Heroes of the Ages
– THE FOUNDATION CLUBS –
Written by Lyall Gardner OAM
Honorary Club Historian
In April 1859 an advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald calling on the various clubs in Sydney which played social cricket, to meet “for the purpose of forming an Association.” The result of that and subsequent meetings was that in the following December the New South Wales Cricket Association was formed with one of its main directions being to organise local cricket in a more structured way so as to improve the quality and playing strength of the local NSW colonial team which had begun playing against Victoria in 1856.
By the 1880s, a Sydney club cricket competition was under way with some clubs locality based such as Bathurst, Carlingford, Petersham and Stanmore. However, the greater strength resided in the non-localised clubs namely Albert, Belvidere, Carlton, Incogniti, University and Warwick.
An expanding population at that time saw many people shifting from metropolitan Sydney into newly created suburbs. This movement forced the creation of more parks and ovals in those outer-areas by recently established municipal councils thus helping to overcome the ground shortage problem which had restricted the Association’s ability to develop the game.
Electoral boundaries provided greater community recognition and in 1893 the NSW Cricket Association decided to establish a Premier Competition comprising clubs from the various electorates and Sydney University. This was the start of Sydney Grade cricket which commenced from the 1893-94 season. The eight teams making up the competition were East Sydney, Glebe, Manly, Paddington, University, Central Cumberland, Redfern and Canterbury. The following season four more clubs, Waverley, North Sydney, South Sydney and Leichhardt were added to expand the competition to 12 clubs. Qualification to play with each club was based on residential location.
The success of the Grade Cricket concept resulted in a 2nd Grade competition being added in 1895-96 while a 3rd Grade was included in 1899-1900.
Petersham District Cricket Club
The Petersham Electorate Cricket Club was established following a public meeting presided over by the Mayor of the Petersham Borough Council at the Town Hall on 3 July 1899. Office bearers were elected and rules approved at a meeting two weeks later. Mr Walter F Eames was elected the first Hon. Secretary and Mr A C Rofe the first Hon. Treasurer. The Mayor of Petersham Borough Council, Ald. J W Cockbaine was the club’s first President. The club first fielded teams in 1899-1900 in the 2nd and 3rd Grade competitions conducted by the NSW Cricket Association.
In 1907-08 the club was admitted to 1st Grade and accordingly changed its name to Petersham District Cricket Club. At the same time there were name changes at the council with Petersham Borough Council becoming Petersham Municipality Council. Sydney Smith, who later became President of the NSW Cricket Association, was the first Hon. Secretary of Petersham as a 1st Grade club with Edwin Tyler Hon. Treasurer. Alderman FL Langdon was the President.