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At the New Zealand Cricket Annual General Meeting held on the 11 November 1931 the affiliation of Bay of Plenty Cricket was confirmed. The 1930/31 Season Annual Report noted that the “number of affiliated associations increased to 23 with the addition of Bay of Plenty”. 

One of the best players to represent Bay of Plenty in the thirties was Lester Spring who arrived in Whakatane during July 1938. Spring was in the top draw of first class players in the country, representing Manawatu from 1926 to 1931, during which time Manawatu participated in 13 Hawke Cup games. 

On the 26 February 1930 in a Hawke Cup game between Manawatu and Southland Lester smashed a 106 runs – and set a 10th wicket partnership record with Maurice O’Keefe who contributed 62 runs. 

Lester played cricket in Canterbury for a two seasons before transferring to Auckland in December 1933. Just before departure from Christchurch he was selected for Christchurch Town to play Country, which was essentially a Canterbury trial. In the town side Lester played alongside one of the real legends of New Zealand cricket in Walter Hadlee. 

On 14 December 1936 Lester was selected in the all-conquering Auckland Plunkett Shield team. After playing Canterbury at Christmas the a media report said “Spring has a excellent chance to represent New Zealand to tour England in March 1937 under TC Lowry, in company with certainties HG Vivian, PE Whitlaw, W Cowie, M Wallace and WN Carson all of Auckland”. 

A shoulder blade injury resulted in the talented batsman remaining at home. In July 1938 Lester arrived in Whakatane after purchasing a local accountancy firm. Joining the Whakatane United Cricket Club (which is still alive and well) the new recruit went on a batting and bowling blitz. During the 1938/39 season he smashed 706 runs with a highest score of 148 (including 9 sixes) and took 67 wickets with the ball. 

Bay of Plenty representation came quickly, with selection to captain the Bay against Waikato in a Hawke Cup challenge on the 31st December 1938. Captaincy again followed against Sir Julian Cahn’s English touring side in Rotorua. 

Another Hawke Cup game came in March 1940 when the Bay were well beaten by Manawatu. At nearly forty years of age Lester again took the skippers role against Waikato on 1st January 1 1948 in a Hawke Cup challenge, and played against the Fijian tourists the same season – scoring 48 runs out of the Bay of Plenty total of 148. 

It is worth noting that in the 1947/48 season when Whakatane United won the Williams Cup, they were so strong in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, that they had to withdraw from the local competition, and played against teams in Gisborne and the Waikato. The team, which was captained by NE Rigden, played 18 games in which they compiled some 4228 runs with 2887 runs scored against them. 

While club cricket was alive and well in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930’s – Research for this publication suggests that there were two Bay of Plenty Association, with the Bay of Plenty Sub-Association based in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, affiliating to New Zealand Cricket in the 1930/31 season. 

In the same period of the early 1930s, representative cricket was also played by teams from the Rotorua and Tauranga Cricket Associations. 

In February 1931 the following players were selected for a Bay of Plenty team to play their Rotorua counter parts. Lee, Kenny, Young (Matata) Menzies, HA Wardlaw, Wells (Waimana) GC Peebles, JD Wardlaw, Coney, Spoors (Whakatane) Dare (Te Puke) Emergencies: Darvell, FJ Burt. 

In the 1931/32 season a match between Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, appeared to become a selection trial for a Bay of Plenty team from the two regions, to challenge South Auckland for the Hawke Cup.

The Bay of Plenty Times reported ideal weather prevailed for the representative cricket match between Bay of Plenty and Rotorua at Matata. Bay of Plenty winning comfortably by six wickets. The game gave the selectors (Messrs Moffat, Wells and Reed) the opportunity of selecting the team to play South Auckland for the Hawke Cup.

The Bay of Plenty team selected to play South Auckland in the Hawke Cup challenge was: Lenthan, Reed, J Hinton, Beale, Sutherland (Rotorua) Wells, Menzies (Waimana) Yorke, Lyon (Whakatane) Spoors (Te Teko) D Lees (Matata) G Peebles (Whakatane) Twelfth man Hantson (Rotorua)

Records show that the Hawke Cup match played in March 1932 resulted in South Auckland easily retaining the trophy, by an innings and 103 runs. 

Research failed to find any Bay of Plenty matches during the 1932/33 season however in February 1933 Rotorua hosted Tauranga at the Government Gardens. Rotorua posted a first innings win, with home team batsmen Beale reaching three figures. 

The following season Bay of Plenty met Rotorua at Matata during November 1933. The team which was appears to be selected from just the Eastern Bay of Plenty, provides further evidence that the early power base of Bay of Plenty Cricket, was in the Eastern Bay. 

Bay of Plenty: D Lees captain (Matata) J Jessup, J Hariman, H Hawkins (Opotiki) Simmons, G Peebles, Coney (Whakatane) Walls, Menges (Waimana) G Parkes (Whakatane) was the twelve man. 

Later in the season Tauranga hosted Rotorua in their annual encounter. Played during March 1934. The BOP Times reported “that a cricket match was played at the weekend between Rotorua and Tauranga elevens and was won by Rotorua by 219 to 104”.”The wicket was fast with. Rotorua having a strong batting side, and these players had recently defeated the Bay of Plenty representatives”. 

Players in the match were listed as follows:

Rotorua: Harding, Beale, Hinton, Hiigins, Lunn, Alexander, Marshall, Gresham, Godsalve, Paull, Neeson.

Tauranga: Jordan, Bradmore, Douglas, Cairns, Sinclair, Stephens, Randell, Johnston, Curtis, Stevens, Morris. 

Cricket was alive and well in the 1934/35 season. A BOP Times report on the 16th October 1934 announced the Tauranga representative team to play at Labour Weekend. Tauranga A were scheduled to play Rotorua in Rotorua - with the B representatives to meet Northern Bay of Plenty Association that appears to be based around the Te Puna and Omokoroa region. 

Later in the month a report of the Bay of Plenty Minor Cricket Associations confirmed that the sport was indeed on the up in the Bay of Plenty region. 

“At the annual meeting of the Bay of Plenty Minor Cricket Association at Rotorua, discussion took place upon the Attrill Cup competition, it being suggested that that the trophy should be a sub-association trophy instead of being competed practically as a club issue”.” Finally it as decided that associations to be grouped north and south for the competition, provided that the donor of the trophy was agreeable”. 

“Complications arising from similarity of names of the bodies known as the Bay of Plenty Sub-Associations, and the Bay of Plenty Minor Associations were also discussed. A suggestion by Mr McGill that the Bay of Plenty Sub-Association should change its title in order to stop further confusion”. 

“It was also further suggested that if this course was agreed to the different sub-associations be grounded as follows. Tauranga and Te Puke, Whakatane and Matata, Rotorua, Opotiki and Waimana, with the last named being included with Whakatane and Matata if deemed desirable”. “As all bodies were not represented at the meeting no definite action was taken”. 

“It was also decided that this year the association should participate in the Hawke Cup fixtures”. “ Application is also to be made to the New Zealand Cricket Council that the Bay of Plenty Minor Associations be allocated a match against the English team to tour the Dominion in 1935-36, the match to be played in Rotorua”. (The match was played by a Bay team known as Bay of Plenty Combined teams) 

Officers elected at the meeting (of the Bay of Plenty Minor Associations) were:

Patron Mr Attrill; President Mr HL Musgrave; Vice-Presidents being the presidents of the affiliated sub-associations: Secretary and Treasurer MR LH Gresham (Rotorua) Auditor Mr DD Lunn; Executive Messers HE Musgrave, EG Sutherland, A McGill, JJ Lewis and LH Gresham.

(The writer believes that the actions at this meeting led to the start of the present Bay of Plenty Cricket Association. The reports at the above meeting, confirms his belief that the Bay of Plenty Association which affiliated to the New Zealand Cricket Council in the 1930/31 season, was the Bay of Plenty Sub-Associations based in the Eastern Bay of Plenty) 

While no Bay of Plenty representative matches appear in the records, there was plenty of minor association action in preparation for the visit of the MCC the following season. 

The Rotorua and Tauranga A and B representative teams met in March 1935, with several Attrill Cup games involving Rotorua, Opotiki and Tauranga taking place 

The BOP Times gave the following report on the Attrill Cup match played between Rotorua and Tauranga County. “Exceptional public interest was displayed in the match for the Attrill Cup, between Rotorua and Tauranga County teams which was played on the local domain and provided an even contest”. 

“The visitors batting was very strong, McGill 61 Harding 50 Hinton 24 and Lunn 31 being the chief contributors”. “For the home side the veteran batsman Mason, produced some of his old form, compiling a chanceless half-century undefeated. Steele 41, Capon 13, Johnston 21 and Cairns 17 were the other chief scorers”. For the record Rotorua 248 defeated Tauranga 172. 

Attrill Cup Teams

Rotorua: Lunn, McGill, Hinton, Spedding, Harding, Higgins, Beale, Sutherland, Shepherd, Marshall.

Tauranga: Stephens, Capon, Steele, Montgomery, L Randell, Mason, S Randell, Johnston, Budd, Cairns, Parkinson. 

With the pending visit of the MCC in the 1935/36 season, there was flurry of sub-association representative cricket (apparently) as part of the selection process, to select the BOP team to meet the tourists. 

The BOP Times reported during October 1935, that the most successful meeting for some years of the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association, was held at Matata over the weekend. Preliminary arrangements for the Hawke Cup match against South Auckland at Hamilton on the 6th, 7th and 9th December was finalised, and the fixture against the MCC team at Rotorua in February. 

The BOP Cricket Association Annual Meeting appointed the following selectors for the 1935/36 season Messers Steele (Tauranga) E Sutherland and A McGill (Rotorua) 

After the undoubted highlight of the MCC visit (see MCC visit the Bay of Plenty)  there appears to be little mention of Bay of Plenty representative cricket in the 1936/37 season. 

One fact that did become apparent during the season was the two bodies that were in operation to run cricket in the Tauranga region. During October 1936 the first meeting of the season of the Tauranga County Cricket Association was held where the Pukehina CC was admitted as a full member. 

It was also decided three delegates should attend the Annual Meeting of the Northern Tauranga Cricket Association. The Northern Tauranga AGM was held in Omokoroa with Katikati, Whakamara, Pahoia and Te Puna entering the season competition. It was noted that Omokoroa would not be entering a team. There was general discussion on closer relations with the Tauranga County Association. 

In February 1937 a Tauranga representative team travelled to Opotiki to challenge for the Attrill Cup. It was stated that Opotiki at home on a concrete wicket would be extremely hard to defeat, especially as they had held the trophy for a long period. 

Tauranga club Albion played defended the Williams Cup twice during the season defeating Rotorua City in December 1936 before repelling another challenge on the 10th April 1937. Williams Cup records show that Albion held the Baywide challenge trophy for three successive season from 1935/36. 

Representative cricket was alive and well in the Bay of Plenty during the 1937/38 season. There was plenty of action in the Sub-Associations. An example is provided by the Tauranga representative program with the first eleven playing Waihi, Matamata, Rotorua and Opotiki. 

The match in early 1938 was described as a nominal trial for selection of a Bay of Plenty team. The match was easily won by Rotorua, which reversed the result of the previous two games between the sides. 

The BOP Times reported that Rotorua stayed at the crease until 3.30pm to compile 280 runs with Tauranga dismissed for 140. Rotorua’s star player was Beale who hit a chanceless 121 and Bayley who scored 74. Tauranga top man was W Renshaw with 38. 

Rotorua v Tauranga Teams

Rotorua: N Hinton, N Bayley, G Beale, B Harding, C Simmers, E Andrews, D Ewert, MP Kerr, J Hinton, L Brooker, J Coogan.

Tauranga: J O’Connor, A Wilkinson, E Craig, B Budd, L Randell, W Renshaw, E Capon, D Sinclair, W Dawkins, R Moorhead. 

In April 1938 the BOP Times reported that a trial match was to be held over the weekend to pick a team to represent the Bay of Plenty in a Hawke Cup elimination match. Players will be present from Rotorua, Opotiki, Rangataiki and Tauranga. 

The elimination contest took place in Rotorua during April 1938 when Bay of Plenty played Waiapu, in the Hawke Cup elimination game. Bay of Plenty coasted to an easy victory. After posting 249/4 the visitors were rolled for 95 and 90 in their two turns at bat. 

In December 1938 Bay of Plenty played Waikato in a Hawke Cup Direct Challenge. The home side made a cracking start reaching 263 all out. Lester Spring was the best of the Bay bowlers taking four wickets. 

In what was perhaps the lowest ebb in Bay of Plenty representative cricket, the challengers were rolled for 30 runs in their first turn at bat and mustered just 22 in their second innings. 

In his book “The Whakatane Beacon and Leicester Spring” Leicester Spring said “I captained Bay of Plenty verses Sir Julian Cahn’s English touring side at Rotorua in March 1939. Bay of Plenty made 233 runs and the tourists posted 126 for eight wickets”. “ I made 23 runs and took two wickets for 23 runs”. 

During 1938 the Tauranga region held what are now considered the two most prestigious trophies in Bay of Plenty cricket with Albion defending the Williams Cup and Tauranga annexing the Attrill Cup from Opotiki. It was recorded that the Eastern Bay side had held the symbol of Bay of Plenty Sub-Association cricket for seven years. 

The Williams Cup game was fought out by Tauranga holders Albion who played Albion from Rotorua. The newspaper report listed the sides as simply Tauranga verses Rotorua – with Tauranga Albion winning, when the Rotorua representatives couldn’t muster the required runs in their second innings. 

The BOP Times Attrill Cup report opening paragraph simply said  “At long last Tauranga have taken the Attrill Cup from Opotiki”. While there was a match report no scores accompanied the article. 

While there were no reports of Bay of Plenty games found in the research for 1938/39 season the Attrill Cup was alive and well. Holders Tauranga played three matches with the trophy moving to Rotorua after the third encounter.

On the 2nd February 1939 Tauranga repelled a challenge from Pukehina. The holders recorded 142 and 33/6 in their two innings with Pukehina restricted to 70 and 65/8. A week later it was the turn of Opotiki who had held the Cup for seven seasons prior to being relieved of the trophy by the Tauranga representatives the previous season. 

Opotiki made a good start being dismissed for 103 then restricting the home side to 83 all out. Both sides experienced second innings collapses with Opotiki rolled for just 27 - needing 48 to win, Tauranga just got there reaching the target with one wicket to spare. 

Three weeks later Rotorua challenged for the Bay of Plenty sub-association trophy. In a cliffhanger Rotorua posted modest totals of just 89 and 44 runs with Tauranga falling five runs short when they mustered 46 in their second turn at bat. 

There was no match report found of a return game between Rotorua and  Tauranga scheduled for early March 1939 

A Williams Cup game between Albion and Te Puke in March 1939 - appears to have resulted in Te Puke winning the challenge trophy for the first time. 

Just two Bay of Plenty representative game appeared to have been played during World War Two. During 1940 Bay of Plenty were outplayed by Manawatu in a Hawke Cup direct challenge. 

The match with Waikato on the 1st January 1941 was perhaps one of the lowest points in the annuals of Bay cricket. After Waikato posted 144 Bay of Plenty were dismissed for just 38 in the first innings, and fared little better in their second turn at bat mustering 64.

If you would like to read more on the history of Bay of Plenty Cricket in 2011 "Caught Wright Bowled Beard" by Barry Leabourn was published to celebrate 80 years of cricket in the Bay.  If you wish to purchase a copy please contact Bay of Plenty Cricket Office 07 575 9120 or email info@bopcricket.co.nz.  The cost is $30 per copy. 


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