Written and generously provided by Thomas Keneally
The last time I saw Anthony Young, the Mouse, was for some three seconds on the screen in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Tuxedo-clad, a tiny and supposedly tipsy New York power-broker, the Mouse was entering Gatsby’s supposed mansion for the Great Gatsby’s party-to-kill –all-parties. The diminutive Mouse often got small parts in other movies, including Moulin Rouge. He even played a trade union delegate in The Night We Called It a Day, which was against his grain, since he believed his union had failed to protect his public service job some years past. He also had a number of gigs as an air guitarist—all as outcome from competing in air guitar championships. We used to joke that it was a pity his famous sister, Simone Young, orchestral conductor, was hopeless at the air guitar and had to fall back on the lesser jobs of being musical director of the Australia Opera and the Hamburg State Opera.
It was obvious to us all that his chief role in life was to support the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. He was most alive when he was engaged in that – not only in games, but in volunteer work, sitting on the members’ committee called into being some years back, signing and processing members, and subjecting every injury, switch of position, alteration to the bench and all nuances of refereeing inconsistency to raucous analysis. The fact that he was below five feet at the age of fifty, due to a disability which afflicted him for life and would have defeated many of us had we been in his situation, didn’t stop him making a penetrating noise. He lived to exchange a few words with players, and he got plenty of kind ones from them, exchanges that lit up his life. On game days he zipped around the ground like a super-charged ion, talking to official and friends, garnering info and, if he could, an invite to the lounge. There he would begin his pronouncements on the progress of the game with, “Put it this way…” He always had his own way of putting it.
In a sense this vivid little man shouldn’t have been there. Because, on top of the other limiting factors of his life, he was born with a hole in his heart. He was not expected to live until five. From pure determination and courage and bloody-mindedness, he made it into his 50s. He triumphed, and made the term ‘handicapped’ irrelevant to who he was.
I think he was the greatest fan I’ve met – and I’ve met plenty. To go to Brookvale or other grounds on a cold night would often spark an infection in his lungs, yet he rarely chose to be absent. He would travel to Far North Queensland, he attended our World Club Challenges in the UK, and the weekend before he died, playing along the limits of doctor’s orders, he went to cold Mount Smart Stadium to watch the Sea Eagles go down to the Warriors by two points. His breathing was affected. On the following Friday, he was found, dead of a heart attack, in his flat at Harbord.
He received an open hand from many officials and committee members, former plays and members, but in particular from Kerry and Julie Sibraa, Bob and Debbie Reilly, John and Mary Finkelson, and Johnny and Deb Wilkinson, former sponsors and soon to be so again.
The stands and terraces at Manly are not the same without the Mouse. Few clubs had such a fiery particle, such a striking presence, on the move and enlivening us -- sometimes to a fault. Harry and Simone, his parents, were consoled by a small commemorative moment to Mouse before the last game of the season. To them and to their distinguished daughter, Simone, we send the membership’s most genuine condolences. And Mouse, Brookie’s plainer and less vibrant since you went.