What the scorecards don’t tell us: an oral history tradition

My club, the Sutherland District Cricket Club, the Sharks, started in 1965. In working with the club on this public history project, the first question that faced us was understanding what ‘history’ was in the context of the organisation, what the concept meant to the club, and how it could be used.
For most local and community-based sporting organisations there is an immensity of written history in scorecards and annual reports from game to game, season to season – but they are not the whole story. What is forgotten unless recorded in scorecards, team pictures, trophies or annual reports? And what is told around the club house, or in the sheds before and after a game, or at the pub over a few beers?
The deeper history of a sporting club lies within the memories and experiences of its players – the stories that are sometimes told, but often forgotten. What comes to form the culture of a club is a history passed down through stories from the older players to the new, of the game that got away, the century that won a match, the on-field banter and antics, the highs, and the lows, the losses and the victories. In a sense, the culture of a club is built on and continues through an oral tradition of history.
Our work is shaping around the documenting of these histories of the club, the stories of players and members of the community that have been around the club for significant parts of its over a half a century of history. In the coming weeks we will hopefully be conducting video interviews with several members of the club, asking them about their best memories playing, coaching or just generally being around the club, on and off the field. These videos will be used by the club across social media platforms for both the public and local community, as well as to carry on the stories amongst the current generation of players, continuing the oral history tradition.

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