Moustache for all good sports
Pencil, handle-bar, horseshoe, Fu Manchu, toothbrush, walrus, Dali and The Zappa – no two ’tache styles are the same.
And they come in different colours, too, from ginger (think Prince Harry, Ed Sheerin, even Yosemite Sam) to pitch black (Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Burt Reynolds and Freddie Mercury) and everything in between, including Santa white.
Waxed and preened, trimmed and twirled, moustaches are an unequivocal declaration of masculinity.
In the 1960s, when television sets began to invade our lounge rooms, Australia was experiencing a golden age of tennis, which made for excellent TV viewing.
From 1961 to 1970, Aussie blokes won at least one Open Singles title every year at the Grand Slam tournaments.
Our tennis heroes were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche, Ken Rosewall, Fred Stolle and, of course, my favourite, John Newcombe. “Newk” was six-foot tall, powerful and athletic, with a gleaming smile and lip foliage to die for.
Newk’s moustache, which apparently he grew on holiday in Hawaii and was never shaved off, was one of the most successful moustaches ever to grace centre court. It was with him when he won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1967, 1970 and 1971 and the men’s doubles in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1974, as well as an extraordinary string of other major titles.
On and off the court, John Newcombe was dashing, debonair and distinctive – everything a girl looks for in a moustache.
Then along came Dennis Lillee, a demon of a fast bowler, who made watching test cricket positively exhilarating. With his bristling moustache and six-foot, testosterone-fuelled frame, Lillee was danger personified. His unparalleled speed of delivery and fearless attitude struck terror into the hearts of batsmen all over the world from his test debut in 1971 until retirement in 1984.
Lillee was a man of strong opinions, on and off the field. Perhaps a ’tache does that to you, but in any event he was possessed of attitude with a capital A.
Railing against the pittance he felt cricketers were being paid at the time, he proposed a radical departure from test cricket, a game purely for television with profits going to the players.
Kerry Packer gave life to Lillee’s inspired suggestion and World Series Cricket was born.
The man with the mo’ became the poster boy of World Series Cricket, much to the chagrin of traditionalists.
Throughout his career, Lillee had a superb partner behind the stumps in the form of legendary wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who sported a magnificent moustache of his own.
The moustachioed marvels were a lethal combination.
The dismissal “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” appears a record 95 times on Test cards. Marsh became one of the greatest wicket keeper batsmen of all time taking 355 dismissals and scoring 3,633 runs in his 96 test matches for Australia – and that unmistakeable mo’ was with him every step of the way.
A moustache was almost compulsory for test cricketers of the day.
Max Walker’s rackish handlebar was as idiosyncratic as his bizarre medium-pace bowling style that earned him the moniker of “Tangles”.
Merv Hughes’ bristling walrus perfectly matched his towering height and solid build.
A fierce competitor, Hughes’ lip ornament, which was reportedly insured for $350,000 during his test career, is arguably the most famous ’tache in cricket.
But when it comes to hairy stiff upper lips, the prize for sheer guts and determination in sport must go to the mighty mo’ of Robert De Castella, Australia’s greatest marathon runner.
Deek’s champion crumb catcher looked anything but aero-dynamic, but it was with him at the end when he won two Commonwealth Game medals and a world championship.
In essence, a moustache is a statement accessory that speaks volumes about the wearer and how he regards himself.
The most sublime and manly moustache ever to grace the small screen was full, luxuriant and confident.
It told us that the wearer was strong, decent and loyal, though slightly flawed. It belonged to Tom Selleck’s character, Thomas Magnum, a private investigator in Hawaii.
Not surprisingly, Magnum PI was my dear mother’s favourite show. But then, my Mum once quaintly said, “kissing a man without a moustache is like eating bread without butter”.