This page relates to my research into various sports besides cricket and football.
An ancestor of mine on my father's side was David Richardson (1812-1860). Having served his time as a convict in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) he settled in Launceston and married Mary Ann Hill in 1842. He also became known for the next 10-15 years as quite a good jockey, riding many winners at various meetings around the state. Indeed he became so well known that the press of the day, instead of putting his full name in their descriptions, sometimes simply called him "Davey."
In 1851 the Launceston Races were held in early March. A report in the Cornwall Chronicle issue of 8th March includes the following:
The course presented a most cheering spectacle, the booths surmounted with flags of every colour and denomination, some having the names of the particular political favorites of the different landlord, who were fully occupied in supplying the people with the 'choice nectar,' from either Lukin's, Fawns, Wallis', or Button's, whilst many merry picnic parties relieved the scene and made it delightful....But to the races - to the races...
The following horses were entered for the ALL AGE STAKES, twice round the course,
[result and description]
Mr S. Blackwell's Deception... 1
Mr H. Gee's Hero... ... ... ... ... 2
Mr A. Rose's Bay Middleton... 3
Mr J. Filed's Chancellor... .. .. 4
Bay Middleton, who had hitherto run so true, bolted at the first post, and before he could be turned and got again on the course, was half a mile behind; that inimitable jockey, Davey Richardson, who was riding him, on again getting him on the course, with that judgement and precision for which he is so remarkable, rode him admirable; although he was at the distance behind we have remarked, Bay Middleton galloped at that tremendous pace as not only to save his distance, much more than was expected, but also to beat Chancellor, and come in third horse. We understand a match for £ 100 was immediately agreed on between Bay Middleton and Deception.
Fifty years afterwards a new illustrated weekly newspaper was issued by the Launceston Examiner. It was called the Weekly Courier and the first issue was published on 6th July 1901. A varied array of articles appeared: news items, practical hints, short stories, a page of jokes and comic pars, plus plenty of sports information.
The following extract comes from an article headed ZEEHAN NOTES written by "Racquet".
Early in 1891 half an acre of land was taken up under residence license at what is now the corner of Gellibrand and Leventhorpe Streets. The land here formed part of a sharp slope of clay and rock, covered with button-grass earth. The earth and clay were stripped off and the rock cut away to make a level surface of the site required; then a dressing of fine sifted quartz gravel was put on; and on this make-shift of a court the game was played with much enthusiasm for some four years or more.
The markings of the court were very primitive. Of course the gravel was loose (it did not in any way bind on the surface), and a marking by painted lines would not stand. Wooden, tin, or even calico markings might have been put down, but no one seemed to think it worth the trouble. Just a line or mark made with a stick drawn along the surface, as one draws or writes on sea sand, satisfied the players. There were no straight-edges either for putting it down - doing it by "eye" was sufficient - and as may be imagined, the locality of the lines varied much from day to day. It was seldom a set could be played through without re-drawing some of the lines, or parts of them; but, notwithstanding all drawbacks, the court was a source of much pleasure to the members, and has been the scene of many keen contests.
Membership was almost limited to men, and it was only as a great favour, and after proof of her ability to play, that a lady was allowed to join. The formation of this court must have cost something like £ 120. About 1894 an attempt was made to improve it by a top-dressing of asphalt, but either through insufficient tar in the mixing, or from the materials being too wet when used, or it may have been from a heavy downpour of rain as the dressing was being spread and for several hours after, it never set, and was little better than so much loose tailings.
Soon after this the tennis declined, the most prominent players (amongst whom were Messrs. Thornley, King, Black, Ludbrook, Dunn, Williams, Weston, and Thomas) having left for other parts, and as after awhile there seemed no likelihood of its reviving, the old court and its belongings were sold, the proceeds being banked. Some time later an attempt was made to revive the game, and the money in hand was used to assist in making the wooden court now held by the Zeehan Tennis Club. Tennis afterwards revived a good deal, and as the location of the new court was too distant for many players, a new club, "The Iris," was formed for the King end of the town. The old original tennis court was re-purchased, and a wooden court laid on the surface of the old asphalt dressing.
As this whole site continues to grow I plan to add various snippets on other sports to this page. Some which I am likely to include are: soccer, cycling, lacrosse, sailing and rowing regattas, croquet, darts, and badminton.
I do not intend writing a history of these: more probably just a few paragraphs which may provide clues for further research if anyone wants to pursue them.
From the Launceston Advertiser issue of 6th December 1830
Meetings called for the purpose of keeping up national usage and customs and cementing friendship, have always met with our unqualified support and approbation, more particularly when carried on with a spirit of unanimity, conviviality and good fellowship, unmixed with party feeling or private pique. We are led to this observation from the great satisfaction and pleasure enjoyed on Tuesday last [30th November], by those admitted to the celebration of the Anniversary of SAINT ANDREW, the Tutelar Saint of Scotland, held at the London Hotel here. We on our part shall only add, that we trust the Club as now established will meet with every encouragement, and may every future meeting be conducted in the same pleasant and agreeable manner with the one just taken notice of.
The next column on the same page carried a repport on that meeting and it reads in part:
Tuesday last, the 30th ult., being the anniversary of Saint Andrew, the Patron Saint of Caledonia, a number of gentlemen met at the London Tavern here, to celebrate the same, according to ancient customs. About six o'clock, the martial strains of the great Highland War Pipe sounded the "Gathering of the Clans", and at 7 the company sat down to an elegant dinner prepared under the direction of their respected landlord and countryman, Mr GEO. SINCLAIR BRODIE.
The chair was respectably filled in the person of Mr. JAMES HILL, junior, of [next line unreadable] ...admirably the office of Croupier.
The Chair was well supported, indeed it seemed to be the wish - the sole wish of all present to promote coviviality, mirth and harmony, many national and appropriate toasts were given, and drank with enthusiasm, the merry song went round, while the pipes now and again rejoiced the hearts of all present, and reminded them of the days of former years.
From the Launceston Advertiser issue of 13th December 1830
A numerous and respectable body of Colonists have agreed to meet at Perth on New Year's Day, to enjoy themselves, and brace their nerves, and strengthen their frames by a contest at the most favourite game of "Ancient Caledonia's" brave and warlike sons, viz., the game of "SHINTY."
There has been long been wanting, according to [ou..de..], some national game, or games, which would congregate together the people, some favoured pastime which like the above sport, combines amusement with a vigorous exertion of the powers of the body. For no man nor nation can ever become fully able to bear the fatigues attendant upon the life of either soldier or sailor, except by accustoming themselves to athletic games and sports; and what people can match the English or Scotch in the patient endurance of the labors and fatigues incident to human nature in this sublunary sphere? and we believe we may assert without fear of contradiction, that however well the Native Youths of this Colony have behaved in the late campaign, yet they fell short - far short of the patient willing and ever enduring spirit manifested by the Sons of Brittania, the hardy Scot, the vigorous Briton, and the ardent Irishman - These "Hearts of Oak," nothing can appal, nothing can dishearten, and while their leaders, as lately, pay due attention to them, nothing can abate their ardour and patriotism, and a great part of this spirit is nourished and fostered by the vigorous and soul-stirring games so fondly cherished in our ever dear native land. It is for these reasons that we wish well to this Club, may they enjoy every possible pleasure attendant on such occasions and may they often meet, and that with increased feelings of goodwill to each other, and to mankind at large.
Unfortunately no further reference to this planned match has yet been found.
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