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‘Piss Off Fatso’: When Thompson and Lillee wreaked havoc

by | 19th, September 2017

 

The Ashes are coming. A friend tells me with no little boasting, “I watched Thompson and Lillee on ‘The Hill’.” That was the 1974-1975 Ashes, when Geoff Thompson and Dennis Lillee were on a mission.

As Lillee put it: “I’m trying to scare him, trying to hurt him, perhaps in the ribs or leg or something so that he at least knows you’re around.”

And the crowd? Well, they loved it. “Lillee! Lillee! Kill! Kill! Kill!”

 

 

And Thompson and Lillee really hated the English. The 1974-75 Athes series was brutal:

England were surprised when Thomson was included in the Australian side for the opening Test in Brisbane. “We never thought they’d pick Jeff,” recalled David Lloyd. “We thought it was a different Thomson… Froggy, who played for Victoria.”

In the days before the Test, Thomson upped the hype in a TV interview when he said: “I enjoy hitting a batsman more than getting him out. I like to see blood on the pitch.”

The night before the match Lillee came across Thomson in the bar drinking scotch. “When I go out to bowl I want a hangover from hell,” Thomson explained. “I bowl really well when I’ve got a headache.”

When the game got underway Australia batted first, leaving Thomson in the pavilion to nurse his hangover. Towards the end of their innings Tony Greig, who could bowl briskly and generated significant lift from his 6ft 7in frame to trouble decent batsmen, bounced Lillee. The ball reared at his head and he could do no more than glove it to Alan Knott. “Just you remember who started this,” muttered Lillee as he trooped off.

“When I batted at Perth I didn’t even wear a cap,” said Lloyd. “All I had was an apology for a thigh pad.” It was in that Test that Thomson struck Lloyd so hard in the groin that his protective box was turned inside out. “You didn’t feel fear,” he added, “but you did feel a hopelessness at times, a feeling that you couldn’t cope.”

Mike Denness noted Lloyd’s reaction when he returned to the dressing room after one innings. “Within seconds his body was quivering. His neck and the top half of his body in particular were shaking. He was shell-shocked.”

Here’s a fun anecdote from the Perth Test:

“Good morning, my name’s Cowdrey,” he said. Thomson has told the story so often, with ribald twists introduced depending on the audience, that it is hard to know precisely what he said in response but his latest account, gives a flavour: “As I handed my hat to the umpire, I was revved up and just wanted to kill somebody and Kipper walked all the way up to me and said: ‘Mr Thomson I believe. It’s so good to meet you.’ And I said: ‘That’s not going to help you, Fatso, now piss off.'”

Did it hurt? David Lloyd tells us:

After making a heroic 49 in his first knock, Lloyd was making dogged progress in the second innings when Thomson caught him ‘full on’ in the most tender part of the anatomy.
“We wore little pink plastic boxes at the time which were totally unsuitable for the job,” he explained. “It cracked open and what I had inside fired through before the box snapped shut again like a guillotine coming down. Even after 32 years, I lose my voice just thinking about it. There’s retired hurt and then there’s retired hurt…”

For your diaries:

23-27 November 2017 – First Test, Gabba.
2-6 December 2017 – Second Test, Adelaide Oval (Day-Night)
14-18 December 2017 – Third Test, Perth (venue TBC)
26-30 December 2017 – Fourth Test, MCG.
4-8 January 2018 – Fifth Test, SCG.



Posted: 19th, September 2017 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink