There is always more to the superstar sportsman than the person we see at the ground, on the highlight reels or hear from in interviews. And Dean Jones, the legend, he of the tied Test heroics, was no different.
The fittest of cricketers, a tireless worker for charity and a committed dad, life took a toll on his health. His close cricketing mates knew for a decade he had been managing a heart issue. He did his best to keep healthy but, like most ageing sportsman, his body was feeling the effects of his time in the limelight.
Dean Jones in his prime in 1987 and (inset) with his son Koby Dean Hamilton.Credit:Fairfax
He had reason to stay fit: to enjoy the lives of his beautiful kids. His daughters have gone public to express their sadness about their father’s passing.
Today, we hear about how it has impacted his 11-year-old son, Koby Dean Hamilton.
Like with so many families these days, it is complicated. Koby is his son to Kerri-Anne Hamilton, a woman he knew for more than 20 years. And for almost all of that time, she has remained out of the public eye. But Jones was proud of his boy. And Hamilton wanted his story told.
She was devastated by Jones’ sudden death, but she took some comfort from her son’s words.
‘‘It’s OK, Mum,’’ Koby said. ‘‘I know my dad loved me.’’
That’s how Koby reacted to the tragic passing of his dad on Thursday night. Koby’s last contact with his hero was two nights before Jones suffered a massive heart attack in India. They spoke on FaceTime – how a lot of their relationship had been conducted.
On Tuesday night, Jones took his son on a guided tour via FaceTime of the studio where he was working in India. He popped Brett Lee and other cricketing celebrities on the phone. It made Koby’s night.
Since his passing, tributes have poured in for one of the modern-day cricketing greats and there have been beautiful words said about the legend that is ‘‘Deano’’. I spoke to Hamilton in the hours after Jones’ death.
It’s an awful time for his wife and his other kids. I’m not trying to step out of line. I want to speak to you for Koby.
"Heartbroken,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘It’s an awful time for his wife and his other kids. I’m not trying to step out of line. I want to speak to you for Koby. I don’t want Koby to go to school and for kids to say, ‘we didn’t see you’. How do we know you were his son. He deserves acknowledgement.
‘‘Dean was always trying to look after everyone; his family and also me and Koby. He made everyone feel special and loved.
‘‘It was never easy for him. Deano didn’t meet Koby until he was almost two. He just said to me one day, ‘This is silly, I need to meet him’. Anyway, I didn’t need to introduce them. I told Koby that there was someone here to see him and told him it was his daddy. He just raced to him, tripped down the stairs and jumped into his arms.
‘‘He always made sure Koby and I were OK. I am very respectful to his family and he loved his wife and his girls. It’s not my intention to cause problems. He had a son and he loves his son. I’ve always taken what Dean could give us and that’s always been enough.’’
Koby would have daily video chats with Jones. As an outstanding young baseballer and excellent cricketer, they’d talk sport.
‘‘Koby would always wait with such anticipation for Dean to call,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘He looked up to him and he would have questions written down to ask him because he was so knowledgeable. They’d talk stats for ages and he’d mentor him in his sport; how to swing [the bat], how to think.
‘‘He always said he would give anything to have a relationship with Koby, but he never wanted to hurt anyone. He put everything on the line for us and I’ll never forget that. I know it’s so complicated, but his dedication to Koby and all his kids it says everything … He gave Koby a voice and he had a voice in his life. Right now he [Koby] is shocked. He was so proud of his dad. His dad was, is and will always be his hero.’’
Tough Bryce to pay
If Bryce Cartwright was an American sports star, his story would be a Netflix documentary. He has been through so much: the drama surrounding his messy exit from Penrith; being the face of anti-vaxxing in the NRL; another messy exit when he walked away from the Gold Coast Titans in July.
So it’s not surprising football was often an afterthought. And he doesn’t hide from the fact that he has brought most of the attention upon himself.
‘‘It does have an impact on you and I’ve taken steps to make things better,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m getting help, seeing someone to talk to. I copped a lot, but there were threats against my kids.’’
Bryce Cartwright doesn’t hide from the fact he has brought most of the spotlight upon himself this season.Credit:Getty
That came when he refused a flu shot in May as the COVID-19 crisis escalated and the NRL tried to get the competition restarted. He denies he ever tried to force his views down anyone’s throat. He is happy for people to do what they want and he does what he does for his family. Simple as that.
Cartwright takes his role as the father of two young children very seriously and now knows he needs to resurrect his career for himself and his family.
"I know what’s next [without the NRL] … digging ditches,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m prepared to do that, but I really do believe I’ve got something more to offer. I’m training with [sprint coach] Roger Fabri and I’m back doing weights. I’ve never lost the desire. I love rugby league. It just didn’t work for me on the Gold Coast.’’
It was a tough week for the NRL media department. Popular pair Tim Ashworth and Tom Gallimore were part of the massive cuts announced on Monday. It follows the exit of corporate affairs chief Liz Deegan. The NRL has a big media day tomorrow launching ‘‘50 days of footy’’ covering the finals series and State of Origin.
Gower night of shame an eye-opener for V’landys
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has been blindsided by News Corp’s campaign to have Craig Gower retrospectively awarded the Dally M Medal he sacrificed in 2003. V’landys offered to look into the case without full knowledge of the history of the events and the people involved.
The Dally Ms were cancelled in 2003 after the NRL failed to settle a dispute with the Rugby League Players Association about pay and conditions. V’landys has a deep knowledge of rugby league, but was not aware of an incident allegedly involving Gower while he was playing in the 2005 Jack Newton Celebrity Golf Classic on the Sunshine Coast. It may appear irrelevant in the argument until you consider two things.
First, it was Wayne Pearce’s family that was deeply impacted by Gower’s actions. Gower is alleged to have groped Pearce’s daughter and had an altercation with a teenage Mitchell Pearce on a drunken night. Gower initially denied any wrongdoing, but later admitted in a statement he had pushed the boundaries that night. Penrith later stripped Gower of the captaincy and fined him $100,000, with $70,000 suspended.
The relevance of that incident is that Pearce snr is a member of the ARL Commission. Pearce has also been backed heavily and publicly by V’landys. Pearce came up with the six-again rule change earlier this year, something V’landys championed. And Pearce was the face and driving force behind the highly successful Project Apollo.
V’landys was known to be upset when made aware of the history between Pearce and Gower. He is believed to have apologised to Pearce. V’landys is a father with strong family values.
Those driving the Gower campaign will no doubt try to make out the incident is not an issue. Behind the scenes, though, it is.
Secondly, the person who planted the seed to have Gower’s Dally M retrospectively awarded was current RLPA boss Clint Newton. Clint is also the son of Jack Newton, the man who ran the event at which the Gower incident is alleged to have occurred.
David Gallop was running the NRL in 2003 and says the cancellation of the Dally Ms that year was the fault of the players’ association. Gallop will not go on the record about the events surrounding the cancellation.
However, the man who ran the players’ association then, Anthony Butterfield, says it was the NRL and News Ltd who were responsible.
Butterfield recalls the fateful meeting with the NRL, after which the Dally Ms were called off. ‘‘We said that we were not coming to the awards night if we could not agree on three basic issues that we were in dispute over,’’ Butterfield said. ‘‘David’s [Gallop] first comment was we can’t negotiate with a gun to our head. He then pulled a bit of a swifty. He went downstairs and told everyone the gig [Dally Ms] was off.
‘‘We went down and the media told us … I lost respect for David that day, but he confided in me later that his boss, Rupert [Murdoch], was not happy with what was going on with unions interfering with their product. News Ltd were the ones who created the mayhem and now they want to be seen as the head cheerleaders and as the peacemakers. News Ltd and the NRL were one and the same back then [News had a 50 per cent stake in the game].’’
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