Michael O'Brien Interview
The Twickenham "Bobby's Hat" Streaker Finally Speaks
Australian TV show "Where Are They Now?" on Channel 7 featured a segment on streakers on 12th March 2006.
It's taken 32 years, but someone finally managed to get Michael O'Brien to speak about his famous streak at Twickenham in 1974 - the one that resulted in THAT photo with the police helmet covering his unmentionables.
I was stunned to see that he'd made himself available. When I first started researching streaking in 1997 Michael was untouchable. Countless media researchers and journalists have asked me if I knew where he was and I said no. He never wanted to have anything to do with streaking.
Channel Seven either caught him at a good time, or paid out a lot of money. I hope it was the latter.
Anyway, here's a transcript of the first ever interview with Michael O'Brien.
Intro – The streak, shots of Mark Roberts, ARL streaker, Greg Chappell streaker
Mel Doyle and David Koch as interviewers.
Mel: Streaking has filled up the dull patches of major sporting events for years now but how did it all begin? Well, it was a rugby match between France and England in 1974. This was the first public streak at a big event ever. And guess what? The streaker was an Aussie named Michael O’Brien. Today he’s a very respectable and fully clothed Melbourne Businessman.
David: He’s been trying to live it down for years but we’ve managed to flush him out, so to speak. Here to talk about that day for the first time ever on television, would you please welcome Michael O’Brien.
Mel: Thank you for joining us. So… what were you thinking?
Michael: Obviously not much.
David: So there you are, out in the middle of the field, it’s a test match, rugby, not a stitch on…
David: How did you feel going through it all?
Michael: I was blank to it, to be quiet honest. From the minute I sent my clothes to the other side of the ground and I was sitting there stark naked on the opposite side of the ground, everything just went blank. All I was waiting for was the half time whistle so the players would leave the field. And I decided I wanted to run across the half way line. Fortunately where my seat was was near the quarter line. So I had to get over the fence, go along the side of the paddock to the half way line and take off which gave the cops all the time in the world to get ready and wait for me.
Mel: You were a young accountant – a fairly conservative kind of profession if I can say…
David: Come on! No!
Mel:… and your mates put you up to it for a bet.
Michael: It was an Englishman who put me up to it. My Australian mates said to him straight off “Don’t bet with O’Brien because he’ll do it.” He insisted so I said “Well, it’s going to happen.”
Mel: And did you win the cash?
Michael: I won the cash and I was fined the equivalent amount of cash from the Magistrate the following Monday, so all squared.
David: How far did you get before you were nabbed?
Michael: I got the full width of the field and I’d just got over the side of the touchline when the wallopers arrived. And what I was saying to them… that’s why my hands were out like that, I was saying: “My friends over there bet me I couldn’t reach that fence.” And they actually walked me over and let me touch it.
Mel: Oh, that’s nice of them, yeah. You started a worldwide trend.
Michael: That’s my only regret.
Mel: Really? Why?
Michael: I do feel very very guilty about that. The stupidity that went on for years and years later – and you just showed some of it – going onto live games, running onto racing tracks, it’s just sheer stupidity. If Ian Bradshaw hadn’t got that photograph it probably would never have happened. There were no TV cameras at the games in those days, so I would have had a clear run, nobody but the 48,000 people in the park would have ever known about it… but Ian had a new camera and he just picked it up and went click click click, got the photo and the rest is history.
David: Let’s see that photo again. The bobby is arresting you there with a strategically placed hat… were you glad that he put it there?
Michael: In hindsight, absolutely.
David: Well, the bobby that arrested you that day 32 years ago was a guy called Bruce Perry. He’s been retired for 15 years but he remembers that day very well.
Bruce Perry (voiceover): It was an extremely cold day and Michael had nothing to be proud of.
Michael: (laughing) Thanks Bruce
Mel: As if you weren’t embarrassed enough, guess what, we’ve brought him all the way over from the UK with the helmet that he used to save your dignity. Please welcome Bruce Perry.
Bruce walks in, with helmet, to the tune of “Rule Britannia”
Bruce: You’re not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so… but anything you do say I’m going to take down in writing. Michael, this is my helmet, the original one, and you’ll see my numbers are in here, 426T, there’s my number there…
David: You’re giving it to him?
Michael: Thank you very much.
David: Ah fantastic
Michael: It’s been fairly well travelled over the years, hasn’t it? I think I’ll put it there (puts it on the seat next to him)
Mel: Bruce, did you ever imagine that your role in that day would be as famous as it is now?
Bruce: Well, it’s down to Michael, really. We hadn’t had Fosters in the UK before then and you were all drinking Fosters and as a result of that you had a bet and you ran all the way round the pitch…
David: But you and your collegues really did take it all in good fun, you go the joke of it.
Bruce: Oh, very much so. I mean, we got you back into the ground, that wouldn’t have happened today.
Michael: I didn’t miss any of the game.
Mel: Yes I heard you came back for the second half of the match, that’s pretty good.
Michael: They got me out, got me dressed, got me to the local police station and all the forms filled in, and back in my seat – the same seat – by the time the players had taken the ground for the second half.
David: Well, perfect timing as good English gentlemen would allow you to do. Let’s take a look at that photo again, and Bruce, what were you saying at the time.
Bruce: Well I’d given him the caution, and I am convinced, if you look there, he’s got the beard in those days – I’ve got the beard now – and I’m convinced that he said “Give me a kiss.”
Michael: You’ve been dining out on that for years. You and I both know it’s not true.
David: And Michael do you have any advice for anyone thinking of doing the same thing?
Michael: Absolutely. Don’t.