Recollections of Sport in past times

Text: John McGregor

My grandfather, William McGregor, and his two brothers, Jack and Davie, all played cricket for Crafers in the late 19th century. Their home ground was Atkinson’s paddock, behind the butcher‘s shop, and which was grandly called the Crafers Oval. To me the term “Oval” suggests at least that the area is somewhat flat, but the paddock sloped towards Stirling with a slight depression running down it which no doubt acted as a water course when it rained.

My father, Don, played football for Crafers before WWII, and their home ground was also the Crafers Oval.

Atkinson’s paddock with the Church of the Epiphany in the background. Hopefully the stumps were removed before it was used for sport!

As a child, the only function I recall attending on the Oval was a Guy Fawkes night one Nov 5th. A huge bonfire had been made in the middle of the Oval and there was a money-raising fete from late afternoon before the fire was lit. When it had burnt down the fireworks display started — sky rockets, Roman candles, sparklers, and the like.

When I was a young teenager, I sometimes walked to Stirling on a Saturday afternoon in winter to watch Stirling playing football matches. Their main rivals were Aldgate and Uraidla. The highlight of the afternoon, though, was to go to Bert Dyer’s Fish and Chip shop, about where the Library is now, to spend sixpence buying some chip potatoes.

Stirling Oval opening ceremony, 1936

Lesley Finlayson added the following comments to John’s article:

The Mc Gregor men were solid members of the various Crafers men’s cricket teams. My father played cricket for the team in the 1950’s. Yes part of the Crafers Creek ran through the “oval” and there were lovely native ferns and orchids on the banks.
A major event on Atkinson’s paddock was the giant auction in the 1950s to fundraise for the proposed Kindergarten. The fundraising for the CFS occurred later in the form of Giant Bonfire and Fete and Miss Mt Lofty Quest. Stirling Council was in agreement with the Atkinson family to purchase the paddock for sporting events and recreation but was overruled by State Government and the land used for the Freeway which was badly needed.
Football was also played on the oval with Stirling and Crafers being rivals. Physical activity occurred during the game and after at the Crafers Hotel. Frank Chardon was a referee and involved in hearing charges against players.

References: Trove has amusing tales and descriptions of games played. Also see the “Courier” of the time.

Do you have memories/photos of Sporting events or venues, particularly at the Crafers Oval?

Contact us at or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.