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Having a beer with Darrell Eastlake wasn’t just social, it was an event

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Darrell Eastlake has died aged 75. (AAP Image/Channel 9)

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    Darrell Eastlake was a knockabout larrikin who rose to legend status as a sporting commentator.

    He died yesterday at 75, in an aged care facility on the Central Coast of NSW, having suffered from by Alzheimer’s, dementia, and emphysema for most of the last decade.

    Having a beer with Darrell wasn’t just social, it was an event, especially in his kingdom of Gosford, where he held court.

    Walking along the street to the appointed venue, every second man or woman stopped to greet him, to shake his hand, or just pat him on the back.

    He didn’t know 95 per cent of them, but they all received a beaming smile, a firm handshake, and a ‘nice to see you’ – or ‘nice to see you again’ to those he recognised from an earlier chance meeting.

    And it was the same in the drinking hole, or the restaurant.

    It was a ritual, an event.

    As a kid, he loved all sport, but particularly surfing and rugby league.

    It was the former that got him started after kicking off his adult life as a Qantas luggage handler.

    He progressed to making surfboards, and owning a surf shop in Cronulla, to giving surf reports on 2UW.

    The next step was calling the Knights on Newcastle’s NBN before starting his four decades on Channel Nine’s ‘Wide World of Sports’, calling rugby league, surfing, motorsports, Formula One, and weightlifting.

    He was the first to call State of Origin over a decade, from 1983 to 1993, but it was the weightlifting that provided the humour with the always evident passion.

    In one tournament his booming voice drowned out his peers on other stations, so organisers moved Darrell into the stairwell. But he could still be heard in the commentary box, even though it was some distance away.

    That signature voice was so strong it sent the volume needle way to the right on the panel, and when he got really excited, which was often, the voice made the needle bend hard against the stopper.

    But that was Darrell Eastlake, and his unbridled passion, to a tee.

    He just loved sport, his wife Julie, and loved a beer with a smoke afterwards. In return, his listeners loved him for his genuine passion, his vast general knowledge on the run, and his delivery.

    He made sport lively, and always interesting.

    We farewell a great bloke, who made an even greater impact and contribution to sport calling. That recognition is reserved for the very few.

    He’s gone, but will never be forgotten for as long as the media covers sport. And that, of course, will be forever.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • April 20th 2018 @ 9:05am
      Hanrahan said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      “The next step was calling the Knights on Newcastle’s NBN3 before starting his four decades on Channel Nine’s “Wide World of Sports” calling rugby league…”
      The Knights first played in 1988 so I think you may be wrong there David.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 6:18pm
        BrainsTrust said | April 20th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

        That would have been Newcastle’s local rugby league competition.
        I can remember it being shown because the family hoiliday home that and the Newcastle ABC were the two clearest channels.

        • April 21st 2018 @ 8:38am
          Kangajets said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          Newcastle rugby league used to be live on channel 3 on Saturday afternoons

          The Newcastle competition was huge back in the day , especially before televised Sydney games

      • April 21st 2018 @ 10:15am
        Kangajets said | April 21st 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Is this the Gavin Hanrahan that played for the knights ??

    • April 20th 2018 @ 9:08am
      jimmmy said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      I must admit he was someone I loved to hate, His NSW bias got under my Maroon skin but I will admit he made Origin compulsive viewing and his love of the game was plain to see. I did think though that his style didn’t translate well to the Chess world championships.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 20th 2018 @ 9:54am
      steveng said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      Darrell Eastlake is a legend of sport commentary and especially rugby league and SOO! SOO was not the same without Darrel Eastlake, he’s given me as I’m sure many many fans of sport an unbelievable experiences in sport. As you said David, he made sport lively, always interesting and he especially made sports commentary have a greater impact than what it really was. That was Darrell Eastlake, there will never ever be another Darrell Eastlake, that’s for sure! Its a sad day and RIP Darrell Eastlake ‘you will never be forgotten’ that voice and passion is legendary!

    • Roar Guru

      April 20th 2018 @ 12:44pm
      Lano said | April 20th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      Nice work David.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 3:17pm
      Worlds Biggest said | April 20th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

      Thanks Lordy, Big Darrell was an icon in the broadcasting world. By all accounts a terrific, larger than life character. As a kid I used to love listening to his booming voice be it for Origin, Surf Lifesaving or weightlifting.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 5:14pm
      GWSingapore said | April 20th 2018 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

      While on RIPs. Wrestling’s “only living legend” also passed away yesterday. Vale Bruno Sammartino.

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