Why Do We Call'em Wallabies Dad?

Rugby World Cup, Cardiff, Wales, 1999

The French had left the “Silver Fern” dismantled and awry,
The Kiwis… crushed in disbelief, recoiled to ponder… why?
The shock upset… alarm bells purge, the Wallabies with a wrench.
The wall between the World Cup and us… menacingly stood… the French.

Passions now ignited to oxy weld the side,
Inspired with that spirit, the toughest Wallaby cried.
Herb Elliot’s simple message, they’d take to heart and earn,
“You’ve laboured so long… you can’t go back, from a point of no return.”

Our nation stood beside them from the frontline of Timor,
As Matilda waltzed with Williamson and the words of Harris, Handy and Waugh,
And in a potent stroke emotion broke as their ANZAC blood would stir,
As Maqueen took the team through the tidal stream of Villiers Bretonneux.

The anthems were behind them, the struggles under way,
As seventy two plus thousand from the seats kick start the play.
The Welsh had weighted Cardiff’s heart as the midfield grass was torn,
Australia’s heart was on centre stage as the rugby world looked on.

The crack appeared in this Test in time as the game raged past three quarter time.
Illusion stepped in magic feet as the line felt the force of the Aussie fleet,
And just for a moment I sensed a charge through a machine gun’s “rat-a-tat-tat”,
And the coppery tinge of a rising sun on the side of a felt slouch hat.

Horan magic, on to Tune, as the French fullback loomed large,
Tune speared like Lighthorse Cavalry with his bone shaking… line breaking charge,
Then again… the magic came… Gregan’s flicking inside pass
Onto replacement flanker Finegan… linked his personal dream to class.

My little boy was tiny, we’d stayed up late that night,
We’d seen his marvellous Wallabies go forward… with the fight.
I’d tucked him in, we’d kissed goodnight, I turned to walk away.
Jake’s little voice from his darkened room took my mind away.

“Why do we call’em Wallabies, Dad?” It caught me by surprise,
World Rugby’s Holy Grail was ours, as I searched his sleepy eyes.
And I thought of a “stand-in” granddad, who took time to talk to me,
While explaining the animal badges on his kit from Gallipoli.

“See the wallaby, mate, it’s like the kangaroo and the emu on our soldier’s crests,
“They adorn the jerseys and the baggy caps of the heroes of our front line tests.
“They’re there because Australia loves them, but on a more important tack,
“It’s because they’re amongst the only animals on earth… that can’t… take a single step back.”
Robert Raftery©

©2005 Artroom Creative