Neville sinks teeth into storytelling and is rewarded with prize

STORYTELLER: Neville Smith won third prize in the short story section of the 2014 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards for The Accountant. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0624banjo1

STORYTELLER: Neville Smith won third prize in the short story section of the 2014 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards for The Accountant. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0624banjo1

ENDURING weeks of cricket training without playing a game has inspired a prizewinning story in the 2014 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards.

Thomas McPherson from Werribee in Victoria won first prize in the short story section, along with $1000, for his story, Cricket Woes.

The story tells of two young boys who train diligently with the men’s cricket team every week, but always end up as the 12th men when other players are brought in instead.

“I played a bit of cricket in rural Australia and it’s an interesting environment,” Mr McPherson said.

“I recall vividly going to training and not getting a game and wondering, ‘who are these guys’?”

The two boys in the story end up playing a game for the opposition and narrowly winning.

Mr McPherson, 24, said he wanted to become a writer and entered the competition to test his skills.

THOMAS MCPHERSON'S STORY: CRICKET WOES

Meanwhile, a man’s extraordinary journey to have a toothache fixed won third prize for Orange resident Neville Smith for his story, The Accountant.

The story begins with unkempt accountant Frederick Charles Espinell suffering from a raging toothache.

Espinell visits the dentist, who refuses to treat him due to his long hair and unironed clothing. He accidentally breaks a coffee mug, faces court on malicious damages and pleads guilty to have his tooth fixed in jail.

Mr Smith, 88, said he was amazed the entry came third.

“I couldn’t imagine getting any prize of any sort, especially since I’ve never entered a competition before and out of the three stories I entered, I thought that one was the worst,” he said.

The former horticulture lecturer still grows berries on his Coronation Drive property and writing is another of his hobbies. He creates the story in his head from the first capital letter to the final full stop before typing it out.

“I do it just for the fun of it,” he said.

“I like the English language.”

This year’s competition attracted 70 short story entries, 85 bush poetry entries, 84 open poetry entries and 40 entries in the ABC Radio Children’s Writing Awards. 

Among the other winners from the central west were Dubbo’s Ron Stevens, who won second place in the open poetry section for A Message From An ANZAC’s Grave and Bathurst’s Pat Alexander, who came second in the bush poetry section for Carry Me, Carry Me Home.

Three of the four children’s section winners were from Orange, including 11-year-old Mitchell Kostitch, who came first for his poem A Refugee Lost in the Sea, 14-year-old Mary Munro for her short story The Locket, and 15-year-old Eleanor Delaney, who received the Yvonne Zola Encouragement Award for an Orange-based writer for her poem Letters Home.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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