Frederick Richard Vaughan Timbury
- 112Wallaby Number
Fred Timbury was one of the most colourful characters in Queensland sporting history. A brilliant all-round sportsman. Timbury was proficient in cricket, rugby and tennis and represented Queensland in all three sports. In addition, he played Test rugby for Australia against the All Blacks in 1910. Born on 12 July 1885 at Gladstone, Timbury was educated at Townsville Grammar School between 1899 and 1901. While there, he did well academically and excelled at sport as well. Tall and athletic, he possessed a rare turn of speed for a big man. He began his senior rugby in 1903 in the Charters Towers competition and made an immediate impact as a lineout expert. The well-built Timbury usually played as a loose forward, where he could exploit his pace and weight. In Charters Towers, he represented the Natives team, which was led by the immortal Tom ‘Rusty’ Richards.
After a successful season in 1903, Natives won the Charters Towers competition and secured the premiership. After determining on a career in the law, Timbury obtained articles of clerkship in order to qualify as a Solicitor and moved to Roma - 500 kms west of Brisbane, where he played cricket, rugby and tennis. He was a big man, standing 186 cms and weighing 95 kgs and played cricket in Roma as a fast bowler with a long, sinewy run to the wicket. In the 1904/05 cricket season, Timbury was selected in the Queensland Country cricket team to meet Brisbane. Bert Ironmonger, the left arm spinner from Ipswich, was one of his team mates. After initially missing selection, Timbury was a late inclusion in the Queensland team for the southern tour in December that year, when ‘Rocco’ Atkins was unable to tour.
Besides Timbury, there were a several prominent footballers in the Queensland cricket team. ‘Poley’ Evans played in Australia’s first two Test matches in 1899, while Jimmy Carew, brother of Test forward, Paddy Carew, and Tassie Long, the tall Queensland rugby forward, were also well known footballers. On 16 December 1904, Timbury made his debut for Queensland against Victoria in Melbourne and he was forced to labour for 17 overs in Victoria’s mammoth score of 593 without taking a wicket. In all, Timbury played six matches for Queensland from 1904 to 1907 but this was at a time when Queensland was not included in the Sheffield Shield and its first class matches were few and far between.
Ironmonger was not included in the team and he had to wait for a further nine years to make his first class debut. Timbury played his last match for Queensland on 30 November 1907 against the MCC at the Brisbane Cricket Ground in which he took a catch and secured useful bowling figures of 10-3-1-27. His best performance was 4/46 against New South Wales in 1905 in Sydney. After qualifying as a Solicitor in Roma, Timbury linked up with Past Grammars in the QRU club competition in 1909 in Brisbane. Timbury missed selection in the Queensland team to visit Sydney that year but he got his chance later in the season through an invitation to play for Valleys against the touring Newtown team, which was returning from a tour of North Queensland. After the Wallabies returned from their tour, Newtown, the Sydney premiers in 1908, made a tour of North Queensland, playing a series of games there.
When they returned to Brisbane, they challenged the local premier club, Valleys, to a match. The Brisbane premiers were without their Wallaby lock, Willie Canniffe, and invited Timbury to play. Newtown had the Wallaby locks, Paddy McCue and Peter Burge (a guest player) in their ranks but Timbury dominated the lineouts and outplayed his more illustrious opponents. As a result, Timbury was chosen to represent Queensland in the interstate matches in Brisbane as a lock forward with Pat Murphy as his partner. Queensland did rather well in the first game before going down 8-3. In the return encounter, Timbury won a lineout with a great leap that led eventually to Phil Carmichael closing his long career with a penalty goal, although his side suffered another defeat by 13-6.
By the time the 1910 season arrived, New South Wales had been hit with the great Wallaby defection to rugby league, when 14 Wallabies defected. Queenslanders had high hopes that the disheartening succession of defeats at the hands of New South Wales would be halted. Timbury played in the first interstate clash of the season in Sydney. New South Wales could field only four Wallabies – Danny Carroll, Ward Prentice, Tom Griffin and Norm Row – but still defeated Queensland 13-3.
Queensland had now played a dozen matches against its southern rival since its last win in 1908, when the teams lined up for the return encounter. Although New South Wales raced in two early tries, the Queensland forwards took charge with Murphy, all wire and whipcord, the broad and heavy Emmerson and Farmer shining in the loose. Playing at number eight, Timbury again ruled the lineouts against Leo Reynolds and Ted Fahey to give his side a surfeit of ball.
When big Emmerson crashed over for a try, Queensland had won by 8 points to 6. At the end of the game, the sporting Sydney crowd gave the Queensland players a wonderful reception and they singled out Timbury for his wonderful work in the lineouts. It was obvious that Timbury would be earmarked for a Test position against the touring All Blacks. The Maoris also toured in 1910 but Timbury was unavailable for Queensland’s match with the visitors. However, he was available for the State’s two games against the All Blacks. In the first match, Queensland trailed 11-0 at halftime but fought back before losing 19-15. In the second game, which the New Zealanders won easily by 21-3, Timbury again showed his lineout ability and was named in the Australian team for the first Test match in Sydney along with Pat Murphy and Brickey Farmer from Queensland.
Since the QRU felt unable to afford the cost of hosting a Test match, all three Tests were to be played between 25th June and 2nd July 1910 in Sydney. In the first Test match, Timbury was the only Australian to rival ‘Bolla’ Francis in the lineouts and, for a big man, was exceptionally fast in the open. The Australians lost 6-0 but were successful two days later in the second Test match. This game was played on a Monday afternoon and Timbury was again mixing it with Francis when he suffered a severe knee injury and was replaced by Leo Reynolds. Ruled out of the third Test by the injury, Timbury returned to Roma to recuperate, but the injury virtually ended his rugby career.
He did represent Queensland in tennis and continued to play cricket. In 1920, he played for a Darling Downs XI in Toowoomba against the touring MCC cricket team, captained by JWHT Douglas. Back in Roma, Timbury concentrated on his legal practice and was a leading citizen of the town, becoming Mayor of Roma and investing in the search for oil. He became a director of Roma Oil Exploration, an oil and gas company,that discovered crude oil at its No.1 drill site, which resulted in the first oil boom. His importance in Roma was recognised when Timbury Street in Roma was named after him. In later life, Timbury became interested in the outback and he wrote a book on the inland about the Bradfield and Idriess Plains entitled The Battle for the Inland– the Case for the Bradfield and Idriess Plains.The book was published in 1944 by Angus and Robertson in Sydney as part of the series – The Battle for Australia and it contained a foreword by the noted Australian writer, Ion L. Idriess. Timbury died on 14 April 1945 in Sydney. He is one of the great all-round Queensland sportsmen of the early years and he achieved his success far from metropolitan Brisbane.