Faces of Tamworth: Champion of sport Ian "Butch" Southwell

There would be few people who have made as big a contribution to the local sporting landscape as the late Ian Southwell. Awarded an OAM in 2002 for his for his services to sport, “Butch” or “Boss” as he was affectionately known was awarded life membership of seven different organisations including the Tamworth Hockey Association and Tamworth District Cricket Association. The TDCA’s home is named Ian “Butch” Southwell Cricket House in his honour and likewise the Tamworth Hockey Association instigated the Butch Southwell award for the player of the grand final. It is a measure of the regard Southwell was held in, and not just by the sporting community. As former Northern Daily Leader sports editor Geoff Newling reported after his funeral in 2013, Southwell was a generous man, caring husband, father and sportsman, city councillor and administrator. 

IAN Douglas Southwell, OAM, was affectionately known as Butch or Boss and will be remembered as a generous man, caring husband, father and sportsman, city councillor and administrator. 

He is also considered irreplaceable, according to former State junior and senior representative and junior hockey coach Richard Willis. 

The late Ian Southwell was one of Tamworth's great sportsman.

The late Ian Southwell was one of Tamworth's great sportsman.

“Tamworth will never be able to replace someone like Ian “Butch”, “Boss” Southwell but they will remember his achievements,” Willis said. 

“He was a role model and a mentor for me and others,” Willis told a large gathering in his eulogy at the Southside Uniting Church yesterday.

Yesterday’s congregation, overflowing onto the verandah, gathered to farewell and honour an amazing bloke.

Robert Southwell painted a vibrant history of his father, born and raised at Tooloona just outside Warialda in 1925, who moved around with his shearer father to Delungra, Mullaley, Gunnedah and then Tamworth.

He told of a young man who attended primary school at West Tamworth and Tamworth High School, who left school after completing his Intermediate (Year 10) Certificate and joined the RAAF, and of being stationed in Kingaroy, Temora and Sale.

Discharged in 1946, he moved back to Tamworth where he became a butcher, then a successful livestock buyer.

He married Marie in 1952 and he also found time to play sport and then coach, manage and umpire basketball, hockey and cricket.

Robert reported how his father was named Apex Citizen of the Year in 1997 and then received an OAM in 2002.

Both were humbling experiences, Robert Southwell said.

Then Willis was honoured to be able to share a euology of the man he simply knew as Boss.

“He was a life member of six different organisations,” Willis said.

“Hockey, cricket, TAMSAC (Tamworth Sports Advisory Council), North West Cricket, Tamworth Cricket Umpires and the Emus Club. NSW Hockey Association also made him a life member in 1984.”

Southwell served terms as secretary and president of the Tamworth and District Cricket Association as well as being a State Under 21 hockey selector for many years.

He also managed various Tamworth, North West (now Central North) cricket teams and Tamworth and State hockey teams. He was also a major helper for the sporting clubs on their boomgate rosters at Riverside during the Country Music Festival and was a Tamworth councillor from 1971 to 1989. 

“He was also one of the people who pushed for us to buy Cricket House,” then-Central North Zone cricket chairman Terry Psarakis recalled. 

Psarakis was the president of the TDCA at the time and believes it was the best investment the TDCA has ever made. 

“It gave us a home for cricket, not only for Tamworth as it turns out, but for Central North as well,” he said. 

“He also gave us $50,000 to help buy Cricket House.”

The late Ian Southwell with his wife Marie at a sporting function.

The late Ian Southwell with his wife Marie at a sporting function.

John Muller also saw another side of Southwell.

“He always attended our annual Billabong jazz concerts,” Muller told The Leader.

“He helped us raise funds for the Billabong Clubhouse which supports family members with a mental illness.

“Butch loved all the live performers and in 2009 showed his appreciation by being the successful bidder at auction for a guitar, paying $1100 and then donating it to the music students at Peel High School."

“Earlier this year when I was visiting him he said he wanted to make another donation to the clubhouse.”

“He (Butch) often mentioned how lucky we were to have a visit from the MCC in 1963 at No 1 Oval in Tamworth.”

“The local North West side captained by Bruce Weissel included a virtually unknown 18-year- old called Doug Walters who unfortunately made a duck and 18 but went on to be a legend in Australian Test cricket.” 

Muller said Southwell will also be fondly remembered for the consistent use of the word bloomin’ in his conservations.

“He would be a multi-millionaire many times over if he had received a dollar for everytime he used it,” he said.