Basil John Porter
Born on 24 November 1916 at Forbes, NSW, Basil Porter attended St. Joseph’s College, Sydney, where he was a champion sprinter, winning the 100 yards at the GPS Championships. A diminutive 5ft 6ins and weighing 10 stone, Porter made up for his lack of size with blistering pace. His biggest asset was his great speed. Although very light, he was a courageous little terrier in defence, generally bringing his man down from behind in a similar manner to another Joey’s product, ‘Jockey’ Kelaher.
Porter played club rugby on the wing for Randwick alongside the great Cyril Towers and fans became used to Porter’s characteristic tries when he raced into the open and showed a clean pair of heels to the opposition. With stiff competition from a plethora of fine wingers in Sydney, Porter did not play for New South Wales until 1939 when he went up to Brisbane to play Queensland.
In his first match, he was beaten by the more robust Vaux Nicholson, who crossed for three tries in Queensland’s emphatic 32-15 victory, but recovered to score a try in the return encounter before leaving the field injured. Later in the season, Porter took part in the trials for selection in the Wallaby team to make the tour of a lifetime to the British Isles.
Initially, he was chosen for New South Wales against Victoria and Queensland, and then made the Rest team in the final trial against Australia. In this match, he marked the brilliant Max Carpenter and scored a fabulous try that sealed his selection in the touring team. Porter’s try was captured on Fox Movietone News and the magic-eye camera produced still pictures that were printed in The Referee. They showed Porter receiving a pass from TG Hills on the right wing and cutting infield to sidestep fullback, Mick Clifford, and plant the ball over the try line. However, a little later in the match, the flying winger was left standing when Carpenter dashed down the sideline.
When the touring team was selected, Porter was one of four wingers in the team. The others were Carpenter, Nicholson and Jack Kelaher. At the time, Porter was employed as a salesman and he happily joined his team- mates on the Mooltan and set sail for England. Sadly, the tour was aborted with the news that war had broken out just as the team arrived in England. The tourists just had time to visit Twickenham, fill some sand bags and enjoy a farewell cocktail party put on by the British Sportsman’s Club at The Savoy before returning home.
En route to Australia, the ship docked at Bombay and the fifteen players who had not worn the green Australian jersey had a match against a local team. This proved to be Porter’s only game for Australia.
On 28 May 1940, Porter enlisted in the AIF and had made Corporal by the time he was discharged on 4 April 1946. By then, he was approaching 30 and his best years were behind him. He died in 1964 at the age of 47.