56 Since ’56 – The Crowd at Olympic Games

Ticket for athletics Melbourne Olympic Games

One of the mementos kept by Les to remember his day at the Melbourne Olympic Games.

The excitement and the roar of the crowd was the first thing that Les recalled as he told me about that day in 1956 when he watched the Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I was having an all too rare day with relations in a country town in the western district of Victoria and had been expecting a day of sharing photographs and family stories. I was not expecting to hear about a day at the Olympics.

When I asked Les about the day again a few months later he recounted the same scene – the feeling of being part of the crowd, rising out of their seats and giving full voice to a champion athlete, but he could not recall the details of the competition he saw.

I was hoping to hear Les talk about the feats of Betty Cuthbert who won a gold medal for Australia in the 200m sprint that day, or some anecdotes about what other athletes did, but it was the experience of being one of 100,000 people roaring with excitement which was the highlight of his day.  Dare I say it?  I was disappointed that he did not tell me what I thought would have been a more interesting story.

An article in today’s The Age made me rethink my response to Les’ account.  He would probably relate to the comments made by Greg Baum about the crowd last night at the London Olympics.  In Baum’s eyes the crowd was just as  important as the feats of Mohamad Farah and the Jamaican 4x100m relay team.  Baum said that last night he saw how “a crowd becomes a player, both in the sense of “actor” and “participant”.  “As at the greatest sporting events”, Baum remarked, “a trance was upon the stadium last night; no-one could bring themselves to leave, until security had to insist.” Continue reading

Top 10 Posts for 2011

two women playing cricket

We have had lots of fun playing family cricket on the nearby oval these holidays. Here I am wicket keeping while my sister-in-law is batting. Photo by Ian Woolward

Blogs and cricket have something important in common – statistics!  This week I’ve enjoyed spending lots of time with my family visiting from interstate and watching the exciting Boxing Day test match between India and Australia.  It was a great example of test cricket – four days of see-sawing between the teams until Australia finally won.   I tried to write a blog post while watching the cricket but the cricket was way too interesting for me to write anything worth posting.   Instead, I thought I would join the other bloggers out there and create a list of the posts on this blog that generated the most hits in 2011. Continue reading

Cricket in Sydney 1876

An old cricket bat, stumps and red cricket ball

Basic equipment for playing cricket – bat, stumps and ball

When fossicking in the archives I have at times come across  fascinating and totally irrelevant material.  It seems to be a shame not to share this, so I have created the ‘Lucky Dip’ category.  ‘Lucky Dip’ contains what I regard as ephemera but what may be central to the interests of others.

What better time than the start of the current Ashes encounter to reflect on the English tour of Australia when the first test match was played between Australia and England.  For international readers not familiar with the game I have provided a list of sites which give basic explanations of this sport at the end of this post.

Work Stops for Cricket in 1876

I am currently researching the history of teaching reading in Australia, so I was quite surprised to come across a reference to the England vs New South Wales cricket match that was held between 7th and 11th December 1876.

In 1876, the NSW Council of Education had to consider the weighty issue of allowing Council employees to attend the international cricket match.  This is what I read in the Council’s minute book:

Read the Chief Clerk’s memorandum requesting that the office may be closed at noon on the 7th, 8th, and 9th December.

The Council resolved that the office be closed at 12 noon on Saturday (9th), and that one half of the clerks have leave on Thursday from the same hour, and the remainder on Friday.

Minute Book No. 9, Council of Education, 4 Dec. 1876, p. 332.  Held at the New South Wales State Archives, NRS 2646.

This match predates the first test match between Australia and England which was held during the same English tour in 1877.  Clearly the game held an important place in Sydney at this time. Continue reading