John Hiscox moved to Mosman at the age of four, played baseball and cricket for Mosman from an early age and spent many years on the Committee of the Mosman Cricket Club. Having just completed writing the history of Mosman Cricket Club John is well versed to tell us about the Club, including the members that went on to fame and fortune outside Mosman.
Mosman Oval—Curator Jock Groat—-Snowy Gilchrist ?
Mosman Oval scoreboard Cyril Sutcliffe?
David (Binny) Boddham Whetham Balmoral (MJBA) Baseball stalwart.
Recently, I was passing through Augathella, in Western Queensland, and saw the “HOWZAT” number plate on a dusty red Rolls Corniche.
Mr Hiscox on tour?
Could you tell me if Bill Bassett took 6 wickets in an 8 ball over playing for Mosman against Petersham/Marrickville in a first grade fixture. I believe this deed was recognised as a ‘Champion performance’ by Champion Ready Rub tobacco company in their advertising literature at the time.
Running through Bill Bassett’s Diary I saw no mention of six wickets in eight balls. If I come across it I will post here.
Trust all’s as good as it can be ? Can you help me make contact with kerry wither and bruce field , from the baseball days ?
In Wolger Road or before – I remember in Raglan Street before when we moved in, 1937 and I went to Mosman kindergarten the next year, early 1938 and we moved every year, when we moved to Keston Avenue for probably a year then Somerset Street for a year and then Cowles Road for a year, then into 25 Wolger Road. It would have been 1941 I think because in 1942 I remember being huddled up in the corridor area of the house while the Japanese submarines came into the harbour, or whatever was going on in the harbour, noise and so on. I remember we were huddled up there.
I remember going with my mother to Mosman Primary School and watching her put cellophane on the windows because they thought that perhaps attacks were imminent, never happened of course, but all the windows in the school were cellophaned up.
Yes, well we lived in 25 Wolger Road and when I got married we moved in with my parents for a couple of years and my mother died and then the landlady under the law, apparently had to give first offer to the tenants so she wished to sell, and she did. So we bought that house in 1957 for £2,300, and we sold it in 1961 for £4,500, and went round to Rangers Avenue and bought that for £8,500, which nearly sent me broke.
Oh, I’m still a Mosman boy, yeah, definitely. I don’t follow Manly cricket club, I follow Mosman cricket club.
Well, we always used to walk down Almora Street and down the steps to get to the beach but it was a bit hairy to come back that way so we used to get the tram back up to Mosman Junction and then walk home from there. Back in those days there were three types of trams, there was the old jumping jacks, which were two short sorts of trams coupled together.
They used to mainly run on the line from Athol Wharf to Balmoral Beach and back again, and through a cutting through Gordon Street, Beaconsfield Road and a cutting down to the beach. And there was the ‘toast rack’ trams, which were open – had two compartments either end, completely open to the weather, had a hood over the top but on the sides they were open. And then about four compartments, I think, with doors in the middle. The conductor used to walk along a running board collecting the fares and he had a strap to pull to stop the tram and to start it again to tell the driver to get moving.
The newer trams had a corridor down the middle, so the conductor was inside the tram. They went off – I don’t remember the date, at the end of the ’50s. They were scrapped progressively through Sydney. I was quite pleased to see them go, I thought they were a nuisance to the traffic you couldn’t get past them because they stopped at every stop, the cars had to stop behind them and wait. Well, other people had different opinions but that was my opinion.
There were lines down to The Spit, at Spit Junction, as I said, a line down to The Spit, and then the other one went down to the Zoo, a branch at the Buena Vista Hotel down to Balmoral and a branch at Mosman Junction down to Mosman Wharf.
Well we used to go down to Memory Park after school and have a hit. Ian Craig lived around the corner, he came along too, the Scots along the road and Winslow’s the other side and a few others and we formed a little cricket team at one stage called Memory Park and we had a turf wicket because the bumpy old weeds were our wicket, which was the pride and joy and better than anybody else who only had a concrete wicket down at The Spit or something, which was much better in fact, but still.
And then Grahame Winslow along the road, his father used to go to the states on business and he brought back a baseball kit bag full of bats and gloves and so on, so we used to go down to Memory park again and throw a baseball around, and then we went to Balmoral – we couldn’t have been playing a game but we must have been just practicing if you like, and Jack Ahern from the cricket club found us and he talked us into coming to Mosman Oval. I forget if it was baseball first or cricket first, but we went to the cricket nets and we joined the Mosman Juvenile Baseball Association, which played every Saturday morning before the grade games in the winter. It’s all good fun.
Well, it just continued yes, right up till now if you like.
52 weeks of the year, 52 Saturdays of the year unless Christmas Day fell on a Saturday.
No, Mosman Oval was for the kids’ nets and for the juvenile baseball, but as we got older Mosman oval was used for senior cricket and baseball, and Balmoral was also used for senior cricket and baseball. But the grades went down, the first grade was basically Mosman Oval, Rawson was the second ground and Balmoral was the third ground.
Oh yes, the first one was Stan McCabe. I never saw him bat but I did know him through being treasurer of the club and he had a sports store where I used to buy all the gear from him. But he was a great cricketer.
Ian Craig became captain of Australia and the reason he was only a short-term captain really was because he got hepatitis and was out of cricket for 12 months or more, but enough to – because he never played test cricket again, it took a while to rehabilitate, get him back on his feet. We played state cricket again afterwards. But there was Graeme Hole before him, also a great batsman, he went – Don Bradman took him to South Australia, he played with South Australia then and Australia.
Gordon Rorke one of the fastest bowlers Australia has ever had. Dave Colley went to England in 1972, an opening bowler, and the next one would have been Alan I think and currently Brett Lee, even though Brett’s injured.
Bill Bassett I found this person Bill Bassett who I didn’t know of before who was a great leg spin bowler back in the 1920s, got a poultice (query) of wickets but never got picked in the state side. In his scrapbook in the library there are lots of cuttings of – editorials, if you like, or reports, headed up, ‘Why isn’t Bassett playing for NSW his average is better than Arthur Maley’, and things like that. But he never made it.
Well Ken [Gulliver] really took over from Bill Bassett, he started in 1st grade at the very end of the ’20s just as Bill Bassett was fading out and then Ken played continuously with the war sort of interrupting things, but continuously through to about the early ’60s, ’62 probably, ’63, first grade cricketer and then he continued on playing down in the minor grades, not second or third grade he went down to teach the kids in the northern suburbs competition. He played till he was probably 70.
Oh, Keith Carmody – Keith Carmody, commonly known as Bendy because they thought he was around the bend (laughs). He – I remember him taking us as kids – put the nets at Tantallon Oval at Lane Cove to play a game of cricket up there, and he was a player and coached, but then he was in the war, became a POW, shot down while flying an aeroplane somewhere, anyway he got out after the war, came back here and played about two seasons I think and then went to West Australia to captain West Australia’s first ever Sheffield Shield side and they won it in the first year they played. After a period there he came back here and was club coach for a year or two. I used to see him reasonably regularly.
Two international captains, there is probably only about one other clubs that can match that and that would be in Melbourne.
Well cricket is an expensive sport if you like from a council point of view, probably is from the players point of view too, but from the council point of view you’ve got to have a wicket prepared. You must have a fence, the fence also is there for other sports but you must have a fence, sight/site-screens for everybody else, and then you’ve got three ovals to do all that for – dressing rooms, a pavilion but we always want a bit more and we weren’t getting satisfaction in the earlier days from council or we didn’t think we were, so three of us were nattering away one day over a beer, John Sykes, myself, and Dom Lopez and we said, ‘one of us ought to get onto council and see if we can smarten things up a bit for sport’, and John who was an insurance broker said, ‘well, I’ve got an insurance business to worry about’, I said, ‘I’m in an accounting firm, I’ve got to worry about that’, so Dom said, ‘ok, I’ll stand for council’, and he did and you know the history of Dom.
Well, we couldn’t play on Sundays. I can’t recall whether Dom was in council then or not but certainly he did have quite a bit to say about it, I remember that. We had to go to the Town Hall and put our case and finally won.
Yes, the pavilion was open in 1939 and it was unopen – not the bottom part but the seating area was all open. In the mid-80s we convinced council to close off the back part, glass it in make a bit of a room out of it, mainly for – not really a club room but for scorers to get out of the weather and that sort of thing, so the soccer club and the cricket club both put in $35,000.00 payable over 10 years, plus interest, to glass that in and make a bit of a cubby house for us.
When we played in Frezno the umpire who was an American turned up in his car with a number plate ‘Howzat’, and that tickled my fancy so I thought if the system ever comes to NSW I’ll grab that number plate, well, in 1981 it did so I applied for it and got it, and put it on my old 1952 Daimler and put it on the Mosman Oval in front of the score board for the 75th – well, it was really to make a label to put on a wine bottle for our 75th anniversary of the club.
Yes, you’ve got a dance card out there, which is quite fascinating. We used to have balls, yes at Mosman Town Hall and they were – well like the Trocadero, there is a big area to ballroom dance, you don’t get that these days, it’s a little square of rock ‘n rolling. I don’t know, the atmosphere seems to have gone from that and nobody ballroom dances anymore, that seems gone. They have something called a ball every year but I think it’s more of a drink-up. I don’t go.
It was voluntary labour to get an oval built and probably oval is a bad word, a ground would be a better word, it wasn’t up to first grade standard so when we were allowed into the competition we were only allowed to play second grade because of the state of the oval. So players of first grade status had to play with North Sydney or Middle Harbour. Eventually, with more work on the ground we were admitted to first grade status in 1921/22, and I think we might have even come second that year – it doesn’t matter, but Mosman Oval was the first grade oval all the way up to 1939. It started off in 1908 with a little dressing shed which was really the ground keeper’s room for his machinery, rollers or whatever, and the players had to go in and change one thing at a time because it was so small. And in 1912 they built another grandstand; it wouldn’t be a pavilion but a grandstand, a wooden structure, which sufficed till 1939, when the present pavilion was built.
But in the meantime in 1927/28 Rawson Oval was opened with a new pavilion so the first grade moved up to Rawson Oval and played there as the first grade ground until 1939 when the new pavilion was put on Mosman Oval. So Mosman Oval then continued as the first grade ground. It was re-named in the early ’90s as the ‘Alan Border Oval’, in respect to Alan. I think there was a move to alter the street in which he lived, the crescent, which goes round the oval to Alan Border Crescent but the locals didn’t like that so instead of the street the oval became his name.
In later years, we’ve swapped a little bit between Mosman and Rawson Oval depending on the state of the ground. I’ve got to say that soccer does destroy the wicket area and we haven’t, in recent years been able to grow grass on the center wicket, which led us to go back to Rawson Oval as our first grade ground but last year we turfed – it cost us $10,000.00, but we re-turfed the wicket and moved back to Mosman Oval and hopefully that’s going to last us for a while.
Well the scoreboard used to be in the southwest corner as just a blackboard if you like with a platform that kids stood on and put up numbers and people’s names. That was probably moved over to the other side of the oval in the early ’70s I would think. I can’t really put a year on that.
It was used for a while but now it’s hard to get people to come and use it, to actually do the scoring for us, we used to have lots of kids come and do that we’ve still got 300 kids playing cricket in the area but we can’t get them up to do the scoreboard.
No, no the stand hasn’t moved, no.
Well, earlier on in my early days in the ’50s it was more of an egg shape and it was a funny looking oval, but the council did expand it and made it into a really a true oval. A new fence was put around it last year – the beginning of last season – instead of the old picket fence, which used to rot out and when cricketers or even other sports would kick balls against the palings, they’d fall out, so now we have the latest (indistinct) aluminum fence, which hopefully, will last forever.
Cricket, Mosman Oval, Balmoral Beach, Rangers Avenue