Mildura Weekly : Friday March 7 2014 Vol 8 No 18
www.milduraweekly.com.au 10 Mildura Weekly – 07/03/14 WALLY Keeble loves country music so much that when he was working in the plumbing supplies industry, he used to take two weeks annual leave so he could spend every day and night at Mildura Country Music Festival events. Apart from family and friends, he lists country music as one of the two great loves of his life. The other one is football, South Mildura in particular, and no-one has made a greater impact on, or been more revered at a club, than Bulldog Wally. The 71-year-old (he’s 72 on Sunday), has made some life-long friends from sport and music, and a huge high- light came this week when he finally met two of his singing idols, husband-and- wife Queensland entertain- ers Grant and Carol Manson, who perform under the stage name ‘HeartBeat Duo.’ When they came face to face for the first time in Mil- dura on Monday, it was an emotional meeting, with some surprise twists. Most of the reasons stem from Wally’s background, starting at age eight when he crashed his bike, suffering a bad injury that resulted in him having his left eye removed. But that didn’t stop him playing top-level football and basketball, and taking up boxing. He also trained greyhounds for 20 years be- fore the health scares, but has maintained an interest as an owner. The brave Bulldog counts himself extremely lucky to be alive. It wasn’t so long ago that he was undergoing ma- jor stomach cancer surgery in the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Doctors told him later that he ‘died’ on the operating table - twice - but hung on...like a Bulldog, of course. In recovery, Wally tuned in to Mark Eckel’s Mildura-based country music radio show. Mark had selected the ‘Heart- Beat Duo’ track ‘Back on my feet again,’ a song Grant had written while recovering from major heart surgery. Wally started researching the duo and their songs.... bought the album he’d been listening to...and hasn’t stopped. Now he has all the ‘HeartBeat’ albums, and would be their number one fan. Judging by their first meeting on Monday, the feel- ing is mutual. Wally, Grant and Carol remembered how Wally first connected with them as a Facebook friend. That led to a few phone conversations, and developed into a firm, long- distance friendship that in turn led to Monday’s meeting. Grant and Carol had trav- elled from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, stopping along the way for singing gigs in Wagga, Albury, Orange and Dubbo. They are in Broken Hill tonight, and the Euston Club next Friday...their first visit to south-west NSW. They were so keen to meet Wally that they planned their 2014 itinerary accordingly, basing themselves at Buronga Cara- van Park for 10 days so they could spend some time with their Mildura mate. “After Wally’s initial friend request through Facebook, we started to learn a bit more about his amazing story,” Grant said. “We would discuss our mutual love of country music, family and AFL foot- ball, and over time, Carol and I have developed an enor- mous respect for Wally...he is just an incredible man. “We are motivated and inspired by his obvious zest for life, and feel extremely humbled by his support, and the interest he has taken in us and our music.” The friendship has de- veloped to such a stage that Grant and Carol are turn- ing on a special one-off per- formance at Mildura’s Bupa Nursing Home, where Wally’s wife Sue, 68, is now resident as she battles cerebral palsy. Wally says it’s his friend- ship with Grant and Carol, Charlie and his many sport- ing mates, plus his love of all things country music...”the best therapy you can get”... that has been a major part of his cancer fightback, and it’s a fight he is determined to win. Because of the HeartBeat Duo’s friendship and sup- port, and the fact they went well out of their way to spend time with him in Mildura, Wally decided that a few sur- prises were in order. He got a good mate, John Prowse, to paint a picture of the three of them ‘together,’ based on sup- plied photographs. Wally also organised a ‘Heartbeat’ polo shirt, eye patch, headband, HeartBeat ‘wall’ and door hanger in his home. He also asked his niece Sally Foley, who he describes as “a crocheting whiz,” to come up with a special me- mento as a ‘welcome to Mil- dura’ present. The result had everyone flabbergasted. Sally, who grew up in Mildura and Ouyen and who now calls Alice Springs home, spent what Wally esti- mated would be at least 100 hours stitching together the most amazing double bed quilt...in the duo’s colours of red, white and black, com- plete with their names, a gi- ant heart, and mini guitars around the edges...a personal and unique work or art. Wally says that apart from family, relatives and a few footy friends, his Facebook friends are all country music people. They include special England-based ‘super-friend’ the great Charlie Landsbor- ough, 72, who Wally has been corresponding with for the past 10 years after the pair met at a Bendigo concert. Charlie regularly tours Australia, and Wally has been to every one of these concerts. They have been in touch by phone several times a year since they met, and when Charlie found out about Wal- ly’s battle with cancer about 15 months ago, he rang from the UK to offer his support and best wishes, and sent a ‘get well’ gift. The friendship with his singing mates is so strong that Wally has dedicat- ed the walls of his 10th Street home to ‘Charlie and ‘Heart- Beat Duo’ memorabilia’... photos, letters and messages of support - and Prowsie’s canvas pictures. • Continued Page 13 Losing an eye at an early age didn’t stop Wally Keeble having a long and colourful career as a South Mildura footballer. He had a few more serious health scares later in life too, and lost his wife of 41 years...but a love of family and friends...and country music has seen him bounce back. The Mildura Weekly’s ALAN ERSKINE reports on... Bulldog Wally and the HeartBeat Duo Bulldog Wally and the • HEART TO BEAT: Mildura’s Wally Keeble finally got to meet two of his heroes this week, husband and wife singing team the HeartBeat Duo (left), from the Sunshine Coast. One of the surprise gifts he had for Grant and Carol Manson was this personalised crocheted rug, courtesy of a niece in the Red Centre. Wally says it’s his friendship with Grant and Carol, Charlie and his many sporting mates, plus his love of all things country music... ”the best therapy you can get”...that has been a major part of his cancer fightback, and it’s a fight he is determined to win.
February 28 2014 Vol 8 No 17
Friday March 14 2014 VOL 8 No 19