So who knows the real Midget?
Midget Farrelly is an Australian surfing icon yet compared with some of the historical press other past champs receive Midget receives comparatively little media praise. So why is that?
Well the answer to that is in the question itself. It's the choice of the media, and that begs the question why?
It is hard today to imagine the level of press Midget received in the mid-sixties. Let's just say it was rock god status. Then the much publicised fallout with Nat and therefore with Nat's crew of mates who owned the surf media of the day. The subsequent Tracks article that followed claiming Midget's surfing as old hat and "passe" had Midget off the radar pretty much for the back end of the sixties till the 1970 World Title at Bells Beach.
Midget got a very close second to Rolf Arness in 1970. In fact it's said one more wave and Midget would have won that title, and had he caught that wave the history of surfing would have taken a different course. Namely the design ideas would have stayed focused in Australia and not gone to the Hawaiian gun inspired planshapes that resulted from Rolf's win. Midget's inspiration as a board designer obviously would have taken centre stage as all world champs have even to this day...practical or not.
So when we think of champs in Australian surfing, it's not like we don't think of Midget, but the mass of focus tends to go to Nat, MR, Rabbit, TC etc etc. But here's a fact: Midget is the champion of the champions. He was there before anyone else.
I have the pleasure of knowing Midget though I'm not on his Xmas list. I've shared stories and waves with him over the years though I've hardly seen him over the past decade or more. Fact is, I grew up down the road from him and his sister Jane was our resident family babysitter.
From that perspective I have witnessed how powerful Midget's win was In 1964 and how It dragged almost an entire generation into surfing awareness. So powerful was the '64 win that it forever changed the course of his life; it made him Australian surfing's first tall poppy and that made him a target.
In a land known for cutting down tall poppies, before its too late and he can't hear us, what say we all raise a glass in Midget's direction and say thanks for all he contributed to the world of surfing. It's not like Midget has never had a glass raised in his name before, but what's say we raise a united one, friend and foe, old and new, industry and non industry. Midget's a digger, he's fought his battles, he's caught his waves and he's ridden them good.
I saw him the other day and that's what inspired this rave. He wouldn't say but I know he's been in hospital where a huge tumor was removed. Let's not leave it till its to late to say hi and thanks Midget.
PS: A few years back I was out at Queenscliff with Midget. It was a huge swell with waves coming off the Bommie directly onto that Queeny left bank. There were not many of us out though it was offshore and clean. The sets were frequent and there were a lot of them. I had caught a wave in and was standing at the Queeny showers looking out to sea when I saw Midget paddle for the meanest sand dredging ten footer the morning had produced. My first thought was geez that's ballsy. What I saw then was true artistry and forever painted in my mind why Midget was Midget. There was no panic, just perfect choice of line and timing, an art forgotten in today's clamour to be like so and so.....
A quick heads-up for Swellnet readers: Keep an eye out for an interview with Midget in the coming weeks.
My first board was 'midget farrelly' foamy. blue and white with a black plastic single fin.
thanks for a wasted life Midget! ha ha......
i,ve seen three surfers who must have been born in the water. kelly slater,wayne lynch and midget farrelly. it was 1973 easter bells and as an avid 20 yr old surfer came to see m.p. terry fitz. col smith ete. but walked away gobsmacked by midgets surfing. unbelievable! remember him like rod laver,jack brabham,wally lewis,black caviar.i,ll always remeber midget farrelly
I always guessed that Midget deliberately avoided the public and that the decision not to procure attention was his. The little I've read about him has led me to think he's a deep thinker and a bit cantankerous, and has a psych profile at odds with your typical media figure. Paradoxically those people are usually the most interesting. It's just like school...the kid who rushes to answer each question is usually not worth hearing. Point the finger....or the camera, at the pensive types off to the side.
maybe hes just happy to surf and live his life out of the spotlight avoiding attention.
From what I have read/watched of surf media most of those others you mentioned from the past spent their careers seeking out attention and promoting themselves.
I have been out in the surf with him and yes inspiring style and ability are all there. There was no sign of any superior attitude either.
good call marc.Thanked him myself a while back just because...& some of us are getting closer to that end section so better now than too late eh?! Beautiful Surfer-to my generation those two words say it all.clearly ripped off in peurto rico world titles with a 2nd & was holding his own in Hawaii in the mid 70's on that pink bd.Last time i saw him surf was a bit bitter sweet,it was nth steyne a couple of yrs ago,solid peak,he goes left with a top turn only to get dropped in on so he effortlessly swings his mal 180'right&another drop in!he straightens out,goes in,showers &leaves...to them he was just some old guy but to me that one left go right remains forever a thing of beauty.Thanks Midget
Our first world champion. A hero and an inspiration to us all at Narrabeen in the early days and still is. A gentleman both in and out of the water. Not one to thump his chest, unlike some others.
The best board I ever owned was a 10 foot, three stringer Farrelly. Phil Edwards inspired. Cost me 53 pounds 10 shillings in 1965. Wish I still had it today.
Midget recently wrote a story on Gows boatshed in Palmy, published in Pacific Longboarder and latest Surfers Journal. A great read. I hope he writes a few more tales.
We love ya Midget!
On the Trigger bros site -celebrating 50 years of surfing- a letter from Midget in reply to John Jolly re a surfboard order in 1968, $115 for a custom,add $ 4 for a pinline.
a classic read.