a decision that might cause war historians to froth, but few others.
Alternatively, respectable members of the Heritage Trust might make the sensible decision to realize they were wrong, show some humility, stop shooting the proverbial messenger and call it the Beetson Stand.
It’s not too late to turn the wrong call into the right one.