The history of the BOPCA Williams Cup

Sports correspondent & historian
with Sideline Sid

A trophy that will sit on the sideline of the Bay Oval on Easter Sunday, when the BOPCA Williams Cup final is played out on New Zealand's premier cricket ground, showcases local cricket history stretching back over nine decades.

Reigning Williams Cup titleholders Otumoetai Cadets will go into battle with the Greerton CC to decide who will hold aloft the big Bay of Plenty Cricket prize in triumph at the end of the days play.

The Williams Cup dates back to the formation of the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association in 1932, and has been contested every year since, except during WW2.

Club names on the Williams Cup reflect the makeup of the Bay of Plenty ninety odd years ago. The first name engraved on the time-honoured trophy recognises the victory of the (Rotorua) City Cricket Club in the 1932-33 season.

During 1932, Tauranga was just a sleepy fishing village with Rotorua nearly double the Tauranga population.

It took six decades before Western Bay of Plenty cricket teams dominated the Williams Cup competition.

The early years leading to WW2 were dominated by the Ngongotaha CC and the Te Puke CC.

It is interesting to note that in the early 1930s, Te Puke was aligned with Eastern Bay of Plenty Cricket, rather than the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui game.

The 1950s and 1960s belonged to the Rotorua clubs, before the trophy resided in the Taupo region during the late 60s and early 70s.

The challenge trophy format appears to have kept the Williams Cup prize in Taupo for a decade, with a closed shop approach to outside challenges.

Greerton broke the grip of the teams from the Sulphur City and Taupo with back to back titles in 1984 and 1985.

Te Puke carried on from the start of the Western Bay domination, with Mount Maunganui winning their first Williams Cup crown in 1988.

The advent of the Baywide premier competition saw the Williams Cup become the big prize in Bay of Plenty Club cricket.

Otumoetai Cadets arrived as a Baywide heavyweight when they won the Williams Cup prize for the first time in 1985, and held on to the time-honoured silverware for five successive seasons. Tauranga Boys’ College had Williams Cup success in 2009.

Cadets had to dig deep to finally emerge in the number one qualifying position, after sitting down the standings with a solitary win at the halfway stage of the title race.

The Tauranga Domain based side then reeled off four consecutive victories over Te Puke, Greerton, Lake Taupo and Geyser City to take the top spot.

By contrast, Greerton were in the top echelon all the way, only dropping down to second position when humbled by Papamoa in the final qualifying round.

There is one certainty in the weekend final. That is the Western Bay of Plenty Williams Cup domination will continue for another twelve months. You have to go back to 2007, when Rotorua Central won the trophy, to find the last victory from outside the Western Bay of Plenty region. 





Leave a Comment