HMVS Cerberus News

Cerberus & Cricket (1877-2008)

1877 - HMVS Cerberus v's HMS Wolverene - 2008
(Williamstown Cricket Ground - 14 Feb '08 - be there)

More than 130 years ago, on Thursday 14 November 1877, the crews of two warships in Hobson's Bay found an opportunity to break from their shipboard routine long enough for a day of sport at Williamstown Cricket Ground, compliments of the Williamstown Cricket Club. HMVS Cerberus, pride of the Victorian Naval Forces (from launch until 1875 claimed to be the most powerful warship afloat), was to test her crew against that of a the British Corvette, HMS Wolverene (flagship of the Royal Navy's Australian Squadron). Perhaps spurred on by the Australian victory over England in a match held eight months earlier at Melbourne Cricket Ground, which would eventually become recognized as the first Australia/England test match, Wolverene's crew set themselves the task of 'punitive action' against their colonial hosts. Nevertheless, as the day drew to a close and time ran out for the visitors they had to content themselves with a draw (or a 1st innings win, depending upon which news report you read).

Now it's time to honour those 19th century 'flannelled fools' with a return match of sorts. As good fortune would have it, the 1877 venue and host club are still with us and eager to repeat the exercise 130 summers on. Williamstown Cricket Club will provide a team to represent the HMVS Cerberus crew and play a visiting UK Army "Infantry Cricket Club" team which will attempt to uphold the Royal Navy's honour on behalf of HMS Wolverene's crew. Unfortunately the UK government was not convinced of the proposal's cultural and heritage value sufficiently to warrant sending a Royal Navy warship half way around the world for the crew to play cricket. Consequently, as none of their destroyers have hit a reef in our vicinity of late, the British Army will 'fly their flag'.

This 130 year old 're-match', which enjoys formal endorsement of the Victorian Metropolitan Cricket Union, is scheduled for Thursday 14 Feb '08. It will again be played on the picturesque Williamstown Cricket Ground (Mel: 56.D12) generously hosted for the second time by Williamstown Cricket Club. This time around the game will be a twenty20 twilight match commencing by 5:30pm after a Country Week fixture between Caledonia and Horsham Cricket Clubs (10:20am - 4:30pm). For the sports minded and history buffs alike, with cricket of a high calibre all day and some excellent displays by Friends of the Cerberus from their museum collection, this is definitely an event not to be missed. Make a day of it and enjoy the cricket between Caledonia and Horsham in their fixtured 'Country Week' clash, but whatever you do, don't miss the historic twenty20 twilight encounter between HMVS Cerberus (Williamstown CC) and HMS Wolverene (Infantry CC).

Friends of the Cerberus hopes that by promoting this historic cricket match greater awareness will be afforded the plight of our legendary colonial flagship, the former HMVS Cerberus, which lays substantially intact just off shore at Half Moon Bay (Black Rock). As the world's first true steam ship, first and now the last surviving example of a Breastwork Monitor (first of the 'modern' battleships), any prospect of losing the Cerberus for ever should be of major concern to all Australians. Patron John Wood and Friends of the Cerberus' board invite all who enjoy their cricket or are intrigued by our heritage, to be at Williamstown Cricket Club on this unique occasion. Food and drink will be available throughout the day and evening from licensed facilities at regular members' prices.

This is truly a rare opportunity to celebrate the history of our greatest sport through linkage with our rich maritime heritage. Please re-visit the website regularly for updates and further details of the event as they are finalized.

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