The Wrens have just completed their 47th season in the NDCA. As many of you are aware, we are presently writing our history. To be done properly, this will be a long and difficult task with many gaps already identified that will need to be filled. The history will be in three parts. The first part will focus on our pre-history and the origin of the Wrens. Part 2 will examine the period from the start of the Wrens in 1965 to the end of the 1999-2000 season. The final part will detail the first decade of the 21st Century. Part 1 is presently in draft form, a summary of which is presented below.
Newly crowned Wrens historian – Doctor Peter Tate – has selflessly volunteered his time and enormous talents to prepare this historical document of the Wrens! The task is particularly challenging as it includes significant research into the local Rydalmere area and the origins of the Wrens Cricket Club. Pete has also meticulously trawled over almost every scorebook since 2000 to compile a database of all playing records for the past 12 seasons. What an amazing achievement!
I am extremely proud of the work that Pete has done all by himself, at extraordinary personal time commitment, to get the Wrens History up and running. Please join me in wholeheartedly thanking Pete for his dedication to the Wrens Clubs. I look forward to a published document that will forever document the origins, successes, failures, the character and players that have built and been a part of this highly successful cricket club. I am pleased to introduce the start of the Wrens History.
Matt Roberts, Secretary, Rydalmere Cricket Club
Feathered Edges Summary of Part 1
Our story is not only about the Rydalmere Cricket Club itself, but also about those individuals who helped mould the club and the relationships among the players and officials and between the club and our controlling body, the Northern Districts Cricket Association. Inextricably, our story is linked with the social development of the NSW colony and particularly with that of the Parramatta region. Therefore, early parts of the book focus on the social history of the district and how the Rydalmere Cricket Club emerged as part of that social history.
Naturally, there is considerably more information and fresher memories of the latter years in the club and that is where the emphasis of this story lies. Nevertheless, there is sufficient information available to form a general outline of the early years of the club and to acknowledge the effort put in by many for the benefit of others.
In late April 1788, just three months after first landing in the new colony, an area known as Rose Hill (renamed Parramatta) was selected to produce food for the colony. Less than a month later the first Code of Laws for cricket were adopted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Since that time the MCC has been given the authority for changing the Laws of Cricket.
With farming came ancillary activities, other trades: carpenters, blacksmiths, and their families. By 1800 the population of Parramatta was almost double that of Sydney. With families and successful farming techniques came time for recreation, clubs and organised sporting associations. So it’s no real surprise that the Parramatta District Cricket Club arose as one of the oldest clubs in Sydney, founded in 1843. Back then the club was known as Central Cumberland.
In 1866, orchardist Thomas O’Neill purchased land east of Parramatta. He called the area Rydalmere: “Rydal” after the town of the same name in Cumbria in the Lakes District in England and “mere” meaning “lake” in old English.
One of the earliest records of a cricket game involving players representing the Rydalmere area was held on Saturday 28th May 1892. The Aldermen of the Rydalmere and Ermington Borough played the Aldermen of the Dundas Borough. Rydalmere won quite easily with Alderman Kirby taking nine for one against Dundas. We’re not sure of the venue for this match, but with figures like that, it sounds as if the standard of the pitch was questionable. The current assertion that Rydalmere teams bowl better than they bat obviously has its foundation in the very origin of cricket in the area.
Perhaps the earliest “open” match involving representatives of the Rydalmere area was played on 7th December 1901 between Wayfarers and Rydalmere Hospital. The match was played at Rydalmere Oval on what is now the Victoria Road car park of the University of Western Sydney. In reply to the Wayfarers 107, Rydalmere Hospital scored 44.
By 1903 the City and Suburban cricket competition had started. The main aim of the association was to provide a good standard of cricket matches without the pressure that comes with playing grade cricket – all day, all weekend, all over Sydney. Rydalmere Hospital joined the City and Suburban Association for the 1904-05 season. Early match reports are sparse, but Rydalmere Hospital must have been competitive, at least.
The City and Suburban AGM in 1910 highlighted two Rydalmere Hospital players: E.Cox 1348 runs at an average of 71 and J.Cronin 107 wickets at an average of 16.5 – pretty useful statistics. Cronin took all ten wickets in one match (strangely, Finneran took all ten wickets against Rydalmere in the same match) and represented a Combined City and Suburban Association team on several occasions in the 19-teens.
Importantly for the Wrens, a hotel was opened in the early 1900s on the corner of Victoria Road and Park Road. This hotel became the Family Inn, the proprietors of which have generously sponsored the Rydalmere Cricket Club for many years. Now, on Saturday nights in summer, the “Wrens Nest” is the scene of many white-clad warriors reliving the heroics, or despairs, of the afternoon’s endeavours.
Between the two World Wars there was a steady increase in the populations of the Ermington, Rydalmere, Dundas areas. Despite this, the area was still largely rural, dominated by orchards and market gardens. Post World War II, the Housing Commission began to resume and purchase large areas of land in the greater Parramatta area. The upsurge of housing in the area brought with it young families. Young families meant children and children in the 1940s and 50s meant sport (no television, no Wii, no computers) and the need for organised, outdoor activities.
In 1951 the local newspaper was the Cumberland Argus. Social networking comprised meeting people at work, a dance or at the local church picnic. Two-way communication was by word-of-mouth or landline telephone. The local newspaper was the source of much information. Results from the previous weeks play were detailed in the newspapers, teams and venues for upcoming matches were provided. Today, text messages are sent to team members seeking their availability, teams selected and people notified by text message – simple.
During the 1940s, a Rydalmere Cricket Club entered teams in B and C grade Parramatta Junior District Cricket competitions as well as in the U16s. In this context “junior” meant non-grade. The U16s were “juveniles” and there were no club competitions for players of lower age. The last record of this Rydalmere Cricket Club in the Parramatta Competition was in the 1950-51 season, fielding a B1 Div.2 team and an U16s team.
The first record of a Rydalmere Club in the Northern District Cricket Association Competition was in the following season. It is likely that they were one and the same club, having changed associations probably because the NDCA grounds were closer to the Rydalmere area.
They played until the end of the 1954-55 season before disappearing from the NDCA. A Rydalmere Rovers team registered in the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons, but they withdrew from the competition part-way through their second season. The reason was unknown, but probably due to a lack of players.
The NDCA registered two Rydalmere Wrens teams (U10s and U16s) for the 1965-66 season. Both teams finished about mid-table. In the 47 seasons since then, the Wrens have fielded 274 teams and taken out 88 premierships – a strike rate of almost one-in-three.
GO THE MIGHTY WRENS!!!
Wrens Historian and Legend