The Start of Cricket in the Area
Mount Colah was originally inhabited by people from Dharug and Kuring-gai speaking groups. Cricket was introduced to the local area with the establishment of a permanent settlement, after private logging in the Hornsby-Waitara area brought workers in the 1820s. There are records in papers of the time of matches being played between Pennant Hills and Castle Hill as early as the 1850s.
Mount Colah was never specifically mentioned in reference to cricket in the nineteenth century, as the stretch of land between Hornsby and Berowra was known only by the parish name of South Colah. Oliver Osborn formed the South Colah club in the 1850s, although including mostly players from Hornsby. A South Colah team was described in an exciting game against Peat’s Ferry in 1878, which was recorded as having “over 200 onlookers present” (Cumberland Mercury, 1878).
The introduction of Mount Colah railway station in 1887, named Colah Station at the time, brought more people to the area, and bolstered local cricket clubs. Cricket became a Saturday staple through the 1890s. The first All-Ladies Match for the area was recorded in 1900 at Hornsby.
Mount Colah Oval was the earliest cricket ground in Mount Colah, converted from an orchard. However, it was lost forever to local sport on the onset of WWII when it was converted to a military base and airfield. This airfield is clearly evident in the above aerial photograph taken around 1943, presenting as a large L-shaped space in the bottom-centre.
The Hornsby District Cricket Association
The Hornsby District Cricket Association (HDCA) formed in 1926 at the Hornsby Masonic Hall. The founding of this association represents a watershed moment for cricket in the area, introducing a centralised body to organise competitions between each region’s registered clubs and teams. While local cricket had previously been characterised by informal matches on poorly kept grounds, the new body could represent the district with local councils and organise more formal and systematic registration processes.
Club cricket at this time included only a senior competition, with grades other than A being introduced over the first few years of the HDCA. Matches commenced at 2.15pm on a Saturday afternoon. One U14 competition was trialed in 1937-38, but junior cricket would not be systematically integrated into the association for many years. Local children were instead encouraged to play in their own primary school teams or in the lower grades.
While there exist records of a Mount Colah club as early as the 1925-26 season, there was no formalised club entered into the HDCA for another four years. However, this was not to say Mount Colah as an area did not have its representatives playing in other clubs in the association. The history of Mount Colah locals enjoying cricket precedes the MCCC, and this tradition laid the foundation for the club’s eventual formation in 1933.