Re-introduction of District Cricket

Re-introduction of District Cricket2018-07-20T01:06:00+00:00

In the 1947-48 season, for the second time in the Association's history, district cricket was introduced. The system had previously been adopted in 1903-4 but was abandoned at the end of 1910-11.

The Association was divided into seven districts - Branxton, Western Suburbs, Central, Northern District, Eastern Suburbs, Weston and Raymond Terrace. The boundaries of each district were clearly defined and players were obliged to play with the club in the district in which they resided.

For some clubs the change was fairly minor - involving only a name change, the loss, and gain of some players from its area but for others, such as Western Suburbs, the change meant starting a new club "from scratch". According to Eddie Hill, Western Suburbs Club was formed under a street light in South Street, Telarah, at a meeting with Bob Brown, Bob Conlon, and Perc Ryan. Western Suburbs was also handicapped as it had no home ground in its area. In the interim, it was granted use of the Park wicket of Marist Bros. Club, which temporarily went out of existence with the new system.

To supplement district cricket, a club section was arranged for those clubs that were not up to the standard of district cricket. The district clubs were given the authority to call up players from the club teams in their areas - a situation that was to cause friction at times.

To bolster the local competition, the Maitland entry in the Newcastle competition was withdrawn - bringing to an end the interlude of participation in the Newcastle competition.

In the initial season, the new system proved to be very successful. Forty-three teams entered the competition: with 19 in the district section of first, second and third grades, and 24 in the club section of B and C grades. In a D players were registered during the season with 382 in district and 506 in club teams.

Northern District achieved a record in that its first and second-grade teams completed the season, including the finals, undefeated. In the first grade, Central (which was basically made up of former players from the Robins Club) finished equal on points with Northern District and was declared joint premiers, but was defeated by 4 wickets in an exciting final.

For the first time, a club championship was introduced. This was narrowly won by Northern District by one point from Central, with the result hinging on their third grade winning a deferred match outright.

Mick Hinman of Central achieved his second double in the Maitland competition of 500 runs and 50 wickets in a season by scoring 549 runs and taking 51 wickets. He had performed this feat before the war in the 1938- 39 season.

Col Johnston of Northern District also had a good season scoring 508 runs at 56.51 average, including two centuries. He scored a further two centuries in representative matches to take his combined total for the season over 1000 runs.

In third grade P Griffin, a schoolboy slow left-arm bowler playing for Western Suburbs took 104 wickets.

Hunter River representatives in the Hunter Valley team at Country Week were Col Iohnstontcapt.), Alan Johnston, Charlie Bridge, Terry Farrell and Keith Smith. In one match Keith Smith took 5-14 and 3-9 on a perfect pitch. It is interesting to note that Smith's opening bowling partner at this Carnival was a left-hand bowler from Gosford - Alan K Davidson - who was to go on to a distinguished career in international cricket. Fortune was to be less kind to Keith.

Col Johnston was again selected to play for Combined Country against Metropolitan.

In the John Bull Shield competition, Hunter River finished second to Gosford, which won the John Bull Shield for the first time. Newcastle did not participate. as it was separated from the HVCC by the NSWCA to form a separate body.

Two matches were played by Hunter River Colts against Newcastle C & S Colts - the first of a number of such fixtures to be played over the next few seasons.

A pleasing aspect of the season was the crop of promising young players that began to emerge on the post-war cricket scene. Among these were Charlie Bridge (Branxton), Don Brooker, Ron and Ray Alien, Brian Hodge (East Maitland), Peter Hinrnan, Max Callaghan (Central), Keith Smith and Max Stockings (Northern District). Of these Charlie Bridge and Brian Hodge, both slow bowlers and batsmen. were selected for the Country Boys Coaching Class which had been introduced after the war.

In March 1948 Maitland City Council lifted the ban on organized sports on Council grounds on Sundays. thereby opening the way for some representative matches to be played on Sundays in future seasons.