Frank Hyde, arguably the greatest rugby
league broadcaster of all time, turns 90 today.
His record as a broadcaster is unlikely to be
ever equalled let alone surpassed. For close on 30 years – until the early
1980s – Frank called rugby league on Sydney station 2SM.
For much of that long period his ratings were greater than those of the other three or
four stations broadcasting league put together.
Frank Hyde did not have the luxury of
broadcasting from air-conditioned boxes high in the stands. Many of his
broadcasts were from the sideline – in rain, hail or shine. And he did not have
the benefit of instant replays.
He was a professional in the best sense of
the word. Accurate, informed, incisive, humorous, but never vicious. And he was
a Channel Nine sports panelist for the best part of a decade.
I saw his professionalism when he came to Papua New Guinea with the Kangaroos in 1985. We agreed he would join me in
broadcasting the Kangaroos v Kumuls live on national radio in PNG.
When he arrived at the ground, on a hot and
steamy afternoon, I pointed out that we had to broadcast the game from the roof
of the grandstand – without cover. “And how do we get there?” “Up that ladder poking out the window,” I
Undaunted, he made the climb, and broadcast
the game without missing a beat – except when the sweat fogged up his glasses. As he gingerly climbed down the ladder
after the game, the members’ bar gave him a standing ovation.
Frank Hyde was also a very good player,
who, like many of his generation, missed out on representing Australia
because war intervened. But he played for Newtown, 1934-37,
and was a member of Balmain’s premiership winning side in 1939. He was captain
coach of North Sydney and steered the team to the 1943 grand final.
His life story is well told in Straight
Between the Posts which he wrote with Ian Heads about a decade ago.
A Happy 90th Birthday to one of
rugby league’s finest servants, and one of society’s true gentlemen.