Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Book Review: Confessions of a Thirteenth Man

By Mark Young - posted Monday, 15 November 1999

This is a great holiday-read about families, friends and the culture of cricket. John Harms is a PK (Pastor's Kid) from a Lutheran family steeped in sport, red wine and a "Gospel not law" approach to life. John, or "Darkie" to his mates, goes on tour in his beloved 1982 Camira, following the Australia-England 1998/99 Cricket Test Series.

His Camira is a "beautiful car", but beset with a speed wobble, oil and water problems and bumper bars that need bolstering with tape. John likens this in a way to his own process of growing up, as he approaches the high speeds of 40 without the security of a Test career, wife & kids, or a Geelong premiership.

There are some hilarious moments as he crosses the Nullabor, goes undercover in the Barmy Army, and recalls childhood stories of cricket, Christmas and romance (although it's a little hard at times to ascertain where childhood ends and adulthood begins).


Throughout the chronicling of the Ashes series, won by Mark Taylor's boys 3-1, John is tormented by memories of his unrequited love for "Grace", a Brisbane actress set in the mould of Uma Thurman.

In some ways, John ends up portraying himself as the performer within a cast of loveable characters known as Spoiler, Sparrow, Kruges, Bimbo, Sheeds and, of course, his cat Ablett. The cricket writing reflects a deep love for (and knowledge about) the game, its history, culture and place in Australian society.

The tribute to the two Captains' final speeches revealing "a sense of the fraternity, which is genuine, (and) more important than the antagonism, which is stylised" is moving.

It would be great for the author to apply his democratic gaze to the world of politics, with its traditions, characters and famous tied matches. Well-worth a read over the summer months.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Mark Young is the Social Responsibility Advocate for the Uniting Church (Queensland Synod)

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Mark Young
Related Links
Mark Young's Home Page
Uniting Church (Queensland Synod)
Photo of Mark Young
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy