Rolling with the times
WHEN it comes to Lismore cricket, few people have seen more or played more than Harold Crozier, who also did his share of umpiring after finally hanging up the bat and gloves.
And among that cavalcade of players, seasons, games, premierships, runs, wickets and controversies for his beloved club Easties, ‘Cro’ has been in contact with every Lismore turf wicket curator since World War II.
This week he came into The Northern Star office with a list, which constituted a basic history of who has prepared the turf wickets in the city for 70 years – and how they have gone about it.
Crozier has also played his part, planting grass on the turf wickets since the days of Neville Clark, the council-employed curator from 1976 to 1984.
The curator from 1942 to 1967 was Eric Preston, who was followed by Keith Packham in 1967 and Alec McDonald for a short time before Clark’s eight-year stint.
Kevin Phillips did the job from 1984 to 2004, Les Cherry from 2004 to 2006 and then the present curator, Craig Goldsmith, who has held the position for four years.
Crozier has ascertained that before 1940 the curator was a Mr Parmenter and in the early years of the war it was a Mr Leese, but he hasn’t been able to find out if they were council employees, volunteers or were paid by the cricket association.
Oakes Oval was the only turf wicket until Nielson Park at East Lismore and Riverview Park at South Lismore in the 1950s. What are now Blair Oval and Heaps Oval followed in the 1960s and 1970s, then Richards Oval a little later.
Riverview Park no longer has a turf wicket. In the 1990s it was converted into a facility for athletics and rugby league.
What is now Crozier Field was originally a cricket ground with a concrete pitch. It was turned into another turf in 1994 before being converted into a football field, which opened in 2002.
Crozier said that during the time of Alec McDonald all cricket clubs helped plant grass on the turf wickets to prepare them after a season of winter sport.
“They were usually just bare dirt until Christmas,”he said.
Crozier said the original three-ton roller used in the 1940s – with a number of modifications – was still in use at East Lismore, while a newer model was used for the turf wickets in and around Oakes Oval.
“I remember old Eric Preston having to drive the original ‘Freddie Flintstone’ roller from Oakes Oval out to Nielson Park and over to Riverview Park,” he said.
“It often held up the traffic. I remember him getting off for the hill in Dalley Street because with the extra weight it wouldn’t make itup otherwise. He would walk alongside steering it.”