THE Mittagong Star newspaper published an article in 1960 titled Sport in the Berrima District in 1861.
It was an eye-witness account taken from an 1896 scrapbook that reads as follows:
"Berrima at this time might have been called the Federal City, as there was no other Court House in the district then and no other General Store worth naming. Cobb & Co ran the mail coach every day, and Berrima was one of the principal stopping places.
"Well, this is not sport, but I will tell you of a little fun that took place in the year 1861.
"There was a big muster in Berrima from all parts of the district, and at that time there was living in Berrima one John Liardet, formerly Clerk of the Court, but he had resigned that position and was keeping a General Store.
"He was a man of medium build, thin and wiry. Well, he issued a challenge to throw a cricket ball from foot to pitch, that is from where he puts his foot, to where the ball first strikes the ground. We all looked with amazement at him, for there were men there that you would almost think could throw him as far as he could throw a cricket ball. But he meant business, and one young man, as fine a build you could see in a day's walk, took him up on the wager, but I forget the amount now. I do not think there was a horse at that time in NSW that could throw this young man, and I may as well give his name - it is our now respected Coroner, A D Badgery Esq.
"Well the match came off and Badgery won, but not by much, for it astonished all hands to see the way the wiry little Liardet passed the ball through space. ADB won with 98 yards, Liardet being very close up.
"Afterwards, not to be done, Liardet threw out another challenge - he now offered to challenge anyone to a game of quoits and before he knew where he was R H Roberts, now MLC, took him up for a case of champagne - not a bottle but a case - and poor Jack Liardet was put down again, as Roberts beat him easily.
"Then the corks began to pop, and while the champagne was being drunk a cricket match was arranged for 11-a-side between Berrima and Mittagong.
"The match was played on the Market Square in Berrima and two of the men hit a ball from the eastern wicket to the bridge, scoring six for each hit. The men were Joe Cupitt and T Loseby.
The greatest good humour prevailed through the match, and the scores showed that Berrima won by five runs, but Mittagong was not satisfied with the scores as the scorer, although a splendid scholar, was too 'tight' to read his own writing."
The official result was later confirmed as Mittagong 156, Berrima 161.
FROM the 1870s, such fun and games became scarce as Berrima went into decline due to being by-passed by the railway.
However the existence of the cricket club was assured in the 1920s when the cement works opened and attracted a large work-force.
Southern Portland Cement (SPC) opened its works at New Berrima in 1929 and, being a community-minded company, re-invigorated sport in the area.
SPC fielded hockey and basketball teams in district competitions and supported a reserve-grade rugby league team at Berrima.
From the monthly SPC newsletter that commenced in 1959, we learn that social cricket games were played on Sundays and were so popular that no difficulty was experienced in filling a large bus when the team travelled away, with wives and children taken along.
Prior to about 1957, SPC employees played competition cricket on Saturdays with the Berrima Cricket Club that fielded first, second and third grade teams.
The club won the second grade district competition in the 1956 season. This is according to a member of that team, Ken Mott, who recently contacted the Historical Society regarding the photo (shown above) published earlier this year in Snapshot magazine with a request for help identifying the players. Ken identifies the photo as the club's 1956 finals.
Shortly afterwards the Berrima club became the SPC Cricket Club and in the 1959 first grade district finals it was eliminated by Moss Vale. However in 1960 it won at Bradman Oval, helped with a century by Keith Larsen.
Afterwards a few ales were consumed in Berrima at the Surveyor General Inn!
This article compiled by PHILIP MORTON is sourced from the archives of Berrima District Historical & Family History Society, Bowral Rd, Mittagong. Phone 4872 2169.
Email email@example.com, Web: berrimadistricthistoricalsociety.org.au