History of Cricket in Newfoundland Part 1 1847-1900
Published in the Canadian Cricketer, volume 7 no 2 pp12-13, March 1979
Compiled By Frank W. Graham, Curator and Honourary Secretary Newfoundland Sports Hall of Fame and Newfoundland Sports Archives
First reference to the game of Cricket played locally appears in the St. Times of August I7, 1847. Cn the day previous a game was played on the Parade ground between the officers of H.M.S. Vesuvius (a visiting man o’war). ln l85l there is further reference to a cricket match played between ‘the Gentlemen of St. John’s’ and the officers of a visiting warship H .M.S. Alarm.
ln the St. John’s Times issue of August 30, 1854 there is reference to a St. John’s Cricket Club and a Garrison Cricket Club. There is also mention of the grounds of Government House serving as a playing pitch for those contests between the two clubs.
In 1859 the local Cricket club competed against the officers of H .M .S. Jasper and H .M. S. A|arm and H.M.S . Tartar.
Seemingly that same year the game had gained in popularity for we find there is mention of two local Cricket clubs, one the St. John’s Amateurs, the other a team calling themselves the Terra Novas. By 1868 all games of Cricket were being played on the Parade grounds near Fort Townshend (the present site of the Central Fire Station and the Police barracks).
ln 1875 the newspapers of that day report that Cricket was being played in other towns in Newfoundland and notably Hr Grace, Carbonear, and Brîgus (all those communities are in Conception Bay).
By l879 the game of Cricket had apparently ‘caught on’ locally for we find that the St. John’s Cricket Association has come into being. The league then consisted of four teams: Amateurs, Shamrocks, Terra Nova, ond Metropolitans.
In 1882 it would seem that the league began to expand. The Mechanics Society entered a team. That same year the playing pitch was readied at Pleasantville by the side of Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s. A hostelry was buiit there and a cycling oval. The game of Cricket was played within the area circumscribed by a bicycling racing track.
ln l883 a team from the legal profession (local) played the local clergy at Pleasantville. In 1883, as well, the local societies entered teams in the Cricket league; two such mentioned are the Benevo|ent Irish Society and the Star of the Sea Association.
1884 saw a team named the Shamrocks carry off the Cricket championship. That same year a team representing St. John’s journeyed to Conception Boy there to ploy o series of games with a Harbour Grace eleven.
In 1884 there appears the first reference to Juvenile Cricket clubs being formed. Those clubs were known as the White Rose, the Red Rose and the Black Diamond.
On August 5, 1885 the Terra Nova Cricket played a match with H.M.S . Tenedos. The file For this year teems with clippings from newspapers as well as notes.
1886 saw games played in intertown series with with Brigus, Carbonear, and Harbour Grace. At St. John’s a game was played between the Married and Single men.
In 1887 there is the first mention of football (soccer). It would in time challenge Cricket as the most popular pastime.
In l887 as well there a record of many games of Cricket being played at the pitch at Pleasantville. A special game was played on May 24 of that year to mark the celebration of the Queen’s birthday.
1888 found frequent reference to intertown games involvïng St. John’s and the Conception Boy towns of Brigus, Harbour Grace, and Carbonear.
In 1890 there is reference to a game of cricket played at Heart‘s Content. Presumably it would be a match between those who were involved with the Atlantic Cable company.
l893 and 1894. lt would appear that the three local colleges formed an intercollegiate league in 1893. St. Bonaventure’s college as well as the Methodist College and Bishop Feild Co||ege would be the participants.
1896 saw Water Street mercantile firms now entering teams in the City Cricket league.
In i897 there is a record of a game played between the St.John‘s Tennis Club and H.M.S. Cordelia. Many of those who were associated with the game of tennis were also cricketers of note.
Cricket was very popular in the three City Colleges. Many pictures are on file showing championship college teams.
In 1900 it would appear that cricket was at its peak locally. Our files are simply bulging with rosters of cricketers, match scores etc.
In the Evening Herald of February 17 1900 there is an item dealing with the likelyhood of a Halifax Cricket team Zingarees playting here. they did subsequently turn up at St. John’s. They played and defeated a City team by a score of 48 to 36.
By 1900 soccer seems to be trying to crowd cricket from the picture. However despite that observation there are many reports of cricket matches played.