How Jack Neave Oval got its name

Unsung Heroes: The people who mow lawns at ovals do a great community service.
Unsung Heroes: The people who mow lawns at ovals do a great community service.

At every sporting club, there’s someone who mows the grass.

They usually go unheralded.

Many players are oblivious to these people. Many sports folk are also oblivious to the people who their grounds are named after.

Jeffrey Neave, 53, wrote recently on the Lost Newcastle Facebook page about how Jack Neave Oval at Cardiff South came to be.  

Jack Neave was his grandfather.

“He was nicknamed Gargy. This was because his first grandchild couldn't say grandfather, but Gargy was close enough.

“All through my childhood, our weekend visits to Gargy had to work around his time at the soccer field, where he’d spend day after day tending to fences, lawns or seating.”

At the time, he never questioned why his grandad did this. 

An old photo of Jeffrey Neave and Jack Neave.

An old photo of Jeffrey Neave and Jack Neave.

Even in his 70s, Gargy would work at the field, sometimes in hot weather.

“When I was a teenager, I vaguely wondered why he did it. Certainly, there was no pay and gratitude seemed thin,” he said.

“He certainly loved soccer. If you ever sat next to him at a match, he was unnaturally vocal. I'd never heard him swear like that in normal situations,” he said.

Jeffrey suspects that the volunteer work at the soccer field “satisfied him deeply”.

“Giving back to the community and kids was an obvious angle, but maybe cathartic if your own childhood was less than nurturing,” he said.

When Gargy was still alive, the soccer field was named after him.

“I've always feared a local councillor would change the name to something else to appease a minority, or as payback to an arrogant developer or some other office jockey,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey said his grandfather worked hard at the field “for all the years of his life that I remember”.

“The field is not named after him because of a cash donation, or social standing, or from some connection with the mayor.

“He was just like you or I, but he gave so much of his time and effort to the community, and to soccer, for reasons I'm sure only he fully knows. Good one Gargy xxx.”

Jeffrey told Topics that he believed that Gargy’s work at the soccer field was partly related to the death of his wife.

“He definitely would have felt on his own. He was looking for a bit more of a purpose, probably,” he said.

When Jeffrey was writing the piece, he was laying on the floor and listening to music.

“I realised after about 10 minutes – even though I wasn’t sad as such – I had tears rolling down the sides of my face onto the floor,” he said.

“It was kind of like a real release. It was strange.”

A trip down memory lane can do that.

Rocket Science

The landing of two rocket side boosters.

The landing of two rocket side boosters.

University of Newcastle Professor of Electrical Engineering, Christopher M Kellett, was mightily impressed with this week’s rocket launch by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The professor wrote on the Conversation website that one of the most visually spectacular elements of the test flight was the simultaneous upright landing of the rocket’s two side boosters.

“Standard practice has been to jettison such boosters into the ocean, but SpaceX safely lands these boosters and can then reuse them on subsequent flights,” he wrote.

The underlying principle that made the landing possible was “automatic feedback control”.

He wrote that feedback control was “so common and widespread that it frequently goes unnoticed”.

“However, this hidden technology drives most, if not all, of our technology – and even describes the fundamentals of how humans and animals behave.”