16 January 2023

Bradman, Hogan and the rebirth of Gundagai Cricket’s golden cup

| Michael Hargreaves
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Cup and Bradman

The pure gold Hogan Cup and Don Bradman in 1932. Photos: GDCA and NSW State Library.

Do you know that Gundagai is home to the state’s oldest country cricket competition and has played host to some of the nation’s greatest players?

At 163 years of age, the Gundagai District Cricket Association is 22 years older than the Ashes and remains fiercely competitive.

Such was the region’s cricketing renown, that the best batsman in the world in 1904, Victor Trumper, was hosted for a week in the town.

The great took up the bat for Gobarralong against a firey Gundagai attack and managed just 20 runs before his leg stump cartwheeled out of the ground.

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According to local lore, in the same year the Hogan Cup was formed in 1932, Don Bradman graced Stan Crowe Oval only to be bowled for a duck.

But is it true? The greatest batsman there ever was, clean bowled in Gundagai?

Sadly, the duck was a myth, but like most great local yarns, it contains a grain of truth.

The Don did indeed take the crease in Gundagai, however, he notched a much more respectable 88 runs before Jack Smith sent his bails flying.

The Hogan Cup on Stan Crowe Oval. Photo: Supplied.

The Hogan Cup itself was established in 1932 following a fiery AGM that ended with the GDCA board sacked and larger-than-life character Arthur Hogan taking charge of a new ‘residential’ cricket league.

The bombastic Hogan had emerged as a leading local figure after he settled in the shire upon returning from the Boer War.

In addition to roles as shire councillor, hospital director and trustee of commons, he ran pubs, owned champion racehorses and loved his sport.

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His legend ventured into immortality in 1932 when he donated the pure gold cup to local cricket for its new competition aimed at fostering community spirit.

The founding clubs in 1932 were Muttama, Mundarlo, Coolac, Tumblong and two sides each from Nangus and Gundagai.

The rivalry was fierce, the crowds were huge and the winners were seriously good cricketers.

Jack Smith, would go far and wide representing the strength of the competition, scoring runs freely in inter-town challenges and building on his reputation as the ‘man who bowled Bradman’.

Ninety-one years later the tournament still bares Arthur Hogan’s name and is the oldest continually running country cricket competition in NSW.

The golden trophy remains one of the region’s most prized antiques and – just like the Ashes – a replica of the trophy is given to the winners while the original remains safely preserved.

Grand stories are retold of the quality of the first few decades of the Hogan Cup, “representing supremacy in the realm of cricket on the ‘Bidgee banks’”.

But over the decades, the Hogan Cup, like many regional competitions and the towns that birthed them, has struggled.

In the 2010s, the town that not too long ago boasted six sides in its own league was whittled down to just two – Family and Lotts – forced to play the Tumut teams in their 40 overs Elders Cup.

To honour the tradition, Family and Lotts continued to battle it out one-on-one for the Hogan.


Michael Murphy was instrumental in revitalising the Hogan Cup. Photo: Supplied.

Then in 2020 GDCA secretary Michael Murphy, a great-grandson of Arthur Hogan, had an idea aimed at getting the town to fall back in love with cricket.

Hatching a plan that his grandsire would’ve been proud of, Murphy felt that innovation was the key to continuing the tradition.

A move to the 20-over game had been discussed for years but traditionalists maintained that long-form cricket was the only ‘proper’ cricket.

He put it to the board that the Hogan Cup must evolve to be a “reflection of the current period and the young people” and adapt to better fit with busy nine-to-five lifestyles.

In the spirit of the fiery AGM held 90 years ago, the GDCA resolved to reformat the competition and in 2021 it became a T20 to entice locals back.

Invitations were sent out and Family and Lotts were joined by Group 9 giants the Gundagai Tigers and the Scorpions, led by John Smith, a grandson of the legendary Jack Smith.

Crowds grabbed a pizza, a spot on the grass under the lights and gazed at the same turf pitch that saw Bradman chalk up 88 before losing his bails.

Punters witnessed the gamble pay off as the efforts of Murphy, president Tim Ryan, vice president Craig Hargreaves and treasurer Craig Ferguson were rewarded.

The state’s oldest country cricket competition has a second lease on life and continues with vigour in 2023.

This year’s tournament welcomes back Family, Lotts and the Tigers, as well the newest cricket club in the GDCA (and NSW), Tarcutta’s World Series West Indies-inspired coral pink Murrumbidgee Mankadders.

The first round of fixtures last Sunday saw wins to Family and the Tigers and action will continue this Sunday from 10:30 am at Owen Vincent Oval.

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