Thursday, November 21, 2013

Must-read book on Buster Farrer

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Buster Farrer is arguably one of the most famous members of the South African sports retail industry – even though his Farrers Sports store was hidden away in King William’s Town. His extraordinary accomplishments in eight sporting codes – with national colours in three - have now been recorded in a must-read book by journalist Colin Bryden, called All-rounder – the Buster Farrer Story. 

Fellow sports industry double-Springbok Tony Harris (cricket and rugby) visited Farrer in his King William;s Town store, Farrer's Sports.
In the foreword Peter Pollock sets the tone for this tale of perseverance, character, humility and focus with the following observation: Ask me who is the nicest, most talented all-round ball-player I’ve ever met and played against, and my answer would be immediately – Buster Farrer.”

Buster Farrer and his wife Maureen.

Pollock further describes him as the “quietly-spoken, ever-smiling, unassuming Dalian from the sleepy hollow of King William’s Town.”

This is an observation that will be echoed by the many people who have met him on and off the sports field (or court). 

Buster Farrer with Peter Pollock, Colin Bland, Peter van der Merwe and Graeme Pollock in Johannesburg before the Australian cricket tour.

Former cricket Springboks Graeme Pollock, the late Johnny Waite and Buster Farrer.
Despite growing up in an era when sports was played for recreation and as a personal challenge, Farrer was elected to represent South Africa at full international level in hockey and cricket (he played in six tests between 1961 and 1964) and at veterans level in squash. He also played tennis at Queens and Wimbledon in the 1950’s and won provincial colours in cricket, hockey, tennis, squash, golf and bowls. To add variety, he rode the Argus Cycle Tour, and ran the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons.
Farrer played in the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 1956.
Representing South Africa in hockey against (then) Rhodesia in 1971.
Farrer represented Border in golf.
The author, Bryden, is a well-known sports journalist, who has reported extensively on cricket tours and tests, rugby internationals, the Olympic Games and tennis at Wimbledon. He has won the SAB Sports Journalist of the Year award twice.

The book is available in a soft cover (R200) and a Collector’s Limited Edition at R300 – but only 20 of the 300 of these copies printed are still left. They can be ordered from Farrer’s son Colin, sales director at LGB Distributors at His other son, Mike, and his wife Janet run a sporting goods agency in the Eastern Cape.

Christmas 2007: Back: Merisa and Colin Farrer, Mike Farrer, Michael Farrer, Michael Wood, Dave Wood. Middle: Janet Farrer, Megan Farrer, Maureen and Buster Farrer, Simon Farrer, Lynn Wood. Front: Caroline Wood and Diana Farrer.
There are also countrywide launches of the book, namely at the Bryanston Sports Club on November 28, Johannesburg Sportsman’s Club – Wanderers on 29 November and Buff’s Sports Club on 5 December. The first launch was at Grey High School on November 13.

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