DBH Consultant Max Basheer will celebrate his 91st birthday on 9th May 2018. The longest serving former SANFL President continues to work five days a week with the DBH Commercial Law team because “it’s good to keep the mind active”.
Max was born on the day that Canberra became the capital of Australia, 9th May 1927. His parents, Archie & Labeebee Basheer were of Lebanese descent, living in Kalangadoo South Australia.
“My mother was a magnificent woman. A smart business person. She saved for me to go to college.”
Labeebee, along with her husband and six children ran the Kalangadoo Hotel although Max admits his duties were kept to a minimum.
When Max was 16 years old he moved to Adelaide and attended boarding school where his good memory allowed him to coast through study while sport took centre stage.
“I was not a good student. I concentrated on sport. Football, cricket, tennis… I was named ‘best man on the ground’ playing football for the Intercollegiate side against St Peter’s College at Adelaide Oval. I was presented with the match football at morning assembly in front of the whole school… the biggest thrill of my life that one…”
In 1947 Max began a law degree at the University of Adelaide and worked part-time at Povey & Waterhouse.
“I was quite intrigued by law cases. Even at boarding school, I had a hankering that I wanted to do law. My parents wanted me to study medicine… Law was a very small profession in Adelaide in the 50s.”
Max played football for North Adelaide but retired when the club would not grant him permission to be cleared for the Sturt Football Club. His inability to play for Sturt prompted Max to end his career.
“In 1997, for my 70th birthday, I had a big party at home and invited all the people from the league clubs and North Adelaide came along. Their chairman presented me with a plaque… it was a clearance from North Adelaide to Sturt. Brought the house down.”
In 1954 Max began representing players that were reported in matches and was later appointed the South Australian Amateur Football League’s honorary solicitor.
Eight years later Max became the President of the SANFL, ultimately serving a record term of 25 years. During this time Max worked tirelessly to ensure that decisions about our local clubs were carefully considered.
“It was a very traumatic time in the league, I’d done a lot of work to establish Football Park with no help from the government. I had to fight very hard for every football match in South Australia to be played at Football Park so that the future of the sport in our state was assured… I always had the interests of the South Australian National Football League at heart… to secure its future so it could not be taken over by another state.”
In 1990 Max negotiated the first AFL license for an SA team, the Adelaide Crows and later, The Port Adelaide Power. He was committed to ensuring that the timing and conditions were right for South Australia to join the national league.
It is not surprising that Max was awarded a Member of The Order of Australia in 1988 for services to the game of Australian football although it is clear Max always put South Australia first.
Like Max, DBH remains proudly and firmly South Australian. An invaluable trait in a world, where the local has been flooded by the global.
Max enjoys his work as a Commercial Law Consultant because it allows him to continue to serve others. He is known for being clever and kind with a winning personality, a story up every sleeve.
He asked me to ensure that I did not write anything ‘flowery or overly complimentary’ to which I replied:
“That may be difficult Max”.
Portrait by Matt Loxton.