Sports correspondent & historian
The first recorded cricket match was played in Nelson in March 1884 between the surveyors of the New Zealand Land Company and a Nelson side.
In those long ago times, runs were recorded as notches, as the earliest scorers in England made cuts to sticks to record the score.
Tall hats, cravats, trousers tight at the ankle were the fashion and at the end of the match both sides sat down to a gargantuan meal followed by numerous speeches.
Cricket in the Bay of Plenty began in Tauranga with the introduction of the game by the 12th Regiment, who were responsible for the establishment of the Military and Civil Cricket Club around 1866.
Over the years clubs, teams and players have come and gone to be consigned to history. However there is one constant in Bay of Plenty Cricket with the Te Puke Cricket Club having fielded teams for some 133 years without serious interruption.
Cricket was alive in well in Te Puke well before the turn of the twentieth century, with the first recorded match taking place in 1884, between a Te Puke selection and a Tauranga team.
In September 1887, the Te Puke Cricket Club was constituted with the president being Captain Evered and the first chairman George Lee. The first match against Tauranga was lost by an innings, with the new club’s first success came against Katikati at the Tauranga Domain. While the club played a number of matches each year it wasn’t until 1898 that Te Puke won their first match against a Tauranga team.
Today, the most sought after trophy in Baywide premier cricket is the Williams Cup that was first contested in the 1932/33 cricket season. The Te Puke Cricket Club has a long and successful record in the Williams Cup, first winning the time-honoured cricket prize in the 1938/39 season.
It is remarkable to think that the first occasion that Te Puke players raised the Williams Cup aloft in triumph, that the club had already celebrated their fiftieth jubilee.
Over the intervening years, the TePuke Cricket Club has set the bar in Williams Cup competition with 17 success with the most recent coming just four years ago.
A number of high profile players have turned out for the club over the last 133 years. Black Cap players in Andy Roberts, Lance and Chris Cairns, the Hart brothers of Mathew and Robbie along with Bruce Blair and Kane Williamson have played for the Te Puke CC – however the Te Puke club has always been about providing cricket opportunities for local players of all abilities.
Today the mantle of upholding the Te Puke tradition of excellence and fair play, belongs to a new group of mostly young players, proud to wear the Te Puke uniform on the field of cricket combat.
Tai Bridgman-Raison owns the Te Puke Cricket Club record of centuries with 16 tons, while current skipper Stephen Crossan takes no prisoners with his willow weapon. The new group of Te Puke youngsters are starting to make their mark, in earning selection in Bay of Plenty senior representative sides this season.
There is no better opportunity for Western Bay of Plenty cricket fans, to see the current group of Te Puke premier players on show, than this Saturday, February 8 when the Te Puke boys take on archrivals Mount Maunganui at Blake Park.