A run he’ll never forget

By Jack Waters

A 65-year-old pair of Dunlop Volleys wouldn’t be the first thing you’d expect to see on someone’s bedside table but for 90 year old Maleny local Allan Owen they’re one of his most treasured possessions.

Allan was a torchbearer for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, running the one-mile (1.6km) leg through the heart of Eumundi to the cheers and elation of the local crowd.

At that time Allan was the leading cricketer in Eumundi and was a notable fast bowler for 25 years for the Sunshine Coast Cricket Association.

His career highlight of taking 9/24 in a first-class country match at Albert Park Oval in Gympie was testament to his selection in the torch-bearing team, which saw him run with 17 of the region’s best athletes in, you guessed it, his beloved pair of Dunlop Volleys.

These are the fond memories Allan holds close as he cherishes every moment with his family at the Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital after a recent health setback.

A dairy farmer for 75 years, Allan spent pretty much his entire life doing what he loves – milking cows and relishing the chilly mornings on properties at Eumundi, Peachester and Maleny.

He was involved in showing cattle at the Royal Brisbane Show, taking out first place one year with his Supreme Champion Illawarra.

Closer to home, he’s been an integral part of the Maleny Show Society and remains a life member of both the Witta Recreational Club and the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA).

For all these accolades, however, it’s clear his surprisingly well-maintained pair of Dunlop Volleys hold a special place in his heart.

So much so that Allan was outraged when he heard Evonne Goolagong Cawley claim to have the oldest pair of Dunlop Volleys in the nation.

Luckily for him he had every right to be, with his pair proven to be older than Evonne’s in a competition run by The Courier Mail to try to find who exactly owned the oldest pair of Dunlop Volleys. In a cruel twist, however, Allan came in second to another entrant.

“Somebody had a pair of sandshoes that looked like the dog had gotten hold of them,” Allan said.

Despite this, Allan’s Volleys sit proudly atop his Olympic shrine beside his hospital bed, featuring a photo of him running through Eumundi, a part of the torch he carried, his Olympic bronze medal received for participating in the run and photos of the faces that made up the rest of the team.

And funnily enough, Allan is actually sharing his ward with a lady that used to work for Dunlop.

Main image: Allan with his treasured Dunlop Volleys and other memories