As part of the countdown to the 2020/21 Douglas Cup 1st Grade Final, I am counting down what I believe are the five greatest Douglas Cup Finals. This match is the fifth on the list.
No.5 – 1930/31 – Northbourne v Ainslie – The Match which went on Forever!
The 1930/31 Final was held between Northbourne and Ainslie and started at Manuka Oval. Northbourne were the Minor Premiers by one point from Queanbeyan and Ainslie finished third after the home and away series. This Final was the first to be held at Manuka Oval, previous finals had been held Northbourne Oval and the Acton Sports Ground.
The first day of the final was held on March 21 but with heavy rain on the Thursday and Friday, an inspection of the wicket on the Saturday saw the day’s play abandoned.
The second day of the match saw excellent sunshine but play was suspended not long after 5.30pm due to heavy clouds. Ainslie won the toss and batted carefully throughout the day if now slowly to make 4 for 155 by the end of the day. Ainslie lost two early wickets, Edward Maloney and the captain John Read, which exacerbated the careful and slow batting by the Ainslie side. Harold Maloney was the next to fall for 15, lbw to Tickner. Lisle Maloney and Jock McKenzie put on a decent partnership until Maloney was stumped by Carnall for 56. When stumps were drawn, McKenzie was not out 62 and Tom Gribble was 8 not out. There was no play the following Saturday due to the ground being used for a representative match between the Federal Capital Territory and Dr Neil Blue’s XI in Sydney.
Play resumed on 11 April and Ainslie was dismissed for 342, adding 197 runs for the day’s play. Gribble was the first wicket to fall during the day after an hour’s play falling for 22. Not long after McKenzie was clean bowled by Tickner for 85. Bill Graham and Green were next partnership but Green was dismissed for 6 following a sharp catch behind the wicket by Carnall, Clyde Bunny being the bowler. Following this dismissal, the pace quickened for the Ainslie side. Collins was next dismissed for 19, scored in a few minutes. Graham and W Maloney put on a number of runs for the 9th wicket with both batsmen scoring freely. Maloney made 32 including three fours and a six and Graham was last dismissed for 84. Following the change in innings, a single ball was bowled in the Northbourne innings before an appeal was made against the light.
The fourth scheduled day’s play started on April 18 and concerns were starting to made that the conclusion of the final match of the season would start to interfere with the start of the football season. In addition a number of matches in the FCT Tennis Competition had to be postponed as competitors were still involved in the final. Parker and Bunny opened the batting and Bunny was the first dismissed for 38. Waterman was dismissed soon after who was then replaced by the captain Warren McDonald. McDonald was dismissed for 36 when he was bowled off his pads by Lisle Maloney when the score was 161. Carnall was then run out for 1 and then Temby was dismissed for 7. By the time stumps was called, Parker was unbeaten on 114.
The FCT Cricket Associated had scheduled an additional day’s play for the A Grade Final at the RMC Oval on Sunday April 19 but the Ainslie side did not appear. Sunday cricket was a contentious issue at the time and following Ainslie’s not attendance on the Sunday, a special meeting of the FCTCA was held on April 22. During this meeting it was agreed that play would continue on Saturdays and Sundays (starting April 26) from 2pm onwards until a completion in both the A Grade and B Grade Finals would be achieved. Play would also continue on Saturdays at 11am. There was talk that there would be play on the forthcoming Saturday which would be ANZAC Day but it was decided to comply with the wishes of the President of the Returned Service’s League that no play would take place. No action was taken against Ainslie’s not attendance for play the previous Sunday.
The move to include Sunday play was scuttled when the Civic Administration prohibited Sunday sport across the Territory. The match continued on May 2 and it was moved to the RMC No.1 Oval as Manuka Oval was booked for the opening of the Football season which the Prime Minister and Governor-General attended. Northbourne continued batting on and scored another 173 runs for the loss of three wickets. Parker was the first batsman dismissed on the play, adding another 11 runs before being caught at first slip for 125. Tickner came and went but Scott and Nish brought the total for 8 for 403 when an appeal against the light was upheld. Scott reached his century and was 105 not out at stumps while Nish was unbeaten on 27. Negotiations started at the end of play between the clubs for the completion of the match but Ainslie refused saying that the match had to reach a complete conclusion as set out in the constitution.
Play was scheduled to continue on May 9 at 1.30pm but heavy rain in the preceding days meant that the RMC wicket was unplayable. The next Saturday, the ninth since the start of the match was May 16. Northbourne was finally dismissed for 411 with Scott out for 110 and Nish for 27. Ainslie started their second innings and had the worse conditions of the match, batting on what was described as “rolled mud”. Ainslie had lost 5 for 76 when stumps were drawn. Green top scored with 26 while Conron was the best of the bowlers with 3 for 12. The 11th Saturday, May 23 passed and was washed out without any play, the third such happening during the match.
During this Saturday, there was talk of continuing the match on the matting wicket of the North Canberra club but the Ainslie players objected and no agreement could be made between the players of both sides and the umpires. A special meeting of the FCT Cricket Association Executive decided that the match would be moved to the North Canberra Ground on May 30 due to concerns about the wicket preparation at the RMC Oval. The match was concluded on May 30 when the Ainslie side failed to appear at the North Canberra Ground as they had protested at the meeting previously regarding moving the match to a matting wicket. As they did not appear, the match was awarded to the Northbourne Club.
The match which lasted 12 Saturdays had far reaching consequences. The following two seasons, no finals matches were played, the premiership was awarded to the side leading at the end of the preliminary rounds. When Finals were reintroduced in 1933/34, matches were limited to a maximum of four Saturdays with a result being allowed on the first innings for the first time if an outright result could not be achieved.
Ainslie 342 (J McKenzie 85, WA Graham 84no, LR Maloney 56, W Maloney 32, AJ Scott 2-37, CL Bunny 2-48, WD McDonald 2-48, S Begley 2-64, WC Tickner 2-68) & 5-79 (FC Green 26, A Conron 3-12) lost to Northbourne 414 (RG Parker 125, AJ Scott 110, CL Bunny 38, WD McDonald 36, S Begley 28, AJ Nish 27, WA Graham 4-127, LR Maloney 3-110) by a concession.