Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vaughan Rapatahana’s NZ cricket poem

Recently I had a poem published in Enamel 3, a Wellington literary journal edited and produced by local poet Emma Barnes. This particular issue is the last of a short-lived but well-admired journal, and inside there was also a cricket-related poem by New Zealand poet Vaughan Rapatahana.
I asked Vaughan if I could include it on the Tingling Catch archive, and here it now is. Vaughan’s poem is not so much about cricket but has cricket forming the backdrop to a teenage experience and discovery of first love. It would very much fit into the ‘Social Members’ section of A Tingling Catch:


14 in ‘68

I   came   into   love

b   e   y   o   n   d

our white-picket fence,
those     diffident daffodils,
plastic raincoats’
close cling
spring squall.

b   a   c   k                    then
Bartlett bowled so speeeeeeeedy
it seamed
s     l       o     w        m     o     t     i     o     n
Subramanya slumped forward - vanquished
well-after his wicket was.

the Sun
obfuscated itself
behind surly cloud
all Aotearoa
in ignorant innocence.

your paua-shell eyes
shot me
as I lurked my way home
from college.

14 in ’68,

something                     b    e    y    o    n    d
schoolboy crush
crashed me
into the asperity

New Zealand
never seemed


Poem © Vaughan Rapatahana 2011

(From Enamel 3, 2011)

Vaughan Rapatahana is a Hong Kong-based New Zealand poet. He has recently published a collection of his poetry through Proverse Publishing and a second collection through Kilmog Press in Dunedin. Of his own cricket recollections of 1968, Vaughan writes: “I remember my mother ‘taking’ me out of school in 1968 (Aorere College, Papatoetoe, Manukau, Auckland, where [poet] David Eggleton was my classmate and mate per se, and Gary Troup was in same form) to see Dick Motz and Gary Bartlett bowling - Graham Dowling was there too as I recall. & Victor Pollard. Nawab of Pataudi was Captain. EAS Prasanna, Venkataraman Subramanya, Chandrakant Borde & Bishan Bedi were among those who played for India. Bartlett ran in from the boundary.”

(Note: The match mentioned is NZ v India, Test Match, 7-12 March 1968, Eden Park, Auckland. India won by 272 runs. Source: Cricket Archive.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bill O’Reilly’s 1946 NZ cricket poem

Recently I was doing key word searches on “cricket” and “poetry” in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue for a bibliography of New Zealand cricket fiction and poetry that I posted on this blog and have since published in a new edition of Michael O’Leary’s cricket novel Out of It (2012). Interestingly, I picked up a cricket reference in a book of “sporting rhymes” by worker poet Bill O’Reilly (1898-1959).
In 2010, Bill’s daughter, Pauline O’Reilly Leverton, published a wonderful biography of O’Reilly, Commo Bill: ‘People’s Poet’, that includes a large number of his poems as well as his life story in words and pictures.
O’Reilly was a committed member of the Communist Party of New Zealand that he joined in 1929. Best remembered for his work during the Great Depression when he was a leader of unemployed workers, O’Reilly was also involved in the Waterfront Lockout of ’51 when he championed his fellow waterside workers and stood loyal through tough times. By 1955, O’Reilly’s popularity with workers and their interests voted him in as Mayor of Thorndon, “the first Communist Mayor in New Zealand” (Bill's words); he also did charity work for blind children under the auspices of the popular "Mayor of Thorndon Blind Children's Appeal".
As a poet, he wrote dozens of verses, mainly Acrostics, and was interested in a wide variety of sports, including football, league, rugby, cricket, boxing, wrestling, racing and trotting. He also wrote pub poems and poems about places, verses for his family and friends, and wrote in response to political ideologues he disagreed with from his Marxist viewpoint. The pamphlet Sporting Rhymes (printed when he was a Thorndon Mayoral candidate to help raise funds for the blind children's appeal) includes one cricket poem.
The poem by O’Reilly, ‘King Cricket’, is of particular interest as it welcomes the Australian team to New Zealand in the 1945-46 season for their one-off Test played at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, on 29-30 March 1946.
This was a significant visit because it was the last time New Zealand would meet Australia in a Test match for some time. Walter Hadlee’s New Zealand team was humiliated inside two days of the 4-day match (all out for 42 and 54), despite Jack Cowie picking up his best Test figures for New Zealand of 6-40 in the Australian innings of 199-8 declared. In the future Australia would send a B-team and played only unofficial tests here until the early 1970s.
The 1946 Australian team was strong and included Keith Miller, the great all-rounder, and bowler Ray Lindwall who were making their Test debuts. Bill Brown, the opening batsman, captained it and the vice-captain was bowler Bill O’Reilly, the exact namesake of the poet.
O’Reilly’s poem is heartfelt and generous and indicates a time when friendship and camaraderie were at a high particularly following the end of the Second World War where Australians and New Zealanders fought side by side as ANZACs.
Here is O’Reilly’s poem for the Australian team:


King Cricket


(Written in welcome to the Australian Cricketers
     Capt. Brown, V-Capt. O’Reilly.)

Kindred from across the Tasman, wielders of the willow blade,
It’s a joy to give you greeting may your glories never fade.
Northwards far the wide-flung coastline of the land that you hold dear
Grieve not tho’ my bold Australians still you’ll find your boundaries here.

Captain, Vice, Official Teams men we salute you one and all
Recognising in your person artists of both bat and ball.
In the pre-war days who gave us after little rest
Cos we sat around the wireless listening to the flaming test.
Kindred from across the Tasman, home of Dave and home of Dad.
Every sport in God’s Own Country will be feeling mighty glad
That despite your great achievements you would still pay us a call
 Just to show our lads some pointers with the bat and with the ball.

Poem © Bill O’Reilly, 1955

(From Sporting Rhymes, The Standard Press, Wellington, 1955, courtesy of The Hocken Library, Dunedin)

Article © Mark Pirie 2011

(Sources: Commo Bill: ‘People’s Poet’: A Biography of William Daniel O’Reilly 1898-1959 by Pauline O’Reilly Leverton (Wellington: One Off Press, 2010); Sporting Rhymes: racing, trotting, boxing, football, cricket and other verses by Bill O’Reilly (Wellington: Standard Press, 1955); and Cricket Archive)

Sporting Rhymes and Other Verses by Bill O'Reilly
(Wellington: Standard Press, 1955)

Tingling Catch congratulates the Black Caps

Congratulations to the Black Caps for their determined victory over Australia in the Second Test in Hobart.
It was exciting to watch and heart stopping as Doug Bracewell grabbed the last wicket for victory.
Well done to the team, have a good Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Nelson cricketers’ victorious return and poem, 1876

This week I did a poetry reading down in Nelson (with Laura Solomon) at the Yurt (a Mongolian hut) in the front yard of the Freehouse pub. It was a fun meeting and good to see some local Nelson poets there, including Cliff Fell who shares a cricket interest with me.
As well as reading my own poems, I did a small presentation on A Tingling Catch and shared an excerpt about the return of the Nelson Interprovincial cricketers after victory over Wellington in the Marlborough Express, 29 March 1876 (found by book collector Rowan Gibbs).
Rowan came across it while reading through the National Library’s digital archive of old New Zealand newspapers, Papers Past, and emailed it to me.
I looked up the match in New Zealand Cricket’s online Archive of First Class fixtures. All the player names in the report are correct, including the unfortunately named "Greenfield". The game at the Basin Reserve on 19 March 1876 was won outright by Nelson in a low-scoring affair, typical of that time when bowlers dominated the bat on wet pitches. Nelson bowler Eden took 9-43 and 5-20 to finish with 14-63 in the match. H R Parrington, for Wellington, top scored for the whole match with 26 in their Second Innings.
I’ll share the humorous newspaper report with you here:

NELSON CRICKETERS – “Autolycus” in the Nelson Times has the following anent the return of the Nelson cricketers the other day: — I was aroused from slumber yesterday by the soul-inspiring air of “See the Conquering,” and from my bedroom window by turning back the corner of the blind, I observed our cricketers returned from their victorious tour through the Provinces. As success always proves merit, I was not surprised an hour afterwards to hear Brown declaring that “It was decidedly the best team that had been sent to Wellington,” and I agreed with him, and added in reference to the latter part of his assertion, “Why for fear they should not be able to find a suitable piece of ground, the precautionary measure was adopted of sending a Greenfield with them.” Brown pretended not to see the pun, but I know he noticed it, for on the spur of the moment a desire for revenge filled his soul, and he took a manuscript from his pocket and with the preliminary remark that he would read a little composition hurriedly written for the occasion, he started off at a score as follows:

Sound the loud bugle and hammer the drum,
Pour out the libation (mine’s good strong old rum),
And whoever he is, may the man ne-er grow fat,
Who refuses to welcome the Knights of the Bat.

So fill up the goblet, I’ll shout till I’m hoarse,
For Sellon, and Eden, for H. and C. Cross,
For Halliday, Fowler, Greenfield, and the Knapps.
Let the glasses be brimming; allow no heeltaps.

   NOTE —
I tried to work Coles in, but found ’twas no use,
So his health for a fresh glass shall be the excuse;
And the Wellington men, foemen worthy the steel, —

Here the manuscript compelled Brown to turn to the next leaf, and I took the opportunity to turn the corner. I have not seen him since, but if any of my readers really wish to hear the remainder of the verses, I know his address, and he will be only too happy to obtain a victim.

(From the Marlborough Express, 29 March 1876)

I am unable to track down who the versifier is by the name of “Brown”. Nothing for a “Brown” comes up in a search of 19th century poetry books in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue. He doesn’t seem to be a Nelson cricketer either, perhaps a local bard at the time or maybe he’s been made up by “Autolycus” the satirist behind this report.

Here is some further information I tracked down on Autolycus, with thanks to Rowan Gibbs for his research help and the National Library of New Zealand's Papers Past digital archive:

Autolycus” appears as a common name in New Zealand newspapers from the 1870s to early 1900s including the Nelson Daily Times, the Marlborough Express, The Colonist (Nelson) and the Nelson Evening Mail and other New Zealand newspapers like The Waikato Advocate’s literary section in searches for the name in Papers Past.
Most often “Autolycus” has been used for the purpose of reviewing books, writing letters to the editor, writing short humorous columns on political and social events and penning satirical verses here and there.
However, the “Autolycus” of this cricket piece is almost certainly H. (Harry) M. Moore (or Moor), born 1840. An obituary appeared in the Grey River Argus stating he was an esteemed journalist, “a native of New South Wales”, who in earlier days worked with the miners on the West Coast of New Zealand “and took a leading part in the matters affecting the welfare of the [mining] community” (Grey River Argus, 21 January 1879). Here is another obituary for him from the Auckland Star:

The late H. M. Moore, editor of the Christchurch Globe, whose death was chronicled in our telegrams last evening, was a very old and experienced journalist. He was employed on the staff of the Otago Daily Times during the time that paper was edited by Mr, now Sir Julius Vogel, and at a later period was connected with several journals on the West Coast [Grey River Argus, Grey River Times and Evening Star]. He edited the Nelson Daily Times for some time, and made his mark as the author of a well-written weekly sketch with the signature of “Autolycus”. From Nelson he succeeded Mr E. T. Gillon, as manager and editor of the New Zealander, but at the close of last session was appointed to the editorial chair of the Christchurch Globe. Mr Moore was an extremely clever and industrious labourer in the field of journalism, and was generally esteemed on account of his genial and social qualities, and his dry caustic humour. Mr Moore leaves a widow and three children. His death makes another blank in the fast thinning ranks of the oldest journalists of New Zealand.

(Auckland Star, Volume X, Issue 2729, 21 January 1879, Page 2)

I gather that “Autolycus” did pen satirical verses (as a letter was published in The Colonist, 24 July 1877, in response to his verses, “Rhymes from Riwaka”, published in the Nelson Daily Times) and as I’m unable to confirm any poet by the name of “Brown”, it’s possible “Autolycus” may have written the verses as well as part of his sketch. Moore died from rheumatic fever when he was nearly 40.

Article © Mark Pirie 2011