Many years ago I picked up a small book, ‘The Art of Coarse Sport’ by English writer Michael Green, in which he defined a coarse sportsman as “one who, when his club receives a grant from the (government), wants to spend it on extending the bar”.
Gave me a quiet chuckle at the time.
Then I discovered the Turners Beach Cricket Club.
The origins of the TBCC came about after the first season of the Turners Beach Football Club, when the Seagulls came 4th (out of 5 it must be admitted). After losing the first semi-final the boys were drowning their sorrows in the public bar of Ulverstone’s Furners Hotel.
“Let’s form a cricket team to keep the boys together over summer”.
“How do we start”?
“Call a public meeting at the Turners Beach hall.”
Such a meeting was duly arranged, with inaugural TBFC coach Len Pearce the chief organiser.
As well as being the un-paid non-playing coach during TBFC’s first season, Len was the proprietor of the general store at the Beach.
He was also a cricketer of some note, representing Ulverstone as an opening bowler for most of the previous 20 seasons and indeed chosen to play for Tasmania against a South African team in 1956.
He was obviously going to be a key figure in the formation of any new team.
The public meeting thus called quickly agreed on the formation of a team to play in the Leven Cricket Association, basically the country cricket competition centred on Ulverstone which played on matting covered concrete pitches.
The meeting then turned its attention to the provision of the necessary equipment – bats, pads, stumps etc. which would all need to be quickly obtained by this new club.
“Hang on a minute,” said Len, “We can always borrow some of the opposition’s gear to get started, and some individuals will have their own bats and pads which can be shared”.
“No,” he added,” If we’re going to be toiling away on these flat concrete slabs, we’re going to need some cold post match refreshments on hand straight after the match”.
It was therefore quickly decided that the first item to be purchased by the TBCC was a fridge.
Within weeks, well before our first game, this had been arranged and installed in the small shed used as a temporary shop by the TBFC.
The fridge itself, by removing all its shelves, could hold exactly 35 ‘long-necks’, carefully stacked on their sides.
Before each home game a trio of players would be despatched to buy and then stack three dozen bottles of Boags finest from the nearby bowls club.
Now, those of you who mastered basic year 10 maths would have realised that this process left one bottle surplus to requirements so, rather than let it warm in the summer heat (!), it was swiftly disposed of by the volunteer couriers.
Which probably goes some way to explaining why the team was somewhat unsuccessful in its first season.
Actually, we only won one game, though that was particularly memorable.
It was the first post-Christmas match, the first Saturday in January 1972. Gawler, one of the stronger teams, batted first and scored about 230. (Games in the LCA were all one day 50 overs a side matches).
We had started with only 10 men, roping in a young Martin Flanagan holidaying nearby as a fielding sub. Unbeknownst to the team, recent recruit, police officer Darryl Parker, had been called away on duty.
Our innings had just started when Parker appeared. By the time he had changed and padded up we were 2 for 20. An hour or so later we passed their score with 5 down and Parker on a blazing 140 odd not out.
I don’t think 35 bottles was quite enough that night as we celebrated long into the night.
We had turned the corner, we had truly arrived as a force in the LCA.
Sadly, Darryl scored two first ball ducks in the next two matches and we failed to win another game.
Still the foundation was laid and in recent years the club has gone on to become one of the most successful in the LCA.
Hopefully the players have just as much fun today as we did back in the early ‘70s, though I note the clubrooms built in the late ‘70s contains a fridge which holds substantially more than 35 bottles.