For the first time in more than a decade, the Weipa Crocs were absent from the Goldfield Ashes cricket tournament, staged in Charters Towers over the weekend.
The Crocs normally cobble together a side through Aaron and Clair Johnson, but they were missing in action for the iconic event, staged over three days.
But that didn’t stop Weipa from having representation.
A Weipa boat worker was vice captain of the England cricket team that played matches at Lord’s.
Readers would be scratching their heads suggesting this could not be possible as Lord’s is the prestigious oval in England, known as the home of cricket.
Well this did actually happen and it occurred at Australia’s biggest cricket carnival.
One of the teams in the lower grades was named “England” and they played their games at a private ground named “Lord’s” at a remote part of Charters Towers near the School of Distance Education building.
You needed a GPS tracker to find Lords.
Weipa man David “Boofa” Mossman was the vice captain of England and told me that the team was formed about 14 years ago and most of the other players are from Charters Towers or Townsville.
“I work on a boat at Weipa and used to live at Charters Towers,” Boofa said.
He said the side was formed in 2010. Asked why it was called England, he said: “Everybody wants to see England play Australia in the Ashes and beat them, so teams we meet each carnival get their chance. The ground has a few similarities to the real Lord’s,” Boofa said.
However the famous members stand at Lord’s in the Mother Land has no comparison to the Towers namesake where spectators sit on fold-up chairs under trees to escape the sun.
So what has been the winning record of England at the Outback Ashes?
“Pretty poor and one time we played the Weipa Crocs and they gave us a pizzling,” Boofa said.
The captain of England is well known Charters Towers man Neville Huxley who opened the bowling with his left arm seamers in Friday’s game against a team named Hardly Hitters.
It was steaming hot with the temperature sitting around 35 degrees but the players’ comfort level was good after recent rain left Lord’s looking green.
England played an afternoon game and the heavens did open around 2.30pm but the downpour didn’t last long and play continued.
Matches were played at more than 70 grounds around Charters Towers and nearby areas including at parks, schools, the golf club, on private properties, the aerodrome reserve and other places.
One of the most unusual venues was called Drinkastubbie Downs which is on a cattle property about 12km from the Towers.
The A grade, B-1 and Ladies division matches were played seriously, however rules were more relaxed in the B-2 and Social grades.
These included batsman who failed to score a run had to wear a plastic duck on their heads and male fieldsmen who dropped a catch wore a women’s dress.
Boofa said that England didn’t bring a women’s dress with them for this carnival, obviously hoping that no fieldsman would spill a catch.
I did a drive around most of the grounds and spotted the Mount Garnet Eagles men’s side which had performed well at the recent carnival at Musgrave Roadhouse.
Eagles batsman Josh Henry, who has worked as a truck driver at Weipa, was smashing the ball to all parts of the field at the aerodrome reserve.
The Goldfield Ashes carnival commenced in 1948 with just six men’s teams and has expanded over the years to become a genuine Aussie icon.