16: 31 August

Gloucestershire v Australian Imperial Forces
Venue: Clifton College Close Ground, Clifton
Date: 27th, 28th August 1919 (two-day match)

Somerset v Australian Imperial Forces
County Ground, Taunton
29th, 30th August (two-day match)

The final county games of the tour have ended in rain. At Bristol for the Clifton festival the Australians were saved from their third defeat by the clerk of the weather, and on the first day at Taunton, in the last match of Somerset County, there was only sufficient time in which to complete the Australian innings before play stopped for the dayAustralian Collapse, Western Daily Press (Bristol), Sat 30 Aug 1919, p. 7. . Somerset cracked up so sadly on the second day that they failed hopelessly, and were well beaten by 95 runs a quarter of an hour before timeSomerset Well Beaten, Western Daily Press (Bristol), Mon 1 Sep 1919, p. 6. .

One of the features of our tour has been the hospitality of our hosts. In most counties, where time allowed, we were hosted by a range of local dignitaries, politicians, and sportsmen. Our visits to the sea-side towns of Clifton and Taunton for our final county games, while not spectacularNorwood v. West Torrens, Daily Herald (SA), Fri 3 Sep 1920, p. 7. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106554684 from a cricket viewpointCricket, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed 5 Jan 1916, p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15635376 , were exemplary for their conviviality and good fellowshipClosed Bars, Glenelg Guardian (SA), Thu 30 Mar 1916, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article214712878 . In particular, I would like to quote several speeches from our dinner at Taunton, which drove homePersonal, Daily Telegraph (Tas), Thu 11 Aug 1910, p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152235136 precisely why we were hereFred M. White, The Lady In Blue, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW), Mon 3 Apr 1916, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137102025 , and why the cricket has been secondary to their duty to the EmpireIn Australia, Barrier Miner (NSW), Wed 28 Jul 1915, p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45334594 .

The Bishop of Taunton proposed “The Imperial Forces” and remarked that ‘we have learnt much during the last five years – before the war we had learnt a little – of what our Empire meant. We had learnt in those five years what we had to lose for the Empire, but we had also learnt some of these things which we might win through the war, and that some of the things which we believed before the war to be true were really so, that our Empire was a known force. United as we had been, we had learnt in a wondrous way what it meant to the Empire’s strength. God grant that that strength might never decrease, but that we might remain united in peace as we had been in war. It was almost a byeword how splendidly the Empire responded when we were in trouble, and it was splendid the way they came to the call to the old Mother Country, and they went out to fight side by side together and learnt that we were indeed of one blood and one great nation and Empire. We had a great vision before us of what that Empire might be in the future now that the war had so bound it together. He only wished that as with cricket, so might it be with politics, that our politicians might run as straight and play the game as straight as the cricketers from Australia did and had done and then it would be good for our old Empire both beyond the seas and at home’Australian and Somerset Cricketers, Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser (Somerset), Wed 3 Sep 1919, p. 6. .

Captain Docker responded on behalf of the Australians, and said the Australian Imperial Forces were in rather a unique position, as they were the only force that was composed entirely of volunteers. Their force consisted of roughly 400,000 men, and his hearers might think that was a large number to come forward as volunteers, but if they lived in Australia they would not wonder at that, for the whole of Australia was actuated by intense loyalty to the British Empire and they always spoke of the Mother Country as “home.” They in Australia had practically no Army and knew nothing of war, and they came over here as learners, but they were most cordially received by the officers of the British Army, and any advice and help they asked for was freely given. He hoped there would be no more wars but he could assure them if the Mother Country was in need again she would not find Australia wantingAustralian and Somerset Cricketers, Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser (Somerset), Wed 3 Sep 1919, p. 6. . The Australian cricketers, like thousands of Australian wounded soldiers, will have very pleasant recollections of BristolAustralian Cricketers Entertained, Western Daily Press (Bristol), Fri 29 Aug 1919, p. 4. .

The Gloucestershire game was played at the famous Clifton College Close GroundLinda Bailey, Clifton College, 2006, photograph, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Clifton_College_-_geograph.org.uk_-_147399.jpg , “the Close” of Vitaї Lampada fame, as well as the alma mater of C. E. W. Bean, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, and General William BirdwoodDodged Bullets In Search Of Truth, Smith’s Weekly (NSW), Sat 30 May 1942, p. 14. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article234586603 . At our dinner there, those who had fallen in the war were remembered in a silent toastAustralian Cricketers Entertained, Western Daily Press (Bristol), Fri 29 Aug 1919, p. 4. . It is to those who sacrificed it all in playing up and playing the greatest game that I wish to dedicate the remainder of this week’s column.

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—Vitae Lampada, Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette (QLD), Thu 12 Jul 1928, p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article254031330
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;—
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s