Sporting summary: Curtin's words

In 1932, after losing his parliamentary seat of Fremantle the previous year, John Curtin became a sports writer for the Westralian Worker. He became known for his racing tips and also reported on the football, often with young John's help. He wrote to his Labor colleague E G Theodore:

'Young John is nearly twelve, plays football for the school team, and he goes with me to the matches and assists me to follow the game, and sub-edits the blooming report before it goes in. One point all of us must take in mind is the judgment of youth. It is horribly critical. And it applies to more than football matches!' [32]

Whether a consequence of being a sports writer or whether it was just his passion for sport, John Curtin, liked to link sport to other spheres of life, particularly in writing and speeches. On Elsie's 50th birthday in October 1940 he sent a telegram that included these words:

'Your magnificently played half century has given example and comfort and to me is a constant urge to hold my greatest achievement your love and companionship in life.' [33]

When he was Prime Minister in 1941 he wrote to Adele Mildenhall, his private secretary:

'…; As a member of our team you played the game. Now you form a team with a man of your heart for the highest natural purpose. I know you will again and always play the game. …;' [34]

Complete letter

Adele was to have resigned to spend more time with her fiancé, however, John Curtin's letter, changed her mind at that time as she recalls:

Listen to audio clip

'Well that letter was my undoing. I didn't realise how much we had in common as a secretary and a boss and how much I was going to miss him and the office and after 24 hours I had talked it over with my parents and I went back to Mr Curtin and said, "I'm sorry I don't want to leave; can I stay?" And he said, "Of course, you can." So I have this wonderful letter of a man who spoke from the heart.' [35]

A Sydney Morning Herald report of 6 July 1943 quoted John Curtin's Independence Day broadcast to the United States:

'…; If I liken the Pacific War to a football match, I can say to you that the first half is over, we have kicked off after the interval, and we are going to carry the ball into enemy territory for a smashing victory.' [36]

Full article

Father and son, a good team

Father and son - a good team

JCPML. Records of the Curtin family. Two John Curtins, 1932. JCPML00004/17



Birthday telegram from John to Elsie, Oct 1940

John Curtin's birthday telegram to Elsie on her 'magnificently played half century'

JCPML. Records of the Curtin family. Telegram from John Curtin to Elsie Curtin, 4 October 1940. JCPML00402/35

In 1944, having been Australia's war-time Prime Minister for three years, John Curtin wrote a letter to his cousin Mollie that expressed the weight of his responsibility and indicated he was tiring :

'…; Sinking deep into our chairs is only possible when someone is putting me to some problem. Captaining the government of a nation is a bit more exacting than captain of a football team. I know for I've done both .... Life has given me a pretty good innings…;' [37]

Complete letter

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