Roland and Justin

Roland and Justin on a surf trip in Medewi

Roland Davies was my best friend. A man with so many talents and the rare ability to execute those talents at will. Always jittery except at the crease, he was the best mate anyone could have wished for.

I first met Roland Davies playing U12’s cricket in Darwin. I was playing batting at the time playing for PINTS and Roland was the wicket keeper for Darwin Cricket Club. He didn’t keep quite.

“Go on, this bowlers rubbish, smash him out of the park”

…. and more and more of the same. He managed to convince a few of my team mates as they attempted just that either to be stumped of caught… very clever ploy Mr Davies. Over the next two years we played in the same representative team (Darwin) and we played in the NT Championships in Alice Springs and Gove. On the second trip to Gove we both made the NT Primary Schools side managed by Russ Marlborough along with a series of other team mates who would go on to become long time friends. The team was made up from

    • Roland Davies
    • Aaron Shattock (shatz)
    • Matthew Whealan (Wheels)
    • Phillip Sutherland
    • Jeff Oliver
    • Robert Goldsmith
    • Ross Stanger
    • Hugh
    • Michael Greenup

and a number of other players. Both Shatz and Wheels went on to become close friends with Rol’s Speaking with David King he talked about how scared Roland was to head out to open in the first games while playing rep cricket. Eventually he just said

“Bugger it”

and manned up to the challenge. Following on from that was yet another call up to the All Australian side.


He was one of the brightest men on the planet, and in the days of the pub quizes in Darwin he was quick to point out that fact time and time again. As bright accademically as he was there are litterally hundreds of incidents throughout his life that contradict this.


Jess was Rolands sister by two years. These days two, three, five, ten years — it doesn’t really matter, but back then two years was the difference between primary school and high school, starting high school and being the cool kids that everyone looked up to. With age comes great responsibility, and once Jess was old enough to drive she was tasked/burdened with having to pick us up from cricket training from time to time. One time on the way back from training he was busting to go to the toilet but thought that Jess would leave him on the side of the road if she pulled over to let him out.  To be fair, she probably would have because he was at the age where he would tease incessantly. So with Jess refusing to pull over and Roland refusing to get out he proceeded to wind down the window and try take a wizz out the window. Jess hit the brakes and roland ended up wearing much of the urine before we set off again. I remember sleep overs with Roland at 8 Cooper Street, a man that could never see past about 9pm even on the weekend as we were growing up. Although Jess was older enough in her teenage years to not care about her little brothers friends, Jess is one of those awesome people who didn’t care I was Rolly’s friend and we stayed up to the wee hours eating popcorn and watching the Late Show. This really bugged Rols from time to time  and Jess teased him that I really stay over to hang out with her instead.


At 15, and looking about 12, we were in Melbourne playing in the U/17’s Australian Championships. We played against the likes of Michael Klinger and Marcus North: but it was other events on tour that really stood out. On a trip to the zoo Roland became over excited and offended a school group as we walked past the monkeys cage exclaiming

“He’s wanking…. the monkey is wanking off”

Later that tour Roland would head off with a few of the older lads in the Squad to “The Shaft” which was the only strip club in Melbourne that would let them through the doors. He was devastated when Cherry, the lady dancer, took off his brand new hat he had got for Christmas to use as a prop for part of her show. He arrived back to the dorms not with stories of an amazing experience but how this horrible woman defaced his hat.


I remember Roland at St Johns being kept after class one day because of his classroom antics. Not realising what he had exactly done wrong he assumed it was because this particular teacher, Ms Marny, was actually attracted to him and wanted to spend some time alone with him. He actually said

“I know why you wanted me to stay behind. It’s because you want me don’t you.”

I thought he was stretching the truth a bit until I joined him in the office to officially apologise to the teacher in question with the headmaster there also. At this point Roland begun to develop a reputation of telling a story… and for those of you that knew him well would have heard the same story told a few times…. each time the fish getting a bit longer. Knowing this Roland and I struck up a deal: he would always tell me the actual truth and I promised to never call him out during the elaboration of a story.


When Roland moved to Queensland we still kept in touch and I tried to visit as often as I could, usually once or twice a year. It was during this time that he was finishing off University, for the first time with his Law degree, while also introducing me to the Paddo Hotel. At the time he lived on Given Terrece above a Flight Center about 100 meters from the Paddo with Chris Picton. Pico had hundreds of hours worth of stories where Roland had gone off the rails and done something stupid. Roland’s favourite story was the one and only story he had on Chris over a 5 year period of living with him. After an afternoon of playing beach volleyball in the sun and swapping out water in favour of $2 Smirnoff Vodkas we were refused entry back into Paddo 10 hours later. We all retreated back to the apartment when Pico began throwing the contents of the vegetable chrisper down the road at the rather large and angry samoan bouncer.


When I first arrived in London in September of 2007 it was Roland that took me into his home. The first thing we did was go out for a beer down the road in Colliers Wood.


I don’t recall the point at which Roland became my best friend. It was never an official thing we bestowed upon each other at school. Aside from the cricket we had different interests and eventually had slightly different circles of friends. I think sometimes that can be difficult because one friend won’t get along with everyone else you knew…. but it was Roland. Everyone loved him. Everyone. Within an instant of meeting Roland most people found a friend for life, and someone they warmed towards faster than you usually would. We never argued. We discussed. There were very few things that we disagreed upon.  I put that down to the fact that we were right about everything. Roland cared deeply about certain things and myself other things. We had our passions but aside from Cricket they often differed. When we talked about things one of us knew more about the topic, usually Roland, but we would allow each other to guide opinions in areas we didn’t understand. You might call that following blindly — but it was different. It was a trust that neither of us would lead the other in the wrong direction, everything was done and shared to the best of our abilities and when we didn’t know something we left it there.

He was like a counter balance. The best thing with that was it was easy. Months could go past with no contact and out of the blue Roland would call for a few minutes to see how things were going and share his plans for the future, or ask for some advice with something he was struggling to grapple (life decisions, never accedemic grapplings… he had far smarter friends for that). There was a particular night where we worked in a drinks van for an event on the Esplanade in Darwin. We used to do lots of that kind of stuff for Cricket and probably drank more diet coke and ate more pies/sausage rols and marsbars than it was worth having us there. On this particular occasion we’d packed up for the night and most of the crowds had gone home. We were laid on the grass looking up at the stars waiting for Jess to come and pick us up and started talking about the Universe. I was incredibly interested in space and stars and Roland had been brought up in a Catholic household, church on Sundays and the like. I explained everything I knew about the makeup of everything while Rols shared his knowledge of the Church. We didn’t argue or tread on each others views. We didn’t fly off on some ridiculous theory of everything. We just talked about facts and hypothesised possibilities. We were only 13 or 14 at the time but we both agreed that based on our knowledge at that point that God and an afterlife is unlikely, but not an impossibility, and that we needed to revisit that discussion over the years. Who comes up with that answer at 13? We often talked about that night over the next 20 years. We never really revisited the topic with new information, but it was just something that very clearly stood out in our memories. It was like the point at which we both realised, but also didn’t at the same time, that we’d found in each other someone we could have a proper talk to about anything without prejudice. We wouldn’t try influence each others ideas, but more help find the answer we were chasing.


At some point Roland and I knew we were going to be lifetime friends. I find it hard to believe that at just 35 years old I can look Roland and say that we’ve been friends for 25 years. That’s a long time to know someone, to share an lifetimes worth of experiences. I love my wife and know her very well yet I’ve only known her for 8 years. Roland I have known for 3 times longer. Although we knew that we’d be best friends forever… brothers from different Mothers and Fathers… neither of us ever knew that our life time of friendship would be cut short just a few days ago. 20th July 2010

I hope you are well. I set a new record last weekend and managed to lose a mobile phone on two consecutive nights. I am now on first name basis with the staff at the local vodafone shop. Can you please email me your phone numbers.