Races in the early days were often held without safety fences. This picture was taken near Kaimkillenbun.
Races in the early days were often held without safety fences. This picture was taken near Kaimkillenbun. Contributed

Sports fan critically injured at races

AN OLD man lay dying in the Dalby Hospital on November 1924. He had lived more than 50 years in the town and had seen the changes from the early days. Thomas Cussen was born on the other side of the world in Balleykett, Kilrush, Ireland.

His father was a successful farmer and young Thomas had private tuition until he was 19-years-old. He probably would have stayed there but his father died when he was 21 and when he received his share of the estate he decided to use it and go to Australia. His brother who lived in Victoria had sent back glowing reports of the place.

He landed at Moreton Bay on February 1, 1863, and worked for a time with a carpenter. Soon he secured a government job which he stuck to for 10 months. However, a severe drought caused the government to cut down on such works.

Searching for work he took up droving and found himself at Talavera near St George. He stayed there for three years and it seems it was there he met a young Irish girl who had been living in Toowoomba. Johanna Furlong had emigrated sometime after him. The young couple fell in love and were married in Toowoomba.

In 1870 they moved to Dalby and Thomas worked on Myall Point, a property owned by Hugh Nelson. He worked for a while in town but seemed to prefer working on the stations so he moved to Jimbour as a general hand and became involved in wool pressing and contracting on Wyobie and Blaxland Stations. He and Johanna had been married for 36 years in 1902 when she passed away.

It was only a year later that Thomas Cussen met with a severe accident which almost took his life. It was the New Year's Day meeting of the Northern Downs Jockey Club and Thomas was employed as bell ringer. He had backed a horse named Thelma owned by J. Nicholson of Blaxland and the race had started. In the excitement he encroached onto the race track with the crowd.

Thelma ran wide and collided with him, knocking him down and rolled him along the ground. He received serious injuries from the horse's feet and when picked up the unfortunate man was in a bad way. His scalp was opened and laid back to his shoulder.

A man named Connelly placed the scalp back into position. Then Dr Andrew Stewart ordered his removal to hospital where a silver plate was affixed to his skull.

It was a slow recovery as he lay five months in hospital before he could go home. He had been an active man in his younger days and never missed a football match or race meeting.

Thomas Cussen died at the age of 84 and suffered some severe illnesses in his later life. He was deeply interested in politics and right to the end insisted on having the political news of the world read to him daily.



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