Montville Cricket – A mostly even playing field
Montville Cricket – A mostly even playing field
by Cate and Doug Patterson, Montville History Group
Two remarkable photos from the early 1900s came to light from a Smith Family Collection. One is of early settlers with seven of the men named, the other is of an Indigenous team in their whites. Both photos are taken on the Village Green. They suggest that cricket at Montville was a rare opportunity for an even playing field for these young men.
The Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser gives us a glimpse into the early days of cricket in Montville. It would appear to be mainly social cricket with, at times, a very local bent. It reported that, on the King’s Birthday Holiday in 1903, the ‘young fellows’ challenged the ‘married men’ to a game on the ‘Village Green’, with the young fellows winning by 65 runs and 3 wickets.
A later story from 1911 reports on a Ladies versus the Gents game, suggested by Lil Bowser, where the Ladies won convincingly. The game was played with the addition of several local rules. The ‘Gents’ had to bat with 1 hand – the left, had to bowl underarm and had to field with 1 hand. The highlight of the day was a mighty six hit by Miss R. Dart.
Of course, there was a more serious Montville Cricket Team because there was an announcement of the local (Montville) cricket team holding a prize night that was to include a concert and dance in the School of Arts Hall in 1906.
Practice cricket and any other Sports Days were held on the Village Green opposite the Hall until the Montville Sports and Recreation Grounds was established in 1925. The land was purchased for £500 from J.J. Thomas. A further £500 was spent on building two tennis courts, and a football field/cricket oval. Ten locals guaranteed the loan and five trustees were appointed to manage the grounds. Admission was set at 2 shillings (20 cents).
Up until 1925, the Montville Reserve Cricket Team claimed Palmwoods as its home ground. The Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser records a decisive victory Montville had over Nambour at Palmwoods in 1922. Nambour was all out for 40 in its first innings.
The regular games of cricket were later interrupted by WWII, but after the war, a new and very competitive team emerged.
Artie Glover; Allan Harper; Les Harper; Les Farmer; George Bampton; Graeme Butt; Vince Sinclair (Captain); Tony Barnett; Don Williams; Ernie Manley; Ted Palmer; Ken Johnston; Barry Shea; Ivan Hansen; Ken Lunn; Godfrey McCulloch took the team through the post-war 1940s and 1950s.
In 1956, on Saturday, November 23, Les Harper and Les Farmer opened for Montville against Palmwoods, both making centuries. Then on Sunday 24, Les Harper christened his daughter, Sue; and Les Farmer christened his son, David. That weekend has certainly gone down as memorable and a time for celebrating in both families!
Terry Glover, son of Artie, was not a cricketer but grew up next to the sports ground and was a confessed supporter and hanger-on. He recalls joining a group of youngsters every Saturday morning before a game to pick up the cowpats. (Dairy farmer, West-Newman, whose farm bordered the sports ground on its southern side, ran his herd over the oval to keep the grass down.)
Montville were Premiers in 1962, and by now, Mapleton sport had declined and the success of the Montville team was attracting players from Flaxton and Mapleton as well. One was a teenage quick, Rob Nichols, whose best figures included 10 for 66 against Eudlo and 9 for 13 against Maroochydore.
By the late 60s to early 70s, Montville Cricket boasted two teams. David Farmer kept up the successful record of quicks with best figures of 9 for 15 against Nambour while 10 year- old Richard Barnett picked up 5 for 4 in his first game with the team.
Although there was some lantana, raspberry cane and privet growing on the roadside of the oval, any ball hit on to the road rolled rapidly down the road and over the edge and off the Range towards Chenrezig.
In 1975, twins, Daniel and Thomas Roth, joined the team. Their parents had Flaxton Barn and built a practice cricket net behind the barn where many of the team trained. The boys shared a VW Beetle and drove younger players with them to games.
During a home game, Thomas hit a ball down to fine leg and the fielder signalled 4. Thomas and Richard stopped running and stood talking in the middle of the wicket. The fielder threw the ball to the keeper who ripped off the bails and appealed.
It turned out the ball had not reached the boundary and Thomas was eventually given out. Incensed by such a blatant act of cheating, twin Daniel jumped into the VW and took after the offending fieldsman, chasing him around and off the field!
Cricket was played at Montville for over 70 years from the 1900s to the 1970s. When the oval was converted into a soccer field, the old concrete wicket was dug up – no longer used and in the way of the refurbished ground.
The tin shed may be gone and the stories are fading but the game of cricket remains an important legacy for a village with no pub. It helped build the community we live in today.
If you enjoyed this story check out similar ones at monvillehistory.org.au
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