HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF CRICKET IN RYDALMERE 1946-1958
Former Wrens player JIM BUTLER
I received a phone call out-of-the blue in late 2020 by a youthful 81 year old gentleman, JIM BUTLER (who doesn't look a day over 70!), who now lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I didn’t know Jim and he didn’t know me. Somehow, he managed to find the Rydalmere Cricket Club website and my mobile number despite having no idea on how to type an email let alone use the internet.
I had no expectation of Jim but he provided me with priceless cricket artefacts concerning cricket in the 1940 and 1950s in Rydalmere.
It was a phone call I was pleased to receive and we soon struck up an hour-long conversation about his lifelong love of cricket and his upbringing living in Rydalmere in the 1950s. Of course, the main reason for calling was to provide me with the rich history of cricket in the Rydalmere area in the mid 1940s and 1950s.
And what a brilliant conversation we had!
Jim is a spritely 81 years old man so I could hear the passion he still has for cricket. I soon appreciated the historical significance of Jim’s recollections of Rydalmere cricket which still hold true today, some 75 years later.
To put this in context, Jim’s vivid recollections are from 1946, which are:
If that doesn’t impress you then nothing will.
HISTORICAL CRICKET SCOREBOOKS AROUND 70 YEARS AGO
Remarkably, Jim sent me a treasure trove of cricket memorabilia for Rydalmere cricket:
HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF CRICKET IN RYDALMERE AREA
Finally, Jim took the time to prepare his recollections of playing cricket during this era. What Jim left out of his report was the fact that he was a sensational all-rounder. His batting averages were Bradmanesque and he bowled like a demon – taking a bag of wickets with the ball. What a champion!
I’m pleased to provide you with Jim’s recollections. You are also welcome to view the scorebooks. Join me in thanking Jim for providing this important history to our club……
As you can see by the old scorebooks Rydalmere Cricket was alive and well in the 40s and 50s the Rydalmere Britons played out of the family hotel which along with Hellyers Produce General Store and the Servo was the hub of the community those days.
We moved to Rydalmere in 1946 my father Eddie Butler played for the Britons for many years, the team played "A" Reserve in the PDCA.
I spoke to the historian and stats man from the PDCA Eric Wyatt who told me among other things other teams did not like the trip to Rydalmere for two reasons one the ground, the other Bill Anderson. As the story goes when the word got round Bill had his eye in the pubs takings suffered.
A prolific run getter and along with Andy Meaghan were the backbone of the team for many years when they retired in 1958 the Rydalmere Britons pulled stumps. Britons was the beer of the day until Millers took over in 1958.
Rydalmere Park for want of a better word was unique it was completely devoid of vegetation from backward point to square leg at the South Street End.
The well-worn shortcut across the field that workers used to get to their jobs made the bowlers run up at the pub end awkward to say the least. The facilities at the ground were a water tap and a brick Thunderbox (no showers) down amongst the trees I don't think it was ever used given the stories as what could be in there?
In 1952, Rydalmere entered two teams in the NDCA a 4th grade and an under 16 side, my Father and my Uncle Jack Colman and along with the family hotels backing, ensured we got off to a flyer.
Both teams won their respective competitions and both were undefeated, the 4th grade were promoted to 2nd grade and played in that division till 1957 when they folded.
The likes of Bobby Gooch, Ron Woods, Ray Marchant and Barry Shipley bring back memories as I played the 1954/55 season with the team after playing Juniors in the morning. The under 16s had a cracker of a team we lost one match in three seasons, the majority of us played the three years we played on bare concrete pitch with a composition cork ball.
We had a second team 1954/55 with a couple of chaps who would take over from my father but it was short lived as they only lasted one season.
We had five players represent our club in the NDCA Watson shield team of 1954 /55 we played as Rydalmere/West Ryde as they said Rydalmere was out of their boundaries. What happened to Rydalmere cricket between the 50s and 60s is anyone’s guess given the population boom the whole area when we moved there in 1946 you could stand on Spurway St corner and see nothing but paddocks in all directions.
But within ten years the housing commission and war service had just about built out Rydalmere and Ermington, Rydalmere was the only ground in the area we played our matches at, Meadowbank, Marsfield and West Epping.
I still keep in touch with a with some of the old boys, anyway a little trivia most of the streets on the River Side of Victoria Rd between Spurway St and Atkins Rd are named after Aussie cricketers Victor Trumper, Bannerman Murdock etc.
The Ermington hotel and shops are in Rydalmere and the Rydalmere east public school is in Ermington, (that’s a fact).
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the administrations past and present of the Rydalmere cricket club for the great job they have done in getting Rydalmere cricket to where it is today.
"Go The Mighty Wrens"
Kind Regards, Jim Butler