Making of a Century

Fifteen Foundation Clubs

Fifteen clubs affiliated at the formation of the Newcastle (or Northern) District Cricket Assciation in 1889.

At a meeting at the Centennial Hotel on August 30 Mr. J. Freeman moved “that an association consisting of the cricket clubs playing in Newcastle be formed.” Mr Tom Raysmith offered to donate a 20-guinea cup for competition.

At a further meeting on September 12 foundation officials were elected. They were: Patron: C. H. Hanell; President: Alexander Ross; Vice Presidents: Stewart Keightley, T. H. Raysmith, J. O. Thomas; Secretary: J. D. Beeston; Treasurer: Robert Bond; Committee: G. Bewick, jun., W. Campbell, J. Sharp, J. Willis and T. H. Raysmith.

Affiliated clubs were Newcastle, Ironclads, Wickham Albions, Wallsend, East Newcastle, Lambton, Hamilton, Burwood, Tighes Hill, Plattsburg Albions, New Lambton Rosebuds, Stockton, Ireland’s Warehouse, Carriington, Half-Holiday.

In the first competition Tighes Hill won Raysmith Cup by beating Plattsburg Albions in the final at Summer Hill Football Ground. Until 1916-17 there was no defined premiership.

The association played two representative matches in its first season against sides from the Central Cumberland Cricket Association. The Northerners won the first match at Newcastle Cricket Ground on December 7 by 73 runs and lost the return game at Parramatta on March 8 by 54. Association officials were delighted that all players selected made the trip to Parramatta even though they paid their own expenses.


Four Additional Entries

Four additional clubs affiliated for the 1890-91 season, representing Britannia, Broadmeadow, Advance and Carlton.

Stewart Keightley became president with Alex Ross and W. T. Dent replacing Keightley and J. O. Thomass as vice-presidents.

Just as Ross was manager of Wallsend Coal Co., Keightley held a similar post with Newcastle Coalmining Co.

Inter-association matches with the Hunter River Cricket Association replaced the time-honoured contests between Newcastle and Maitland. In the two matches played the batting of Newcastle captain W. J. Wooden stood out. In the first game he scored 49 out of 70 and in return match made 107 not out in a total of 206.

Lambton and Tighes Hill were the top two clubs in the Raysmith Cup, Lambton winning the final by 15 runs. Mention was made of the clever handicapping by Mr. C. H. Hannell. Lambton fielded 11 players and Tighes Hill 13.

A team representing the Newcastle and Hunter River Associations made a northern tour at Easter and played matches in Brisbane and Toowoomba.


Dr Grace’s Half-Century

The most famous name in early English cricket, Dr. W. G. Grace, played in Newcastle in the 1891-92 season.

Grace was the captain of Lord Sheffield’s team, which played a Newcastle 20 on February 5 and 6, 1892. Rain forced and abandonment at midday on the second day after the “Great Man” had made 54 in his team’s 269 and Newcastle scored 6-42 in reply.

As a preliminary to the Newcastle selection a trial match was played between the association’s First Eleven and the Next Fifteen. The Eleven scored 4-260 and the Fifteen, in reply, made 254.

During the season Mr T. H. Raysmith donated a cup and 11 silver medals for competition among the public schools of the district.

For the Raysmith Cup competition Islington took the place of the Carlton club. There was no final in this or the following season.

A party of 20 left in the steamship “ Newcastle” for an Easter visit to the South Coast, where the Newcastle team won easily against Berry before losing by 18 runs to Kiama.


Representative Play Talks

Before the start of the 1892-93 season negotiations took place between the NDCA and the NSWCA and NSW Cricket Union on possible representative matches.

NDCA secretary J. D. Beeston said: “Your committee trusts that before the season is over your representatives will have the satisfaction of measuring blades with the best players of the colony.”

A team selected by Mr F. Smyth, under the auspices of the NSW Cricket Union, visited Newcastle in October, 1892, for a one-day match.

Openers Hannighan and Lenthall gave the Sydneysiders a fine start of 89. Lenthall was out for 47 but his partner carried on to reach 90, thus providing the foundation of the NSW team’s 253. It was noted that only two byes were recorded “earning credit for the wicketkeeper and bowlers, for the sundries compiled on the ground as a rule total double figures.”

“Ned” Webb was the most successful Newcastle bowler, taking 5-119 from 126 balls. A report said “although the number of runs scored from his bowling seems exorbitant as compared with the number of balls bowled it must be admitted that had the local representatives fielded with even usual precision his average would have shown better.”

Newcastle replied with 6-221, Cowen scoring 77 and Cunningham 43 before both were run out and Simon remaining 41 not out.

Stockton club submitted a motion, subsequently withdrawn, that “owing to the improvement in the batting of the junior clubs in the district it felt that all matches for the season should be arranged for two afternoons in lieu of one.”


Search for Country Talent

Four Northern Districts players were chosen in a Country team to meet Metropolitan after a week of “inter-provincial” cricket arranged by the NSWCA in the 1893-94 season.

The week was designed to “find whether the country districts contained any players worthy of selection for inter-colonial matches.”

The Northerners selected were T. Johnson and J.Maddison, of Newcastle, and W. and L. Moore of Maitland. Sydney made 380 to Country’s 184 but W. Moore, a wicketkeeper, was chosen in subsequent NSW teams.

Moore and Johnson had made a brave effort to turn Northern’s match with South Coast in the provincial series. Chasing a target of 342, Northern slumped to 6-61 before Moore and Johnson added 168 and the side reached 318.

A few weeks later a Metropolitan team, short of State players, met its match against Northern Districts at the Newcastle Cricket Ground. With scores of 137 and 3-173 the North got home by seven wickets, with Metropolitan making 141 and 168. Highlights were the outstanding bowling of R. Wilson (8-85 and 4-67) and the all-round second innings effort of L. Moore (6-33 and 79 not out.)

Newcastle put up some powerful displays in a win and draw in representative matches against Maitland. In the first game E. Cresswick was not out 152 and P. Enright made 86 in a total of 5-370. Cresswick then took 5-16 in Maitland’s 125. In the return match at Maitland the Newcastle team scored 354, of which W. J. Wooden made 94, T. Johnson 87 and R. Wilson 54. Wilson then took 4-18 in Maitland’s 6-140.

Several new clubs, bringing the total to 21, were affiliated with the NDCA for the season. Among the newcomers were Newcastle Herald, Permanent Artillery and District School Teachers. The Raysmith Cup went to Newcastle.


Late Start, Premature End

By the 1894-95 season the NDCA had 27 clubs, although New Lambton Rosebuds, Oriental and Artillery had dropped out. Britannia changed its name to East Lambton.

Some of the other teams of the time were Locomotive, Smedmore, North Waratah Reserve, Ivanhoe, Tramway, Water and Sewerage Board, Minmi, Belvedere and Charlestown.

As a result of an offer made at the 1893 annual meeting 12 bats and a ball were awarded for competition by Mr. R. “Dicky” Bryant. As winners of the first-grade final Wickham Albions received 11 of the bats and W. Camphin and S. Wearne won bat and ball, respectively, for their averages.

The final, which had not started until May 11, ended with Stockton unwilling to continue. Wickham Albion scored 198 (Ab Edgar 101). Stockton replied with 128 and appeared to have saved the follow-on (80 runs in three-day matches). Its players went out to field before officials ruled that games played only in the afternoon (no matter how many afternoons) constituted one-day fixtures and hence the follow-on figure was 60.

Stockton’s captain sent in some of his low-order men in protest and the score was 3-7 at the close of play and, as it proved, the match.

Maitland and Newcastle had a win each in inter-district matches but a dispute blew up between the NDCA and the Hunter River District Association over Newcastle’s efforts to mediate in a row between the HRDA and one of its constitute clubs.

The consequence was that the HRDA declined to make any direct nominations for the Northern 18 to play A. E. Stoddart’s English visiting side.

However, Newcastle authorities included several Maitland players in the team, which scored 189 and 5-87 against England’s 241.

Rain ruined a benefit match for the Newcastle Cricket Ground curator Bill Tracey after the players from District and City battled on until the luncheon adjournment.