Monday, July 28, 2014

The day my grandfather played cricket against Clive Churchill

I was searching through Trove the other day looking for instances of where my father and grandfather played cricket with each other. I found a number of instances which made interesting reading (to me). However, I also came across the following match report that describes a fundraiser my grandfather took part in back in the 1950s. This will only make sense to people familiar with (a) cricket in Australia during that era, (2) the sport of rugby league. My American friends can probably return to the program already in progress...

The Biz - Thursday 1st March 1951 (courtesy of National Library of Australia)

For those who find the type a little hard to read:

Aggressive batting and accurate bowling made very interesting a match in Fairfield Park last Sunday between a combined team of S.D. Cricket Association, and an eleven of international and first grade footballers, and a few first grade cricketers.
Although the public did not attend in very great numbers to help a worthy cause, a tidy sum will benefit the Fairfield Memorial and Honour Avenue.
The turf wicket was in excellent playing condition when the S.D. team went in to bat. Star of the team was Billy Wilkinson, of Fairfield Sports Club, who top-scored with 35, and later also kept wickets very safely; Roger Stimson and G. Diessell compiled a useful 15 each; S.D. total being 94.
The visitors replied with 98, with an exciting finish. They were led by former international cricketer, Tom Andrews, who bowled the first ball. L. (Bockeye) Bell, Newcastle Rugby League full-back, starred for the "Stars," taking five wickets for 11 runs, and top-scored with 37 runs. Promising young N.S.W. representative colt, Ray Flockton, went for two runs; and he subsequently denied a statement that he was going to accept an offer to play for an English club. Ray displayed outstanding fielding ability. Local "champions" Reg ("Bradman") Williams and Charlie ("Gregory") Watts, afterwards gave a very brief glimpse of their former classical strokes, Billy Kearns was bowled whilst trying to explain one of his jokes-his usual hard luck.
Southern District Cricket Association president and secretary, Messrs. Jack Ellis and Ron Hindmarsh, spoke highly of the wonderful hospitality of Fairfield Bowling Club, which made the players honorary members for the day, and the club's splendid amenities were made available to the cricketers.
The refreshment stall manned by Mesdames Williamson, Preston and Talbot netted a useful sum for the good causes.
Veteran umpires, Messrs. Bill Hatch and Bill Lavender, voluntarily officiated for the whole day.
Fairfield Citizens' Band, augmented by several Liverpool bandsmen, played during the afternoon and their musical numbers were greatly appreciated by the committee and the public.
The scores were: S. D. Association: R. Stimson 15, G. Diessell 15, G. Ferguson 0, P. O'Connor 3, K. Bryers 1, W. Wilkinson 35, J. Ellis 13, B. Jones 4, R. Stiles 1, K. Waights 0, R. Wilson 0, R Watts 6, sundries 1, total 94. Bowling: T, Andrews 0/3, L. Bell 5/11, R. Flockton 1/14, C. Churchill 0/12, B. Flynn 1/1, J. Graves 0/20, K. Wolfe 0/17, C. Cowie 1/6, Howick 3/0.
"Internationals." - A. Neilson 7, K. Wolfe 3, R. Flockton 2, B. Flynn 11, L. Bell 37, B. Purcell 16, C. Churchill 4, J. Graves 12, J. Raynor 4, C. Cowie 3, C. Curran 0, J. Brian 0, E. Spencer 5, Howick 1, sundries 3. Bowling: P. O'Connor 2/26, Wilson 2/24, K. Waights 5/33, G. Ferguson 0/15, K. Styles 3/7.
Jack Raynor, speaking at the mid-day meal, proved himself quite an orator, with a natural turn of witty humour.
The visitors were accompanied by some charming ladies.
Unfortunately for my grandfather, a very good cricketer, didn't trouble the scorer at this event.

The event had been advertised in the local paper the previous couple of weeks:
The Biz - 1st February 1951
The Biz - 15th February 1951

A couple of the notable names from the game include Clive Churchill, Bernie Purcell, and Billy Kearns. "Neale!" you exclaim, "I know who Clive Churchill and Bernie Purcell are, but who is Billy Kearns?" 

If I were to say "Hudson, that's 'udson with a haitch" does that ring a bell? Billy was the old man in the Hudson Hardware advertisements from the 1970s and 80s. Unfortunately, I can't find the ad on YouTube our elsewhere, but it still brings a smile to the face. Bill had a long and successful career as a comedian. He died in 1987. 

That's the joy of Trove, you look for one thing and stumble on something quite unexpected. I never knew my grandfather played against such luminaries of the Australia sporting world, let alone a voice from my childhood.


  1. Digging in Trove sure finds treasure.

  2. A great find. I am lucky that my grand father and GGF feature in NZ newspapers and have also been a source of pictures of them. Fran

    1. I like the way you can come across that sheds a new light on a relative.

  3. I keep on reading your blog post.. This was still amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing this unique informative post with us.. I really enjoyed by reading your blog post

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  5. Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. iii host

  6. Billy Kearns was my grandfather, I really enjoyed reading this.