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Ernest C Kelaart: The Smiling Executioner

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An ideal story to be heralded by my version of Defying Gravity that I recorded with Waylon Jennings, many moons ago. Also, I am very proud to say that THIS smiling Executioner Ernie Kelaart served in the Royal Ceylon Navy with me, and everything they say about him is so true.

There was nothing it seems, in sports, that Ernie wasn’t a Champion at. He was also a Champion guy,, loved and respected by everyone who knew him.

Born in 1922 and passed on in 2008, Ernest Kelaart, we/salute you. Rest in peace, my friend, and God bless you.

As much as it is a safe bet that a large percentage of our fellow Australians are familiar with the surname Kelly its much shorter odds that the entire population of expatriate Sri Lankan Australians in Melbourne are even more aware and cognisant of `Mr. Music’ – Desmond Anthony Carl Kelly – to name him in full. I am privileged to claim greater familiarity and call him `Dessa’ since becoming a fond and firm cyber-friend with him from the beginning of the current century. Indeed I can claim to even closer almost familial relationship with Dessa as I also began another cyber relationship - in the previous century - with his younger more rumbustious, heavier and younger brother Ian . The latter calls himself `Mala Kelly’ and for other s who have known him well before he self-exiled back to Mother Lanka a decade ago - that’s a spot-on description for a true extrovert. He doesn’t have the vocal timbre of Des but when it comes to singing bawdy Sinhala Baila `young’ Ian is uncontestable. Trust me...I do know what `naughty as’ is. To get more `formal’ and `serious’ (neither of which are preferred aspects of my personality) I wish to focus on the great musical nous and talents of Desmond Anthony. He’s styled as the Editor-on-Chief of the excellent E-Lanka Newsite that keeps growing in readership on the back of its twice-weekly appearance. Recently even myself – of whom my many critics reckon has Van Gogh’s ear for music – has been drawn into listening to the many videos of the Country Music that have been posted by Des on E-Lanka Des cherishes the Country stuff and says its music plays out the Story of Life and Love and will last for eternity – evidence for which he cites the stats that in the USA there are 248 radio stations that play ONLY Country! . Long before he was once Melbourne’s top Sri Lankan singer-entertainer – songwriter – presenter Dessa was a young Housewife’s Favourite in then Ceylon with his perennial hit Dream World and a slew of several other record sellers. Des strummed his strings and sang his rich baritone as a virtual teen-age member on the pay-list of all the Big Bands that were in action at all Colombo’s top venues. .However I shall not dwell longer or wax more bull on Des the Performer - he has done his bit – lit up the stages and now in busy retirement still makes time to `educate’ musical novices like me take a livelier interest in his abiding passion – Good Old Country Music of the Des Kelly Genre. To illustrate this I have to appeal to the readers of this literary`garbage’ by me to open up the video-posts `Kelly Klassics. & Singalongs’ links that appeared in the recent editions of ELanka and lend your ear (NOT the VanGogh one) to Des’s choices of `Jealous Kind’ sung by Rita Coolidge ...`Ravishing Ruby’ by Tom Hall and a classic `I’ve Got You’by singers Waylon Jennings & Anita Carter. Until he enlightened me I did not realise that the HARMONY being sung to these recordings was taped and sung by Dessa himself......Good long suffering readers – we’ve to hand it to Gentleman Des – the Lovely Bloke’s a GENIUS...and long may he continue to be with us..

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) e’Lanka.

The writer has touched on the period 1953 to 1986, when Ernest C Kelaart was a National and International player from 1955 to 1964 and premier Division player for the Burgher Recreation Club (BRC) from 1954 to 1978 and Heath & Company up to 1986, thus having played with and against these great players. He also goes back to 1947 to remember with gratitude, those legends who paved the way for us to follow.

Oozing with talent, Ernie Kelaart excelled in the Centre Half position but could have performed with equal versatility in any other position, barring of course, Goal Keeper.

His dazzling stick work and uncanny anticipation was the hallmark of his game.

I would call him a smiling executioner when finishing a move.

He was a star performer both at cricket and hockey in the 1940s up to 1958, when he had to play for the Ceylon Navy. He captained both the cricket and hockey teams.

As a leading all-rounder at the Burgher Recreation Club, he played for Ceylon in 1949 versus Pakistan and West Indies.

In 1952, he was one of the four selected to represent a Combined Team of Ceylon/India/ Pakistan/Australia versus Donald Carr’s MCC team. The others being FC de Saram (captain), CI Gunasekera and Ben Navaratne.

Incidentally, MCC lost by an innings and 259 runs. He also played in the unofficial Test. He was a middle order batsman and an off-break bowler of considerable skill.

In 1953, he toured Madras with the Ceylon team which beat Madras HA for the Gopalan Trophy.

Ernie emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1963 with his wife Barbara and family.

Ernest (Ernie) C. Kelaart (born 1922) (Centre Half) (Burgher Recreation Club and Combined Services)

1947 vs Afghanistan
1947 vs India
1948 vs Indian Olympic team


1953 Ceylon H.A. tour of Madras and Bangalore (vice captain)
1955 vs Madras HA
1956 vs Mysore HA

Next: Hugh Aldons

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