Published in Thirteen, 2005
The 1959 ASHES SERIES
Great Britain v Australia
The Last Ashes Win on Home Soil
After the disappointments of 1930 and 1948, Australia finally won a test match at Swinton by winning the first match of the 1959 Ashes Series 22-14, with hat-trick hero Reg Gasnier the stand out player along with Brian ‘Poppa’ Clay, whose place had been in doubt due to injury.
The events of the second Test at Leeds are well remembered in Ashes folklore. Great Britain remember the tough 11-10 win to draw level but the tourists bemoaned their luck for years, comparing it to the Chimpy Busch test of 1930. They hit a post, had a try disallowed – unfairly in their opinion – and questioned the validity of John Whiteley’s try.
But it was on to Wigan for the decider, in a game where a try made by Gasnier for winger Brian Carlson almost upstaged the end result itself. Gasnier fielded the ball under his own posts and beat man after man before handing on to Carlson to score a wonderful try but it was in vain as Neil Fox scored 15 points, with Ike Southward also adding a try as Great Britain emerged triumphantly by 18-12 to retain the Ashes they had won so bravely, courtesy of Alan Prescott, the year before.
The Australians moved onto France, where they won the test series 3-0 although the highlight of that leg of the tour came on Perpignan on New Year’s Day as Ken Irvine was hit around the head with a chair by a spectator in a particularly brutal game against a Catalan XIII. In the end, the French manager took to the field to remind the players it was New Year’s Day and the rest of the match was played in the right spirits with Australia winning 32-8!