Bay Oval
Bay Oval
Bay Oval

In the Media


Beyond the Bay Oval Lights - at look back at the past - Shell Cup

A recent clean-out by this writer found a long-lost link with the Bay Oval. The catalyst for the development of the Bay Oval, was Blake Park losing the extremely popular NZ Cricket Shell Cup matches held during the height of the Christmas holiday season.

The NZC Major Association one-day matches attracted holiday-makers and locals alike in their thousands, played on what was known as the Mount Maunganui Cricket Club ground. The Mount Cricket club rooms, which became the Shell Cup match day headquarters, was in fact the Mount Maunganui Cricket & Hockey Society Clubrooms.

Three decades ago hockey was played on the grass at Blake Park, with the cricket and hockey bodies forming the Society to construct and then run the changing and social facilities. 

Previously some Shell Cup matches had been held at the Tauranga Domain, however the decision was made to stage two one-day games at Blake Park on the 28th and 30th December 1987.

The Mount Maunganui Cricket and Hockey Society were quickly involved and decided to utilise the games as Society fund-raisers.

Amongst the junk that the writer found, was a report and checklist for the first two Shell Cup games at Blake Park. 

The two documents were a look back in time - when computers were in their infancy, cell phones were a new novelty and were the size of bricks, cash was king and gentlemen in white coats must always be obeyed.

A myriad of volunteers, were the established way of running big sporting events of the time and couple of dozen of beer or a  handful of tickets, could turn the impossible into miracles.

The combined society were responsible for publicity, tickets, gate keepers, clubhouse facilities, lunches and drinks along with the supply of a drinks trolley plus food and liquor. Other responsibilities included arranging use of the ground with the Mount Maunganui Borough Council, arranging parking and collecting parking fees and sourcing a flat deck trailer for the scoreboard.

The society were also responsible providing manpower and ground control, along with managing traffic flows and easy access to the ground and security of all monies. The huge volunteer involvement is in stark contrast to today, where the majority of major match management is contracted out to professional and business organisations. 

Comprehensive checklists were typed up and then distributed by hand. Many local people and organisations were approached, such as the Tauranga Harbour Board for parking, Associated Stevedores to supply ten hand-held radios, Mount Lions for tables and trestles and Cooltainers donated the use of a refrigerated container to keep the beer cold. 

Match tickets became the currency of the day with many of the needed requirements sourced for a couple of tickets. 

The crowds came in their thousands, with the holiday season games continuing to the last match on the 3rd January 2002, when the pin was pulled because of allegedly sub-standard wickets.

The first Shell Cup game at Blake Park, on the 28th December 1987, between Northern and Central Districts started with plenty of anticipation and fanfare - and ended in disappointment for the ND fans, when their star studded lineup was bowled out some 119 runs short of their target.

The ND side featured five New Zealand players in Lance Cairns, Chris Kuggeleijn, Brian Young, Grant Bradburn and David White, along with a young man who would go on to become a world super-star, in Graeme Hick. Hick finished his remarkable career with mind blowing statistics of 526 first class matches, which produced 41112 runs and a highest score of 405 not out.

Also in the ND side that day, was Bay of Plenty Cricket legend Derek Beard, with no one knowing the Blake Park cricket ground better than the Mount Maunganui Cricket Club player.

Central Districts batted first and posted a solid total when they reached 194 for the loss of seven wickets. Ian Snook top scored with 52, with Tony Blain, Gary Robertson and Mark Greatbach all making solid contributions. A sixth wicket partnership between Blain and Greatbach of 59 runs took the visitors to very defendable score.

There was plenty of good humour amongst the home fans, as Lindsay Crocker and David White opened the Northern Districts turn at bat. Three wickets with just 20 runs on the board and the dismissal of Hick for 10, brought a deathly silence to the ND fans.

Batting at five Barry Cooper, stopped the CD onslaught a little with 21 runs. However the removal New Zealand representatives in Young, Kuggeleijn and Cairns for a combined total of nine runs, has the ND innings in tatters, with the home side bowled out for 76.

Two days later Northern Districts pride was restored when they defeated Wellington by 49 runs.


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