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7 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

The committee was quick

The committee was quick off the mark and a week later five acres, close to the Anglican vicarage, now known as “The Gables”, had been leased from Mr. Judge. Their actions were endorsed and work was quickly started to level and turf the ground with the hope of a spring opening; a special subscription list was opened to help defray the cost of this work. 6 It took longer than expected and the opening match of the season, married men v. single men, was played on F.C. Murray’s paddock and was declared a draw when light stopped play. At a committee meeting after the game it was decided to hold a practice twice a week; in Murray’s paddock on Mondays and in H. White’s paddock on Thursdays, until the club grounds were ready. The club usually fielded reasonably competitive teams and for the most part their standard of play was not far below that of their opponents, although they were certainly not consistent. Thus in a match against Woolston the Lincoln team won by 43 runs, they were beaten by 3 wickets when they played Sunnyside, and won against the Bakers’ team at Lincoln by 7 wickets. The pitch was in such a poor state for this match that the batsmen found the bowling, especially that of the fast bowlers, intimidating, and were glad to be dismissed. In a home match in March 1879 the Lincoln team beat the Midland Cricket Club by 8 runs on the first innings, but two years later they were well beaten by the Midland team who scored 290 runs against Lincoln’s 23 and of these 290 runs 39 were conceded as extras because of Lincoln’s poor fielding and the absence of a wicket keeper! Not surprisingly, the Lincoln team was demoralised by Midland’s batting and running, but the fact that Lincoln was without the services of some of its better players, and that their innings began late in the afternoon in poor light apparently contributed to this abysmal performance. 7 Occasionally a report of a club meeting mentions rules, but goes no further. However, The Press reports that at the Annual General Meeting in September 1884 the club resolved: 8 1. That no person, other than those who were in good standing with the club, be allowed to use the club’s ground. 2. That senior members attend practice at 3 pm on Mondays and Fridays, and that junior members practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 3. That there were to be no other practice days unless at least nine members requested the same. Just as the fees noted earlier seemed likely to exclude the less well off, the practice times must have also made it difficult for a waged employee to take part. 130

The club again fell on hard times, a consequence perhaps of the long depression of the 1880s, or because of a lack of interest, or a combination of both. The Lyttelton Times of 18 September 1888 states that “owing to a consequence of adverse circumstances” the former club, one of the best in the country, was disbanded and that organized cricket had not been played in the district for some years. Because conditions had improved a meeting of interested persons decided to form a new club which was to be known as the Lincoln United Cricket Club. A.P. O’Callaghan MHR was elected President and Dr Westenra and Messrs D. Broome, F. Burnell, A. Dunnett, A.W. Stegall, F. Townshend and A. McNae were elected to the committee. The entrance fee was set at seven shillings and six pence for adults, and five shillings for boys under 16, a cost perhaps beyond the resources of the working man. It was hoped to begin the season in October, in a paddock made available by F. Hill who owned sections near the corner of Leinster Terrace and Market Square. 9 There are no records of consequence for the remaining years of the 19th century, although the Star records that in November 1894 Lincoln United beat Lincoln College by 17 runs. It is not known how long this club lasted, but the present Lincoln Cricket Club was formed in about 1945 and continues to flourish today. School cricket was a feature of the early days and as early as 1869 a local school team was competing against neighbouring schools. Thus, in December of that year the Lincoln and Halswell school teams played at Halswell on land lent by Mr G. Sandrey where the Halswell flag, bearing the word Excelsior, flew above the scoring tent. The Lincoln team, hitherto considered invincible, was soundly beaten by an innings and 39 runs, “a result which appeared to astonish them most thoroughly”. The Lincoln team may have lost its form, for their fielding was apparently very loose and their batsmen found the fast, straight, underarm bowling of their opponents difficult to handle. James Mayes, Halswell backstop, was very efficient and in two innings only gave away four extras, in contrast to the 26 conceded by the Lincoln team. The umpires were Messrs Jacobson and Elwin, schoolmasters at Lincoln and Halswell respectively. 10 The Lincoln team may have been astonished at their defeat, but they must have been aware that Halswell had recently defeated a Prebbleton school team by nine wickets and that they would be facing formidable opponents. The return match was played at Lincoln on December 31 1869. Although it was raining, the Halswell team arrived only to find that not one of the Lincoln team had bothered to turn up. However, Mr Jacobson gathered them in and the match started at 1.30pm when Halswell went in 131

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