Newcastle District Cricket Association: Cardiff-Boolaroo to farewell long-time home ground Cardiff No.1

FOND MEMORIES: Club president Matthew Maher and veteran opening bowler Matthew Willett at long-time home ground Cardiff No.1 this week. Saturday will be the last time Cardiff-Boolaroo's first grade team play at the venue before moving to a new sports facility at Cameron Park next season. Picture: Josh Callinan
FOND MEMORIES: Club president Matthew Maher and veteran opening bowler Matthew Willett at long-time home ground Cardiff No.1 this week. Saturday will be the last time Cardiff-Boolaroo's first grade team play at the venue before moving to a new sports facility at Cameron Park next season. Picture: Josh Callinan

As a kid Matthew Maher remembers walking over the hill to watch his brothers play at Cardiff No.1.

Matthew Willett has lost count of the overs he’s bowled from the southern end.

But this Saturday they will join clubmates and old boys alike in bidding a fond farewell to Cardiff-Boolaroo’s long-time home ground.

The last-round encounter will mark the end of an era and 30-plus summers of memories at the venue before relocating first grade fixtures to new headquarters at Cameron Park next season. 

It will be an occasion met with mixed emotions.  

Matthew Willet and Matthew Maher at Cardiff Oval No.1 this week

“I’ve only ever played senior cricket for Cardiff so it’s very somber, but very exciting as well,” 33-year-old veteran opening bowler Willett said.

Club president Maher echoed those sentiments: “I’ve been involved here for as long as I can remember, so it will be sad to go but we’ve got to move on as well”.

Originally formed as Wests Lakes in the late 1940s before changing club names, Cardiff No.1 has been the main field for the best part of four decades. It’s been home to many talented players, featuring state representatives Gordon Goffet, Chris Beatty and Adam Maher. Arguably Cardiff’s finest hour was celebrating their maiden and only first-grade premiership in 2009-2010, coinciding with their 60th anniversary.  

“There’s a lot of good memories here,” Maher said.

On Saturday, last-placed Cardiff resume their second innings at 2-95, leading semi-final aspirants and defending champions Hamilton-Wickham by five runs.

The district’s top scorer and recently re-signed Rahul Bakshi (61 not out), who has 728 runs at an average of 48.53, will be key as the hosts look to stave off an outright. 

Last weekend Cardiff were skittled for 53 before Hamwicks, including 5-3 and 40 not out from Matt Webber, declared at 7-143 in a bid to hold onto fourth spot on the competition ladder.

It’s a similar maximum-points-on-offer scenario at Ron Hill Oval with second-placed Merewether (2-32) four runs behind Toronto’s first-innings total of 135 after being rolled for 99 on day one.  

Elsewhere and University (2-58) need 212 more runs to reel in minor-premiership hopefuls Wests (269) at Harker Oval while Charlestown (6-412), Belmont (347) and Waratah-Mayfield (316) are all defending big totals against Stockton-Raymond Terrace, Wallsend and Newcastle City respectively.