On Sir Don Bradman's 107th birth anniversary, mid-day recalls a recent trip to Holden Street in Adelaide
The eerie silence at No 2 Holden Street in Adelaide's suburb of Kensington was in stark contrast to the applause its erstwhile resident Sir Donald Bradman received in his heyday. The street was deserted and there was no name plate either outside cricket's most famous address when mid-day visited the street recently. Bradman had been a resident here from 1934 till he breathed his last on February 25, 2001 at the ripe old age of 92.
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Don Bradman's neighbour Noel Allen outside his own home (No 1, Holden Street) which is opposite Bradman’s house. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
The home saw a lot of action when Bradman was around with some legendary Australian cricketers including members of the Don's Invincibles of 1948 like Keith Miller and Lindsay Hassett among others visiting him whenever there was a match at the Adelaide Oval. But in the last decade before his death, the place had become unusually quiet.
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Bradman's neighbour, Noel Allen (66) has been witness to this silence for quite some time. "Bradman's home was always quiet. One hardly saw any action or noise emanating from there. One hardly even saw Bradman in the window or by the garden for a number of years before he passed away," Allen told mid-day while standing outside his house (No 1 Holden Street) which is bang opposite the Bradman home.
Such was the Bradman's level of privacy that the neighbours never bothered to go over because they had learnt that he wanted to keep things that way. "We got to know that he preferred it like that. No visitors. He wanted things to be quiet even though most of us would have been ever willing to go over and meet the legend," said Allen.
Sir Don Bradman's home at No 2, Holden Street, Kensington in Adelaide. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
"He was a very busy man in his heyday and very, very revered. I'm saying this because I've seen that reverence first hand. My father used to be the caterer at the Adelaide Oval, so I would go there with him as a kid. Once, as a 10-year-old, I met the Don at the ground. And this was after his retirement, somewhere in the late 1950s or early 60s. I saw him there and told my father that "I wanted to meet him. My father took me to him and told him 'that's my boy.'
And Don simply looked at me, bent over, said 'hello son' and put his hand on my hand. I don't remember if he said anything more now, but the sheer radiance he emitted in that brief moment was enough to last me a lifetime," explained Allen, who hopes his son, who also plays cricket, can do at least half of what their most famous neighbour achieved.
"My son Lucas (18) plays cricket for Kensington District Club side Kensington Browns. It's the same club where Bradman played. I hope and pray Lucas goes on to represent Australia some day," said Allen. Coming back to discussing the quiet, sprawling Bradman home, Allen informed that the family continues to own the place. "His son John lives on this same street, down the road.
"His granddaughter Greta comes here some times." When reminded of the Don's 14th death anniversary, Allen said he did not expect any special commemoration at the home. "It has always been quiet even on previous death anniversaries, so I don't think that will change this time. But that's fine. Bradman died a peaceful and quiet death, but his records will live with us forever," said Allen.
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