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Remembering all-round sports figure Brian Hurn

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Brian Hurn, an important figure in Barossa and South Australian sport both on and off the field, died on Sunday, aged 76.

Hurn, whose family has been at the forefront of sport in Angaston for generations, excelled in both the summer and winter passion of football and cricket.

He played 31 first-class cricket matches for South Australia in a first-class career spanning nine seasons from 1957/58 to 1966/67.

The highlight of his cricket career in Adelaide was the 1963/64 Sheffield Shield title.

Hurn, in an interview with the author in 2014, said the title was high watermark in his career.

“We had a special group that came together at that time,” said Hurn, a bowling all-rounder.

“The squad had a tremendous team spirit and harmony, driven by the senior players like ‘Favelli’ (Les Favell), ‘Nodder’ (Neil Dansie), ‘Jars’ (Barry Jarman) and (Ian) McLachlan.

“Everybody pulled their weight.”

Hurn said Sir Garfield Sobers was the best cricketer he’d seen and was lucky enough to play alongside of him in a long and distinguished career.

“The last game of the season was a vital clash against Victoria at Adelaide Oval,” Hurn explained.

“Our brains trust (the senior men in the team) was discussing the issues and problems they may encounter with the Vic’s.

“‘Sobey’ just said ‘don’t worry boys I’ll make a hundred and take five wickets’.”

The SA side went on to win by an innings and 46 runs to clinch the Shield, and true to his word, Sobers peeled off 124 with the bat and claimed 6/71 in the second innings.

Hurn has a long and distinguished career with the Kensington Browns and through his entire career travelling down from the Angaston to play for the club.

He still holds the record for the most A Grade wickets in Kensington’s history with 538. In an interesting twist, current player Jamie Panelli’s seven wicket haul last Saturday brings him to 537.

Hurn was a dual winner of the Bradman medal, but in his day the awards was called the SACA District Cricketer of the Year.

His team and captain at Kensington Neil ‘Nodder’ Dansie says Hurn was a very good cricketer and a “direct and engaging character”.

“I played with him most of my cricketing life at the Browns and with South Australia and against him towards the end against him when I went to East Torrens,” Dansie said.

“Ian Glover and Brian were a success opening bowling combination at Kensington for many years.

“A great guy and a very loyal team man, Bunger was one of the best.”

He was also an outstanding country footballer. Following in the footsteps of his Uncle Lacey in 1938, he won the Barossa and Light Football Association’s top honour, the Mail Medal, in 1970.

At one point in the 1960s, seven members of the Hurn clan were playing for the Angaston Panthers – Brian, his brothers, Malcolm, Geoff and Richard, along with cousins Christopher, Tony and Peter

He was a five-time premiership player, a club captain, and coach, and secretary for 11 years, along with being a life member of the Panthers and the first life member of the amalgamated Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association.

This sporting legacy carried on through his son William, a 135-game league footballer at Central District in the 1980s, and his grandson Shannon, a Redbacks rookie contracted player, before he chose football and captained the West Coast Eagles in the AFL Grand Final earlier this month.

Hurn, who was awarded an OAM, was the mayor of the Barossa Council, a position he held from 1996 to 2014, and a fourth generation farmer of sheep for wool, lambs, beef cattle and wine grapes.

Hurn was involved in local government for 37 years.

His funeral will be held on Tuesday, 27 October, from 3pm at the Angaston Uniting Church.

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