Catching up with Bradman’s broken leg

“There is no way that Bradman broke his leg Mr Sanderson,”said the spokesman for the Bradman Museum in Bowral, NSW.

A young Don Bradman in 1930.

I chortled that “I was tipped off by Rockhampton’s Stella Newton, who saw him carted off to hospital, when she was a young lady in 1930.”

“OK OK, we will phone the Don at his home in Adelaide and ask if he ever broke his leg,” the museum replied.”

Everything possible had been written about the greatest cricketer in recent living memory so how would a girl in Rockhampton know something the museum didn’t know?

One of Central Queensland’s oldest cricketing fans Stella Newton was about to jog the memory of the great Sir Donald Bradman whose only visit to the area ended in complete disaster.

In the summer of 1930, sports mad Queenslanders flocked to Rockhampton in trains and buses to watch a rare event, the country eleven taking on the visiting New South Wales team.

The visit would see Bradman sidelined for three months and the fans return home unfulfilled.

Bradman’s Bowral museum didn’t know about it but 93-year-old old Stella Newton was about to spring a surprise on the keepers of Australia’s heroic culture.

Back in 1930, she was aged 27.

An excited crowd of children met the “cricket train” bringing the New South Wales team to Rockhampton.

Girls would have given anything

to dance with The Don

Prior to the match a dinner-dance in honor of the visitors was staged in Rockhampton. Bradman attended and local girls would have given anything to dance with the hero who was not only light on his feet but also recognized for his musical abilities. That made him a true all-rounder.

Today such dancing joy would be equivalent to a dance with Prince Harry.

The day of the match brought an air of expectancy with the country side electing to bat first.

Just 15 minutes into the match the

Don dived for a ball to prevent a certain boundary

 and remained sprawled on the turf.

Stella selected a location on the fence at Rockhampton showground, just metres from where Bradman stood in the outfield.

Stella Newton with her sharp

cricketing memory at the age of 93.

She could almost reach out and touch him. Just 15 minutes into the match the Don dived for a ball to prevent a certain boundary and remained sprawled on the turf. He was apparently writhing in severe pain with a broken ankle.

Women screamed and the crowd was shocked into silence.

The hero that many had hoped to see in action, just once in their lifetime, was helped from the field and hospitalised for two weeks. The rest of the match was an anticlimax by comparison.

Not mentioned in his books

His broken ankle was not mentioned in any of the Bradman books or albums and Stella’s recollection even came as a surprise to the Bradman Museum.

The Don just turned 88 when Stella reminded him of the incident back in 1996. His memory jogged, Bradman described it as a “nasty break which forced me to use a walking stick for a couple of months.”

Bradman was “protected” from local girls

Local girls tried to visit Bradman to speed his recovery but he was quarantined in Rockhampton Base Hospital, supposedly for his peace of mind. Stella’s brother Gilbert Newton was doing electrical work at the hospital and had a perfect opportunity to cheer up the cricketer. He recalls nurses shooing him away, when he wandered too close to Bradman’s room. It seems the nurses were keeping the “rockstar” cricketer to themselves.

Stella decided not to try and visit the Don. She had never chased a guy and she wasn’t going to start now. When interviewed, at the age of 93, she was still single and with a sharp memory and was still a mad keen follower of cricket.

 Stella’s knowledge of blokes

Stella began an office career in 1918 with local merchants Walter Reid and Co. Young chaps subjected her to the hijinks of stealing her ribbons and running away with them.

That was as bad as office harassment got back then.

“I quickly worked out that they would bring back my ribbons and still talk to me if I didn’t chase them.” she recalled.

She always enjoyed the company of males “without needing to run after them,” and she wasn’t going to make an exception for the injured Don Bradman.

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