Goldfield Ashes a headline NQ Event

Posted March 26, 2015


Inaugural Ashes - President of the Charters Towers Cricket Association Jack Meeson - left and secretary Ian “Gassy” Mann Ashes with trophies, 1949.

It was foundation day weekend in 1949 when eight towns from around north Queensland came together to play three days of cricket in the hot and dusty town of Charters Towers.

67 years on and the event has grown to host more than 250 teams and is believed to be one of the biggest cricket competitions in the world.

The concept for the carnival stemmed from a love of cricket and a need for a morale boost post-war said Charters Towers historian Michael Brumby.

“Charters Towers had been through 50 years of no longer being the most prominent town in north Queensland. Mining gave out in about 1906 so we had shrunk back to a town of 6,000 to 7,000 people,” Mr Bumby said.

“The town itself probably wasn’t doing so well after the war and it was a bit of a struggle.”

The driving forces of the carnival were the Charters Towers Cricket Club president Ian Mann and secretary Jack Neeson.

Ian was the manager of the local gas works and Jack was a number-taker in the railway.

Their vision for the Carnival was described in the following statement.

“The object of the Carnival is to bring together from near and far our fellow cricketers to participate with good sportsmanship and friendly rivalry in the King of Games.”

The eight teams who played in the inaugural event came from Charters Towers, Townsville, Hughenden, Ayr, Pentalnd, Ingham and Homestead.

The competition was initially known as the Foundation Day Cricket Carnival but a ceremonious event at the local gun club saw it re-named as the Goldfield Ashes.

In 1950 three wickets were burnt to ashes, said Mr Brumby.

“They were later wrapped in red cellophane paper, reminiscent of their fiery ending, and eventually were placed in a cup to become a coveted prize for the carnival,” he said.

“With this symbolic act, a commitment was made by all visitors to return for this prize, especially when Charters Towers won the first ashes and Hughenden claimed the runner up honors.”

The competition has now gotten into the psyche of north Queensland, said Mr Brumby.

“Most people who come have got problems with their cricket rather than their drinking but police always say in general the crowd is great,” he said.

“There are some really strong traditions there and some people return each year passing the tradition on generation to generation.”

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