Super ‘Slack Mac’ Macpherson

By Robert Muir

“He’s the most versatile sportsman ever to come out of Corowa,” well known local identity John Fraser said of former Corowa resident, sportsman and school teacher John (Slack Mac) Macpherson.

“He’s the best bat I’ve seen in local cricket by a stretch,” Corowa Cricket Club President Paul Lavis said.

Macpherson, who was appointed to Corowa High School as a science teacher in 1971 and moved to Ballina in 1993 as a science/ distant education teacher at a newly opened Southern Cross K-12 School, has renewed one of the many sports in Corowa he used to play.

For three years, the recently turned 70-year-old retired school teacher has played in the annual Marcus Fraser Ambrose event at Corowa Golf Club.

“I was fortunate to supervise Marcus and his brother Adam for sport,” Macpherson told the Free Press of his school teaching days.

“I still joke I taught Marcus all he knows about golf!

“His contribution to golf is inspirational and the money he generates for the club is fantastic.”

Corowa Golf Course is one of the best courses Macpherson has had the privilege to play on adding, “the bent greens still rate the best in the country”.

It was where he obtained his first official golf handicap, of nine, at age 21 years, and where he played once a week.

Macpherson got down to a two-handicap, was runner up to Terry Kennedy in the 1984 club championship, was a member of the 1983 pennant winning team and, with Alan Maquade, was a foursomes champion in 1986.

Before hitting the senior cricket field in Corowa in 1971, Macpherson was selected at state level when aged 15 years in Sydney and in the Australian Schoolboys team as a leg spinning/allrounder.

The highlight of his 20 years with Corowa Cricket Club was the entry into Wangaratta District Cricket Association “for our young team”.

“Within three years we tasted success and continued to dominate for many years culminating in a number of premierships,” he said.

His best season was 1988–89 with 461 runs at the marvellous average of 115.25.

“Slack Mac was still unbelievable when he was in his last year with us, at age 38 or 39,” club president Paul Lavis said.

“He was unbelievable. When he and Paul Miegel were batting together (at no 3, 4 or 5), we’d just put our feet up and know they’d bat all day.

“Paul was a top batsman, having played A Grade in Adelaide before coming to Corowa.”

Corowa girls cricket team won the state-wide Marie Cornish trophy in 1987 and the Riverina girls side claimed the regional championship in 1989. Both teams were coached by John Macpherson.

When he arrived in Corowa in 1971 Macpherson had played Rugby Union and soccer; had never played AFL.

One game with Wahgunyah, a season and a half with Corowa then onto the field in the last quarter with the seniors, lining up against Mick (the Galloping Gasometer) Nolan.

A senior career spanning 90 senior games, at centre half forward, followed.

“He hadn’t even seen a game of footy on TV before he came to Corowa,” Corowa Spiders footballer of over 100 senior games, Jim Eyers, said.

“John was a good footballer – he had ability – but was a better cricketer.

“He was a most natural sportsman I’ve ever seen, certainly the best cricketer I’ve ever seen in this area.”

In 1980, a stint at Berrigan Football Club for two seasons resulted in a 1980 premiership and best finals player. He then coached Wahgunyah for two seasons before retirement.

From 1979 to 1986, Macpherson played at Corowa Tennis Club being singles champion from 1979 to 1981, men’s doubles champion with John Fraser from 1979 to 1982 and simultaneously mixed champion with Marion Larcombe from 1979 to 1982.

“He was a helluva sportsman,” Corowa Lawn Tennis Club Life Member Don Spencer said.

“I won seven club champion titles and it could have been 10 or 11 if not for John!

“He was very athletic, about 6’2” or 6’3” and after he’d serve, he’d be right at the net. He had a slice and a very powerful forehand.

“There was nothing he couldn’t turn his hand to.”

Men’s champion on seven occasions at Corowa Squash Club is also on John Macpherson’s resume, during his time from 1972 to 1990.

What about bowls? In 1993, Macpherson and Nigel Smith were pairs champions at Corowa RSL Bowls Club.

Some sporting background and list of achievements!

And that nickname ‘Slack Mac’? John Fraser explained: “He wore a tie to school, had a jumper on, it was pretty warm this day, no-one else had a jumper on, he went into the staff room, took his jumper off and had stuff, sauce etcetera, all over his tie!”

Now in retirement from his school teaching career, Macpherson’s handicap from two in Corowa, has only gone out, in 30 years, to just five!

John (Slack Mac) Macpherson could call, or play, all the shots in all the sports.