The 1933-34 Season
Mount Colah was first listed as a club in the HDCA in 1933, entering one C Grade team for the season. The team was formed by a group of friends and family members from the local area, who did extraordinarily well for their inaugural season. They placed second in C Grade, losing out to Hornsby by a margin of just 3 points.
Mount Colah players were represented in the top of all areas of the HDCA, snatching the crown in C Grade for the best batting average of the season and the highest total amount of runs. Jack Palmer was responsible for this feat, with the formidable average of 53.67 after hitting 966 runs. This run-aggregate set an association record that would remain in place until 1939-40. Another talented batsman on the team, Ted Beattie, also achieved a formidable batting average of 32.52.
|Season||Grade||Name||Total Runs||High Score||Average||Ranking in Association Grade|
|1933-34||C||J Palmer||966 R||150||53.67||1|
Overall, the team achieved five centuries in one season, three of which by Jack Palmer. Mount Colah truly hit the ground running with these match results, setting the stage for a club well-known for talented batsmen.
|Season||Grade||Name||Number of Runs||Against||Ranking in Association Grade|
|100 (not out)||Hills District||11|
Yet, we would be remiss not to mention Mount Colah’s terrific bowling, with Jack Palmer and W Bourke both ranking within the top ten C Grade bowlers.
Mount Colah Cricketers After 1933-34
Despite the success of Mount Colah Cricket Club’s first season, the club went “out of business” in 1934 after only one season of play (HDCA Annual Report 1934-35). This description is somewhat misleading, however, as Mount Colah was essentially lost in a re-branding effort, with most of its players re-entering the HDCA in 1934-35 as the newborn Asquith Cricket Club. The Asquith C Grade team of 1934-35 was referred to as “ex Mount Colah” in the association’s annual report, further indicating that this change was one of name rather than substance (HDCA Annual Report 1934-35).
At the core of this chameleon team remained the Beatties, a prominent family in the Hornsby area during the early twentieth century. We are already familiar with Ted Beattie, who was listed as E. (Edward) Beattie in association reports documenting his sterling season with Mount Colah. Ted Beattie was one of three brothers in the Beattie family, all of whom worked in the gardens at Sydney Adventist Hospital (then the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital). Their sister, Mary Elizabeth Beattie, was a resident at the same hospital when she passed in 1946. When visiting the San today, the brothers are commemorated with the Beattie Complex, which was so-named in recognition for their contribution to the hospital, Adventist church, and wider community.
For the Hornsby Advocate in 2005, Alf James described Andy Beattie as he was known in the world of local cricket.
He was a legend . . . introduced dozens of young men to the game, took the rough edges off them, gave them boxes of vegetables and Weet-Bix, and sent them home with a pile of Adventist magazines.
Alf James, Hornsby Advocate, May 26, 2005
This quote references the vegetables gathered from the San’s gardens, which Andy was particularly famed for managing. Below, the brothers are photographed in cricket whites on the lawns outside the hospital.
After the first Mount Colah season, the Beatties played under the banner of Asquith in the 1930s, before later forming the Fox Valley Cricket Club. The HK&HDCA commemorated Ted Beattie in their 1999-2000 Annual Report after hearing of his death. This commemoration describes the role he played with his brothers in forming the Mount Colah Cricket Club. It then goes on to discuss his legacy in local cricket in the decades thereafter.
Mr Ted Beattie who died in June at the age of 84 was a leading cricketer in the Association in the 1930’s and played the game for over 60 years.
In 1933 he and a few of his friends and family formed the first Mt Colah Cricket Club and has the use of a ground out near The Chase gates. In the following season they changed the name to Asquith CC. Ted played two seasons each in C, B and A Grades from 1933/34, scoring 618, 594, 481, 525, 527 and 451. In C Grade he made the then-record score of 180 not out and was Bill Alley’s regular opening partner for several years in the Telegraph Shield.
After the War he played regularly for the Fox Valley CC (formed by his brother Andy) and continued to represent them until the age of 75.
A better man never played the game.
Secretary A. Terry, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai & Hills District Cricket Association Annual Report 1999-2000
The “ground out near The Chase gates” is in reference to the Mount Colah Oval on Ku-ring-gai Chase Road, which was later transformed into a military base and airfield for WWII. The Bill Alley mentioned above is another HK&HDCA legend who started playing with the Brooklyn club in the 1930s and went on to play for NSW and tour India with a Commonwealth team, among many other achievements (Annual Report 2004-2005).
Ted Beattie features prominently in the below records from the HDCA. His match score of 180 (not out) set a HDCA record for C Grade.
Another fantastic player for Mount Colah was Jack Palmer. Among the founding members of the HDCA was one Jack Palmer, who had a son also named Jack Palmer. The former Palmer is described as “the head of the family which has supplied many well-known players to Asquith, Hornsby, Fox Valley and Mt Colah clubs” (Summer Saturdays, 37). The younger Jack Palmer was well-known as a leading all-rounder who played for several local clubs throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and therefore can be supposed to be the “J Palmer” of Mount Colah’s 1933-34 season fame (Summer Saturdays, 35).
After 1933-34, the younger Jack Palmer moved to a Hornsby B Grade team, and carved out a position for himself in the association centuries list alongside Ted Beattie.
|Season||Grade||Name||Number of Runs||Against||Ranking in
|1934-35||B||J Palmer (Hornsby)||140||Kenthurst||1|
|104 (not out)||Brooklyn||5|
|C||E Beattie (Asquith)||180 (not out)||18th Battalion||1|
|1935-36||A||J Palmer (Hornsby)||103||Wahroonga||4|
|1937-38||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||137||Hornsby||7|
|E Beattie (Asquith)||129||Wahroonga||8|
|1938-39||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||150||Thornleigh||3|
Jack Palmer’s batting credentials only became more impressive in the seasons that followed the first Mount Colah team. After winning best association C Grade batting average in 1933-34, he would go on to win best B Grade batting average for 1934-35 while playing for Hornsby. 1935-36 saw him as runner up for best A Grade batting average.
|Season||Grade||Name||Total Runs||Average||Ranking in
|1934-35||B||J Palmer (Hornsby)||758||47.37||1|
|C||E Beattie (Asquith)||594||39.6||1|
|1935-36||A||J Palmer (Hornsby)||533||33.3||2|
|B||E Beattie (Asquith)||481||25.3||6|
|1936-37||A||J Palmer (Hornsby)||39.9||3|
|B||E Beattie (Asquith)||35||2|
|1937-38||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||47.06||1|
|E Beattie (Asquith)||37.60||6|
|1938-39||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||653||46.6||3|
|E Beattie (Asquith)||451||37.5||4|
|1939-40||A||J Palmer (unknown)||572||47.6||5|
|1940-41||A||J Palmer (unknown)||279||31||4|
Jack Palmer’s excellence as an all-rounder was affirmed by his success in bowling. While 1935-36 was the first season since 1933-34 that he didn’t win best batting average for the association, he still managed to snag the title for highest ranked bowler. In 1936-37, he took two hat-tricks while playing Hornsby A Grade. He continued to achieve high averages until competitions were terminated in 1942.
|1934-35||B||J Palmer (Hornsby)||43||9.97||5|
|1935-36||A||J Palmer (Hornsby)||55||7.6||1|
|1936-37||A||J Palmer (Hornsby)||71||10.60||3|
|1937-38||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||47||15.8||6|
|1938-39||A||J Palmer (Asquith)||55||10.9||2|
|1939-40||A||J Palmer (unknown)||47||14.6||5|
|1940-41||A||J Palmer (unknown)||40||11.1||4|
Mount Colah Mini Reunion 1937-38
Three years after the initial Mount Colah team, the association saw a mini team reunion between Mount Colah’s two star-players. Ted Beattie moved up to A Grade in Asquith the same year that Jack Palmer moved across from Hornsby to Asquith, meaning that the pair were playing in the same team for the first time since 1933-34.
Both players achieved centuries during the 1937-38 season and were represented in the top ten batsmen of the association. Unsurprisingly, their batting partnership proved formidable to say the least. They were listed as the most successful partnership in the association for the season, achieving 181 runs against the Hills District in the second week of gameplay.
Women and Cricket in the 1930s
Women have always been an integral part of cricket in Mount Colah, although their role has often been undervalued in association reports and records. Throughout the 1930s, the HDCA addressed their annual reports to “Gentlemen,” firmly establishing who was considered their intended audience.
Nevertheless, the game of cricket was never played exclusively by men, and women’s cricket is by no means a twenty-first century innovation. On a local level, women in the Hornsby District were known to form all-ladies teams from the turn of the century onwards. Even within the purview of the HDCA, the association would occasionally host social matches where women would play informally against the all-male club teams.
These local competitions fit within a broader national and international movement towards increasing women’s participation in the sport during the 1930s. In the previous century, Victorian attitudes towards sportswomen perpetuated the claim that cricket would encourage unfeminine behaviour and endanger women’s ability to have/raise children. Australia’s early adoption of women’s political enfranchisement signalled a decline of these ideals at the turn of the century; a decline that was then exacerbated by the prominent role women played in WWI.
The Australian leg of the English Women’s Cricket tour in 1934-35 represents a popular case study for examining social attitudes towards women playing cricket at the time. Australia’s extensive media coverage of these games was overwhelmingly positive, even when tempered by the low expectations of male critics. In the photo below, entitled “One to the Fence,” an Australian batter named Ruby Monaghan is shown “crack[ing] it to the boundary” during one such test match against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground that season.
The HDCA has frequently noted the correlation between local registration numbers and the success of the Australia’s national cricket team. It would therefore stand to reason that the proliferation of photos like the one above, and positive national press coverage of the 1934-35 English Women’s Test, would be reflected at a local level by a renewed interest in women’s cricket.
In addition to playing the sport, women took on many other roles in local cricket culture throughout the 1930s and beyond. One of the most documented roles in the Hornsby District was in organising social events and arranging food for social matches. This work was sometimes acknowledged when the association expressed gratitude to the general “ladies” presiding over luncheons. Occasionally, the HDCA would name specific female relatives of members who contributed over the season. These thanks were given rather delightfully in the 1934-35 annual report, when the association expressed gratitude “to the ladies for afternoon tea – always welcome – charmingly served to thirsty souls.”
Within the context of an economic depression leaving a “fair proportion” of association members unemployed and suffering significant financial uncertainty, the generosity of women associated with local clubs giving their food, time, and energy to the community should not be understated (Annual Report 1931-32).
The 1930s was also when women of the community first took to scoring local matches. Records of this activity survive because of the HDCA’s documentation of scorers given awards for neatness, legibility, and comprehensiveness. Winners of these coveted awards were listed in the association’s annual reports, and their scorebooks put on display as models for other clubs. In 1935-36, the association recorded the success of introducing more women to scoring that season, stating:
The number of lady scorers is increasing and in all cases their books were models of neatness, Mrs. Beattie of Asquith, winning the B grade prize.
Secretary W.D Weeks, Hornsby District Cricket Association Annual Report 1935-36
The Mrs Beattie referred to in this extract is from the same family that formed the first Mount Colah team.
WWII and Local Cricket
In the months before the 1939-40 cricket season, Britain declared war on Germany. Below is an extract from the 1939-40 HDCA Annual Report, where Honorary Secretary WD Weeks looked to the future of the district. He goes on to list members of the association who enlisted that year in the war effort.
The outbreak of war soon after our last Annual Meeting has overshadowed all social and sporting activities and we were indeed fortunate to be able to complete our programme without any serious set-back.
The outlook for the future is dark and menacing but we will, with all other citizens do our utmost to keep this land in safety and to bring victory to our Empire and our Allies. Many of our players have already enlisted and many more will doubtless follow their example. To all of them we wish God-speed and a safe return to the country they love and which their valor will help to preserve.
The following members have enlisted and are now overseas or in camp: –
Captain J. Bates, life member and first Secretary of the Association, N. Hunt, E.G Burgess, E. Heather, H. Simmons, W. Hanley, J. Hurst, F. Ward, D. Harvey, N. Randall, S. Vousden, L. Walton, G. Hanley, H. Bird, H. Dean, W. Seaward, D. Sinclair, K. Streatfield, J. Cross, E. Thompson, A. Holm, T. Fuggles, E. Roughley, J. Potter, E. King, F. Johnson, P. Johnson, T. Johnson, A. Wall, A. Creed, N. Sheppardson, G. Bates, G. Sedger, D. Munro.
Secretary W.D. Weeks, Hornsby District Cricket Association Annual Report 1939-40
Local cricket changed in the years that followed. Wartime conditions in Australia meant the association could not justify buying trophies for competitions, and petrol restrictions impeded transport across the district for games or association meetings. The ground at Mount Colah (on Ku-ring-gai Chase Rd) was commandeered as a landing strip for the war effort, and never returned to its use for cricket.
The most felt impact of the war, however, was the service of local men and women in the Australian forces. The 1939-40 season saw five teams withdraw before the season commenced due to military duties. In the years that followed, clubs struggled to field full teams due to their members embarking on compulsory training or enlisting.
The HDCA remained committed to providing local cricket for the community in this period, “so long as this is in conformity with Government plans for a one-hundred per cent national effort” (Annual Report 1940-41).
Despite this commitment, enlistment rates across the association soon made local club cricket unsustainable, and the association stopped running competitions in 1942-43. All HDCA activity came to a halt until the war ended in 1945, with no formal cricket being played locally in the intervening years. When cricket returned, it was to be played by a community that had suffered the many sacrifices and devastating loss of life incurred by WWII.