Kapunda Cricket Club’s sesquicentenary: Ten made ducks

Peter Argent KCC - Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy, talented cricketer (and golfer and footballer and historian and teacher) and all round great bloke at the Kapunda CC celebration. Pic: Peter Argent


In 1880 the Australian Test side played a match in Kapunda against a local team. The shops shut at noon and thousands gathered. The national captain, Billy Murdoch, congratulated the club on the Dutton Park pitch. It was coconut matting.


The national side made 401 with opening batsman AC Bannerman registering a century. The local side accumulated eighty, despite there being a batting line-up of twenty-two chaps. Only one fellow, TR Bright, got to double-figures with twenty-seven. Ten made ducks. Can you imagine a Wade/ Maxwell conversation happening back then?


“Hey Skip, got a minute?”


“Sure. What’s the problem?”


“I see you’ve got Bennett coming in at eighteen. And I’m batting at nineteen.”


“That’s right. He’s actually made a run this year.”

Saturday night saw the celebration of Kapunda Cricket Club’s sesquicentenary, and it was held at Dutton Park. Arriving late afternoon Woodsy, Bobby Bowden and I wandered down to catch the closing stages of the A grade fixture against Freeling. On the grass and under the shade we had a yarn with Tolly, Bart, Whitey, Goose and Rexy who were taking refreshment as preparation for the evening. Kapunda took four wickets to secure second place.


Away games still mean meeting at Rawady’s deli in the Main Street, just next door to the Sir John Franklin hotel. Thirty years ago, we’d head off to Eudunda or Angaston or Truro in a car with no air-conditioning. FM radio barely existed. Bench seats like those in HQ Holdens allowed six so only two cars might be needed. Toranas and 180Bs were rightly seen as selfish.


You’d be squeezed in and somewhere like Riverton was only about twenty minutes away, but with cramping calves and eyes stinging with the smoke of a dozen Winny Reds you’d slide from the seat with a soaking back like you were being born.


This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.




In a change room at Dutton Park some memorabilia is on display. I wander through. Old bats- GN Scoops and Fielkes, and boxes – such as the one made famous by Froggy are there, as are old score books. One from 1987 is on a bench and Bobby Bowden finds the match against Greenock, the one cruelly documenting his eighteen ball over. I’d forgotten that he and I opened the batting, but then when this happened, why would we?


Sudden by international standards, the demise of England’s G Swann was glacial compared to Bobby’s. At the start of his final ever over for the Kapunda Cricket Club he was a reliable medium pacer. Eleven agonising minutes later his bowling career was dead.


It began with a couple of wides, progressed to a malignant lack of confidence and culminated with Bob, broken, walking to the wicket like it was the gallows, and trying to complete a legitimate delivery. It often ended up at slip, or skidding forlornly, ashamedly, down to fine leg. His mental self-disintegration was total.


Subsequent pub analysis confirms that Bob’s eighteen-ball over only contained seven legal deliveries, and therefore nearly thirty years on, remains incomplete. I was at mid-off, and lobbed the ball to him, fifteen times. I felt increasingly like I was throwing him a box jellyfish. Or a can of XXXX.


This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.


Cricket clubs provide much. Social instruction. Gentle exercise. Weekend structure. But mostly they generate memories. Eagle Rock with whites around ankles, slopping up beer and Bundy in a Tarlee disco. Tony Clarke spinning the black vinyl of “Walk Like An Egyptian.” A fella like Flab who, in astonishing dedication, wore his cricket whites until Tuesday. Twice. Did these have to be burnt? If we had a nuclear waste storage facility (no doubt on the site of the former Railway Hotel) they probably should have gone in there.


I think of Spoofy. I think of the front bar in Puffa’s late on summer afternoons. Boys drinking West End from handles. No TAB or big screens. No pumping music. Just three coins, clasped behind the back. Not trying to win, but trying not to lose. Goose Mickan. Someone chirping, “Good call.”


The final moment and someone – hopefully not yourself, trudging off to buy for everyone like GS Chappell after his fifth consecutive duck. This, of course, all belongs spiritually to Whitey, the patron saint of Spoofy, or as he now calls it, “The Free Beer Game.”


This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.




And then, late afternoon somehow squeezing back into the HQ Holden as Chris Hayward once said, “Like ten pounds of spuds in a five-pound bag” we’d drive through the dusty warmth back home. This often included calling through a pub like the Greenock Tavern to get a long neck in a brown paper bag. One each for the journey.


Just as the drive to cricket could seem eternally long, as a seventeen-year-old the trip with a derro could be horribly brief as now within Kapunda’s town-limits you tried to gulp down the last of the beer. The HQ would swing into a park outside the Clare Castle Hotel, and you’d stare down the neck of the bottle, looking for the fish bones you’re sure are swimming about in there, wondering how the older blokes actually drank the stuff. Safely inside, after three schooners of Nugget’s finest, you’d recovered and all was fine. You were set.


This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.




It was a great night. There were stories from JL Mosey and Sarge Johnston and laughs and life memberships. Former Test cricketer Wayne Phillips made a funny speech in which he referenced Fatcat and IVA Richards and the beginning of his relationship with his wife which, in part, began atop Gundry’s Hill overlooking Kapunda.


After midnight, everyone drifts outside to the veranda. It seems like it’s only nine o’clock. There’s a looming full moon and the skittish clouds race across the velvet. After a blistering week, the cool change is arriving.


I call back into the club next morning on my way home and ask what time the celebration wound up. Matt says, “I left at ten to four and there were still about sixty here.” Impressive.


Some nights the stories just won’t let you go to bed. There’s too much to say, too many hands to shake.


And, this is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. Beaut Mickey. Hard to believe that someone would rename a game called Spoofy

  2. Thanks Dave. Here’s a quick summary of spoof(y)-

    Spoof is a strategy game, typically played as a gambling game, often in bars and pubs where the loser buys the other participants a round of drinks. A guessing game where each person holds zero to three coins in one hand behind his back. The person who guesses closest to the actual total among all in the group drops out. The exact origin of the game is unknown, but one scholarly paper addressed it, and more general n-coin games, in 1959. It is an example of a zero-sum game.

    I heard it originated in English public schools where, for instance, someone would say, “We’ve got Geography homework tonight chaps. Let’s spoof for it! Loser has to do it for old Wiggins!”

  3. Brilliant Mickey. History is a magnificent thing. And history told via stories (rather than the sanitised written version) is truly magnificent. Sounds like the cricket club is alive with stories. Keep it alive.

  4. Thanks Dips. Of all sports I reckon cricket’s rhythms and often languid pace best lend themselves to story-telling. There’s often a natural narrative arc at play. I love a good footy yarn and a golf tale, but cricket stories are fantastic. That said, I’m sure the stories are a key attraction of Stawell for you!

  5. Let’s face it Mickey, cricket has so many gaps we have to fill them up with tall stories to make it even vaguely entertaining. I loved the car journeys part of your story. It was a real rite of passage.
    I can remember being about 14 and stopping following dad around cricket grounds in the A Grade, to commence my own “career” in the B Grade. Mum would say “whatever you do, don’t go taking a ride with that Malcolm Cooney”. Malcolm’s hotted up EH and “Rebel Without a Cause” persona was the dread of every mother and the envy of every boy.
    But when it is the only seat left in the convoy, what is a 14yo to do? Fishtailing down the gravel road to Honiton listening to Bert Bryant was the entry point to a life of (mis)adventures.
    My experience was that the kids who stayed and played local cricket became drunks and gamblers. The kids that went to college in Adelaide became druggies. Better the devil you know.

  6. Thanks Peter. The car ride to adult sport: many stories in this alone. I remember going to cricket as a sixteen year old and the older men talking about the Caulfield Cup and hearing how serious their conversation was. I was struck by the strangeness of the language and also by how invested- in many ways- they seemed to be.

    On the return trip there was much discussion of how the race had been won and lost. There was much to dissect! I didn’t find their talk especially alluring or repulsive!

    When living in Wudinna playing cricket at Elliston sometimes included an overnight trip on the Friday to Venus Bay and then a morning’s fishing before the game. From land-locked Kapunda and the Barossa this was educational too. My bowling and my fishing were equally unorthodox!

  7. Mark Duffett says

    Tony Clarke! As I may have mentioned before, I was just old enough to go to one of his (unlicensed, of course) events as a young teenager at Riverton in the early 80s.

    One memory of being a passenger in a pooled car to cricket in that part of the world around that time remains vivid for reasons that will become obvious. We whizzed at speed (on a gravel road, natch) through a flock of unusually dopey galahs. One unfortunate got trapped under the fine mesh grill serving as a sunshade on top of the Kingswood’s windscreen. Maybe we were running a bit late, because we didn’t stop, the blood gradually trickling the length of the glass for the remainder of the journey…

  8. Thanks Mark. Many casualties going to and from cricket.

    As we know it was a significantly less diverse world. Just about everyone I knew owned a second-hand Kingswood as their first car. There seemed to be dozens of white HQ Holden Kingswoods in town, and now it’s a rare event when I see one, anywhere. When my midlife crisis finally kicks in I might buy an EH Holden (much cheaper than a Porsche).

    And bloody hell, that Riverton oval is a huge ground.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    One of my many regrets is that I’ve never driven a column shift manual.

  10. Punxsu.... Pete says

    Sesquicentenary always reminds me of Christopher Guest’s masterpiece ‘Waiting for Guffman.’ Better film than ‘Spinal Tap’ and that’s no mean feat. Enjoyed reading about Kapunda’s 150th Mickey.

  11. 1976 Datsun ute. Carrying second hand fridges to the backblocks of Maclagan and Quninalow. It was called three-on-the tree as opposed to the newer cars which had four-on-the-floor.

  12. Swish- my wife’s car is one of those that can be driven as a manual or an auto, which seems a world away from the three-on-the-tree. My HR Holden had a Powerglide two-speed auto which while impressive was no Hydraflyte. I guess these things are like blacksmithin’. Not much call anymore.

    Thanks PP. High praise indeed.

    JTH- the other car on my MLC (mid-life crisis) list is an old ute.

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Get rid of T20, we need to get back to 11 v 22 games of cricket!!

    Can relate to all of this Mickey. Country cricket, travelling with older players, the long neck in the brown paper bag. Good times.

    Well played. Go Kapunda CC.

  14. I absolutely loved the way you told this story, Mickey. And like many who commented above, I could relate to many parts of the tale.
    “with a soaking back like you were being born…” what a brilliant line.

    P.S. My first car was an EH Holden wagon, 3 on the tree. I once left the Bush Inn in Malvern with 10 people inside. It was almost 10 corpses when I tried to scoot across an intersection in Chapel St to beat the on-coming traffic – that old 186 engine just did not have the go in it. I can laugh about it now…

  15. Thanks Luke. The après- cricket activities always were part of the appeal if not the experience. One of the more ridiculous days was when, in a fifty-over a side game that started at noon, the match was over by about 1.30 after we were rolled for about thirty. Getting back to the Kimba pub around 8pm it was a relief to see our loved ones!

    Thanks Smokie. My first car, a HR, had a 186 in it too. Couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, as they say. Of all the old Holdens the EH has the best aesthetics, if not the best acceleration.

  16. Great stuff Mickey yep cricket clubs are fantastic places re stories and bullshi ( which is brilliant ) country clubs seem to some how go up a level

  17. Rightly or wrongly, cricket clubs teach us much! If you’ve not heard him speak Rulebook, Wayne Phillips is a great after-dinner presenter. He’s obviously done it many times as it is highly slick, but it’s funny and informative. Thanks.

  18. Mickey,
    I was at a Variety Club function prior to day 1 of the Aus v SA Test Match in Adelaide in Nov.
    Wayne Phillips was the host. His wit is as dry as the desert. he was excellent.
    Carl Rackemann less so unfortunately; he would only be at home in the front bar of a pub somewhere in the Darling Downs, talking about the lack of rain.
    A highlight was Greg “Fatcat” Ritchie, whom you mentioned in passing: sexist, homophobic, and politically incorrect – but very very funny.

  19. Thanks Smokie.

    My father-in-law was born in Wondai, Queensland. Among other notables from there are Carl Rackemann and Nathan Hauritz. As a generator of Test cricketers, it punches above its weight. I suspect my father-in-law may be the best of the three as a public speaker.

  20. ‘…but with cramping calves and eyes stinging with the smoke of a dozen Winny Reds you’d slide from the seat with a soaking back like you were being born.’

    I’m with Smokie, great line Mickey.

  21. Andrew Ingleton says


    your story resonates with me on a number of fronts-being from Stawell and growing up playing country cricket. I was lucky enough to play for the famous Stawell Police Youth Club B Grade team where my father and one of his mates sought to develop a bunch of young kids, playing teams like Navarre on the mats where the chirping on field was drowned out by the cicadas off field. We got to play the Ararat Prison II and the Aradale Mental Hospital II too- always home games for them and away games for us. Thanks for evoking those memories. See you at the Gift one year.


    Andrew Ingleton

  22. Thanks JD. Those car rides were almost as significant as the cricket itself.

    Andrew- the away fixtures you mention would’ve been memorable. Rich learning there, for all. Love to get to Stawell one year! Thanks.

  23. Mark Duffett says

    Riverton Oval – tell me about it, I don’t reckon I ever hit the ball more than half way to the boundary there. There always seemed to be huge piles of grass clippings left by the tractor that mowed the outfield as well, they certainly weren’t conducive to reaching the boundary either. One bloke there who could go all the way was the driver of the said Kingswood, Milton Kennewell – you may well have played against him.

  24. Mark- I recall the oval’s massive pockets in which players, officials and the ball could get lost in a footy match.

    The ground’s huge dimensions didn’t help either side during the senior cricket fixture in which we made about thirty-five then knocked Riverton over for not a lot more, before somehow nearly snatching a second innings victory on the following Saturday.

    It was another match which witnessed another bowling demise with one of our chaps struggling through about a dozen ball over. Again, I was at mid-off. I reckon he gave it away soon after.

    Don’t remember Milton by name, but suspect you were right. Our early 80’s double premierships in the Senior Colts were in part due to the contributions of Jamie McKeough and Mark Marshall who played for Kapunda. I don’t think Riverton had a side then.

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