Frederick Graham Doran
Fred Doran was one of the least-known New South Wales representatives of his era, as he never donned State colours at home and only played a minor role on his only tour, the highly successful 1925 visit to New Zealand.
He had appeared once against the touring 1925 All Blacks, for Ted Thorn’s XV in the tour finale, but had not really threatened to win a full State berth. Although chosen as a fly half, Doran’s only matches on tour were both played at centre – hardly surprising when one realises that Tommy Lawton, who was then at the peak of his brilliant career, was also in the party and three five-eighths had been chosen. Lawton played nine of the 11 matches and Doran was one of four inside backs to receive little field time; the four played only 11 matches between them.
Three of these four players – Randwick centre ‘Patsy Mulligan, Doran and youthful Western Suburbs centre Syd King – had a pleasant three-week trip around New Zealand before being required to front up for the tour’s seventh match, against Poverty Bay-East Coast. This was probably one of the easiest matches on the schedule, which may be why as many first-choice players as possible were rested, but the introduction of so many players who had not seen much action had a predictable effect on combinations and the match was far harder than it needed to be. A torrential downpour, complete with vivid lightning flashes and deafening thunderclaps, was not going to help this untried lineup either, and the home side employed a bustling, bruising approach that threw the tourists off stride for one of the few times on tour. Doran played a sound game at inside centre, having a hand in one try and scoring the third himself, putting the match out of reach of the willing locals, but most of the praise on the day went to local men.
Doran’s only other match was the last on the programme, which was played after the Test against a brilliant All Black team that included 13 members of the Invincibles (a 14th tourist was a replacement during the match).
Lawton was the only member of the rearguard to back up from the Test but this time the second-stringers had a field day, running out with a 32-6 victory marked by much brilliant back play. Leading the way was Doran, who had an outstanding game and was one of the stars – had he been given this sort of chance earlier in the tour, who knows what may have happened – and his outstanding running and passing were features of the game. He scored the opening try and had a hand in many others as the touring team racked up an impressive win in perfect conditions. Although he had played so well in the tour’s last game and was only 22-years-old, Doran was never again called to State colours.
His star faded quickly, as he was never again used in a match against a touring team and others moved ahead in the selection race.