Herbert Franks Daly
Daly first caught the rugby bug when he and his family made the trek from Mudgee to Orange to catch the 1897 match between New Zealand and Central West. Although well beaten by 27-3, the local team put up a better than expected showing and a rising young star, Stan Wickham, may have caught the eye of an impressionable teenager.
Daly quickly made a mark in country football, playing for Mudgee-Gulgong, his local club, from 1900 and by 1906 was good enough to win a place in the Combined Country team that faced Metropolitan in what was effectively a State trial. Although he did not make the cut that first time, Daly was back a year later and this time he was rewarded with his State cap, playing against Queensland and Western Australia, although missing the year's big games against the touring All Blacks.
He again won State honours the following season and did get a match against the touring Anglo-Welsh side, as well as gaining a place against Queensland. By now regarded as one of Australia's better centres, his selection for the 1908-09 First Wallabies did not raise many eyebrows.
At first it seemed Daly may get a decent number of matches on tour, as he played two of the warm-up matches before the side left Australia, scoring a try against Victoria and kicking four conversions against Western Australia, but once the team reached England the lightweight centre (he was 10st, or 63kg) quickly became one of the forgotten men.
The Wallabies, like a number of early touring teams, had a few players who hardly got a run, while others were worked until they dropped, and it was Daly's misfortune to be in the former category.
He had his first match against Penygraig, kicking a couple of goals in the 11-3 victory, but was not used again for another six weeks. Then he played against Lancashire, scoring a try in a 12-6 win, but sat out another month before getting his next match.
As a Christmas Eve present he was given the North Glamorgan game and three weeks later played against Plymouth.
That was it for Daly, who must have had a rather depressing time of it as there is no mention that he ever suffered injury, which caused some of those long absences from the team. Although he hardly featured in the tour plans – the selectors were criticised for being too conservative in their choices even at the time – Daly did fashion a decent record and he never played in a losing Australian team – something few of his contemporaries who played as many as six matches could claim.
He was considered to have a sharp side-step while his defence was sound and he was always prepared to dive on the loose ball. After returning to Australia Daly disappeared back into country football, where he continued to represent his local club for another two years.