Branxton’s Revival

Branxton’s Revival2018-07-20T04:18:29+00:00

In 1951-52 Branxton re-entered the first grade competition and was successful in winning the premiership for the first time since 193.5-36. The team was captained by John Bendeich and included those Branxton players who had been with Western Suburbs the previous season - Charlie Bridge, Terry Farrell, Don and John Thrift. It was also strengthened by the addition of Robin Cotton, a right-hand spin bowler and capable batsman, who had played with Western Suburbs in Sydney.

In another blow to district cricket, Central Club which had been such a strong force caused a shock when it did not enter the first-grade team. At one stage it looked as if the club would disband, but it did end up entering a third-grade team. A contributing factor to this situation appears to have been Mick Hinman's move to Western Suburbs after taking up residence in the district following his marriage the previous season.

A number of Central players were given permits to play with other town clubs - P Hinman, B Denny and M Callaghan with Eastern Suburbs, and F Kent with Northern District. However, the Association made it clear that this was a "one-off' situation.

Finals were eliminated in all grades except first grade. The first grade final between Branxton and Northern District had a disappointing ending when Branxton was unable to field a team on the third day, even though it was in a winning position. This situation largely arose as a result of the final being delayed, after an unusual decision to have a play-off between Northern District and Eastern Suburbs that had finished equal second on the point score, rather than deciding the position on averages.

Two brothers, Col and Alan Johnston of Northern District, headed the district batting aggregate and averages, while Bert Denny of Eastern Suburbs was the only player to take over 50 wickets.

In the club section, there was a drop of 10 teams, mainly brought about by the re-forming of the Port Stephens Association. Lochinvar won the B grade and Methodist OK had its first success since its formation seven years previously by taking out the C grade premiership.

Two promising young players of the future who began to show out during the season were John Hayward who played for Eastern Suburbs and Joe French who played with Lochinvar in the club section.

Mick Hinman was the only player outside of Newcastle who was chosen to play for NSW Country against the West Indies in their opening tour match at Newcastle on October 26 and 27 1951. The West Indies team included the famous "three W's" - Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, and Everton Weekes. Hinman scored 37 and 40 in the match.

Hunter River's representatives at Country Week were Terry Farrell, Robin Cotton, Don Thrift, Ken Bromage and Col Johnston. Don Thrift was another case of a son following in the footsteps of his father, for Dick Thrift, Don's father, had represented Hunter River in Country Week teams in the 1920s. Arthur Lord again officiated as an umpire at Country Week.

Neil McDonald, a youngster with Eastern Suburbs, was selected for the Country Boys Coaching Class. In addition to the usual John Bull Shield and Coal Board Cup matches, representative matches were arranged against an Under 23 Newcastle Colts team and an Under 18 Newcastle C & S team, and a fixture was also played against a Cumberland team which included Richie Benaud.