Photo Credit: South Australian Cricket Association
The South Australian Cricket Association is today mourning the loss of Hampton Neil ‘Nodder’ Dansie, who passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 94.
Born in Nuriootpa in July of 1928, Dansie would go on to become not only a great cricketer, but an endlessly loved and respected South Australian known for his generosity and love of life, which went hand-in-hand with his elite sporting talents.
Originally debuting for Kensington at just 15 years of age, Dansie would make his First-Class debut in January 1950 and swiftly become known as an aggressive batter and deceptive off and leg-spin bowler. Representing his cherished home State a total of 124 times between 1950 and 1967, Dansie scored more than 7000 runs, which included 18 centuries and a high score of 185. He also took 90 wickets and 49 catches throughout a remarkable career.
Two Sheffield Shield titles came during Dansie’s tenure, with triumphs in the summers of 1952/53 and 1963/64 both heavily imprinted with Nodder’s style. Such was his impact on the game in South Australia, the annual award for the State’s best male player is named after Dansie, as is the indoor training facility at Adelaide Oval – an honour he shares with his great mate Les Favell. The Order of Australia Medal was also awarded to Dansie in 1991 for his tireless service to sport.
In addition to an on-field career spanning two decades, Dansie served on the SACA Board for 25 years, spent time coaching and selecting the State women’s team and was a Sheffield Shield selector for 30 years. During this time and beyond he also coached a huge number of young players as they sought to forge their own path in the game.
Away from cricket, Dansie played 39 League games for Norwood Football Club, coached Norwood Reserves, served on the City of Campbelltown Council, spent time as President of the Australian Sportsmen’s Association and founded Newton Jaguars Netball Club in partnership with his wife Gwenda. While at first it may have seemed impossible for Dansie to fit everything in, those who knew him were in no way surprised due to his irrepressible energy and unquenchable desire to make a positive difference to his community.
Just the second ever player to reach 100 Shield appearances, Dansie finished with even more stories to tell than runs tallied, quite an achievement considering he amassed 7,543 of those runs across the years.
A champion of the game in his own right, Dansie played with and against some of the all-time greats including Don Bradman, Neil Harvey, Richie Benaud, Ray Lindwall and so many more. With very little prompting, he would gladly tell hilarious tales of his time sharing the field with these players. However, when it came to talking only about himself, he became significantly less talkative.
An extremely humble man, Dansie would always turn the spotlight onto others rather than himself, but on occasion his wit would take over and a flash of well-deserved personal pride would burst out, always followed by a self-deprecating chuckle.
One such occasion was when he sat down last year to talk about his journey through life – his personalised baggy red cap resting atop his head. While discussing his time sharing the crease with Don Bradman, a glint in the eye and a cheeky smile foreshadowed the only time he would refer to his own exploits.
“I don’t talk about myself, that’s one thing I don’t do, but if you guessed which South Australian player has made the most hundreds against Queensland… I made nine and Don Bradman made eight,” Dansie said before breaking into laughter and adding: “But I batted about 100 more times than he did!”
Dansie’s delight in storytelling is renowned throughout not just South Australia but across the world. Never short of a smile and an enthusiastic handshake, Dansie long maintained friendships forged during his time playing and coaching in the United Kingdom in the mid-1950’s, and as recently as December he had a chat with good mate Sir Garfield Sobers via phone during the Test Match between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval. Such was Nodder’s reach, the call was facilitated by none other than Desmond Haynes.
Known as the Patriarch of South Australian cricket, Hampton Neil Dansie will forever be remembered and celebrated as a talented cricketer and devoted administrator, but far more importantly he will be revered for his generosity, positivity and fierce loyalty. South Australia and beyond is richer for his life and cricket will forever be a better game for his involvement – something he enjoyed every second of.
“The Adelaide Oval and South Australia has been a really big part of my life, I suppose I’ve been virtually involved as a player and that for 75 years or more,” Dansie said last year. “It’s the main part of my life and it’s just greatly appreciated the many wonderful friends I’ve made here.”
SACA President Will Rayner said Nodder will always be cherished by the South Australian community:
“The South Australian Cricket Association is privileged to call Nodder family and it is a privilege that will live on through the stories he told and the foundations he laid,” Rayner said.
“Our thoughts are with all who knew and loved Nodder as one of the greatest innings imaginable comes to a close. He did so much for the sporting world and his local community and it is a fitting tribute that his name adorns one of our most prestigious awards. We are so lucky Nodder called South Australia home. He will be fondly remembered by all forevermore.”