by Gordon Plowman
In the 1940’s when Bradman, Lindwall and Miller were playing, the youth of Australia took to the game of cricket like fish to water. Even the tiny hamlet of Flaxton fielded a team. They had started out with just one home-made cricket bat and played on a relatively flat area in Potts and Mc Haffey’s paddock. The games they played were more social than competitive but boosted by a couple of lads who attended Nambour Rural School, they managed to scrape a team together. It wasn’t long before the Obi Obi cricketers issued a challenge and a date was set. The problem was, they had no means of transport. That was until my brother, David, had a brainwave. He would borrow Dad’s 1929 Hudson Super Six farm ute and load the whole twelve men on board.
Sun shining under a canopy of blue, breathing the crisp mountain air, the entire Flaxton cricket team with spirits high, drove through Mapleton and approached the narrow dirt road down the Obi Obi range. At least two lives had been lost on this stretch of road when vehicles failed to take a bend and crashed over the side and into the abyss. Then there was the hidden danger only David knew; the Hudson’s unreliable mechanical brakes. Better keep this to himself.
As he approached the steep descent he slowed down and changed into low gear. The engine would now do much of the braking. Like the rest of his passengers, he held his breath and hoped for the best. A cheer rang out when they reached level ground.
About half a dozen cars and a couple of horse riders had already gathered at the Obi cricket field and we can only imagine what they must have thought when their opposing team turned up, all crowded into the back of an old farm ute.
After the usual welcoming ‘smoko’ the game got underway and apart from a wonky-eyed umpire, the day went off with a minimum of disagreement.
As the sun sunk low in the west, the entire Flaxton cricket again jammed into the Hudson and waved their farewells. It was now a matter of climbing back up the Obi Obi range in the old overloaded Hudson.
They started the climb and with impeccable judgement David double-declutched as the steep incline slowed progress. The Hudson was merely crawling along in low gear when David yelled, “You might have to jump out and push. There’s a chock in the back. Don’t hesitate to shove it under one of the back wheels if we come to a stop.” This was code for, “The brakes won’t hold. If we go into a backwards slide, we’re a’gonner.”
With eight of the twelve cricketers pushing, the Hudson laboured its way slowly upwards. Accelerator flat to the boards, it suddenly found traction. Four men clambered back on board and they hauled Clive on, skinning his shins in the process. The wicket keeper ran alongside and leapt on to the running board. The opening batsman and the spin bowler tried desperately to catch up. The men in the back yelled encouragement until finally, they reached out and unceremoniously dragged them up over the tailgate with a minimum of bodily damage.
As the old Hudson nosed its way into Mapleton and safety, loud cheering broke out and the Flaxton cricketers breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Years later, so the story goes, not one of those Flaxton team members could remember the cricket score or who even won the game. But, without exception, they could all vividly recall the ride home.