The 1940-41 season was not a very successful one. Military enlistments, the draft call-up for compulsory training for home defense, and the difficulty of obtaining leave from local army training camps made it hard for clubs to field teams on
a regular basis.
Nevertheless, the competitions continued. There were 19 team entries with 7 in A grade, 7 in B and 5 in C. A new entry in A grade was Gresford, which included a number of Paterson players.
The A grade premiership was again won by Weston by a large margin, with six outright wins and only one defeat. Marist Brothers were runners-up for the third year in succession, thereby winning the Caines Cup outright.
Weston's success was mainly due to the bowling of Dave Roach with 65 wickets and Clem Hill with 49. Best of their batsmen was Bert Squires with 386 runs.
The only district batsman to score over 500 runs in A grade was Vie Cockerill of Branxton who made 625 runs at an average of 41.66. He figured in a remarkable match at Branxton against Northern Division in 1940.
On the first day, Northern Division scored 7 for 435 with Col Johnston making 196. With that score, the Northern Division had every reason to feel confident about the outcome. However, on the second day with a hot north-westerly blowing, Branxton made 449, scoring the winning runs with the last batsman at the wicket. Vie Cockerill scored 261, including nine sixes and twenty-nine fours. Cockerill's 261 remains the highest individual score in the first-grade competition, and the match remains a district record for the only case of both teams scoring over 400 runs in a first-grade match!
The only representative matches played during the
season was against Singleton on Boxing Day and the
The state of the playing fields came in for special mention during the season. The Secretary reported that they were generally in a deplorable condition, with the weeds and grass in some places being two feet high. These conditions made it very hard for batsmen with some hefty drives pulling up within a few yards of the wicket.
With the Association's credit balance down to ten pounds, a motion was put to the Annual Meeting by the Treasurer, Col Johnston, that players' registration fees be increased from 2/- to 2/6. After a stormy debate, the motion was defeated.
Branxton won by 14 runs on the first innings.
The Mercury's report of the second day's play began as follows:
Wonderful Effort by Branxton
V. COCKERlLL'S RECORD
The greatest surprise in Hunter cricket for many years was the defeat of Northern Division by Branxton at Branxton. The home side faced the huge score of 435 and passed it by 14 runs.
Of the total of 449, V. Cockerill made 261, the highest score by a batsman in the Hunter River Association first grade competition since the last war. The previous best was 242 by A. Sessions for East Maitland against Marist Brothers on the
latter club's ground in 1928.
Cockerill is one of the best hitters at present playing in the competition, but he had rather a lean time last season. His form on Saturday suggests that he is going to worry bowlers this year."