Plaques to remember local sporting legends

A five year project to install plaques at sporting ovals named after local identities, jointly funded by the Kiama & District Sporting Association and Kiama Council, has borne fruit.

“It was thought that there needed to be explanation as to who the grounds were named after, by outlining of their story and achievements,” says the Association’s President Col Rathbone.

“As years go by, these local legends need to be remembered as people, not just a location.”

The first of the plaques to be installed highlights the achievements of Gerry Emery, a dairy farmer from Gerroa, known as the Bradman of the Bush. He scored 61 First Grade centuries in his career, included a top score of 314 for Gerringong in 1938 (when he scored 42 off one eight ball over). The next week he scored 218!

His work as a dairy farmer, stopped him playing for the State.

Fittingly, Gerry Emery Oval at Gerringong is the home of Gerringong Cricket Club, as well as Gerringong Football Club and Gerringong Touch.

The other 10 plaques are to be installed progressively at:
Athol Noble Oval
Home of Gerringong Cricket Club, Gerringong FC and Gerringong Touch
John Hannigan Oval
Home of Jamberoo CC
Keith Irvine Oval
Home of Jamberoo CC, Jamberoo FC and Jamberoo Touch
Dorothy Bailey Oval
Formerly home of Gerringong Hockey Club and now used by Gerringong RL and Touch
Chittick Oval
Home of Kiama Rugby Union and Kiama RL
Michael Cronin Oval
Home of Gerringong RL
Boxsell Reserve
Home of Gerringong Junior CC
Kevin Walsh Oval
Home of Jamberoo RL, Jamberoo CC and Jamberoo Touch
Chapman Point Reserve
Home of the Kiama Softball Association
Kiama Netball Courts and Val Brunker Centre
Home of the Kiama Netball Association

Gerry Emery’s nieces Sandra Hamblen and Merelyn Pearce, with (from left) John Dawson and Paul Condon of the KDSA, and Paul Berry and Mal Lambert of the Gerringong Cricket Club

The plaques for the people above read:

Athol Noble B.E.M and A.M
24 September 1921- 18 February 2007

“Mr. Sport” was a passionate sports administrator who held the positions of Secretary and Treasurer of the Gerringong Cricket Club for 40 years.

He was also Secretary of the South Coast Cricket Association for 38 years, Secretary of Group 7 Rugby League for 11 years, as well as Publicity Officer of both South Coast Cricket and Rugby League Associations for over 60 years.

His commitment to both sports earned him Life membership of South Coast Cricket and Rugby League Associations.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to sport and the community in 1977 and the Australia Medal in 2002.

This oval that bears his name was formerly part of the Noble family’s farm.

Dorothy May Bailey B.E.M.

Dorothy was born in London, England on 11 th July 1915. Her father, Herbert Edwards, was appointed the first professional tennis coach by the NSW Tennis Association. When the family migrated to Sydney in 1921, they settled in Roseville where they ran a tennis school for many years.

She met Winston Bailey when she came to Gerringong with the Land Army during WWII. Dorothy and Winston married at Roseville on 4th November 1944 and moved to Homeleigh Dairy Farm in Gerringong.

Dorothy became very involved in the Gerringong community:

  • coaching tennis to school children in Gerringong
  • founding organiser of the Gerringong Women’s Hockey Club in 1947
  • assisting with Girl Guides
  • founded the Gerringong Committee of the Children’s Medical Research Institute in March 1959
  • started volunteer groups at both Blue Haven and Mayflower Retirement Villages
  • served on the board of the Kiama Hospital.

Dorothy received the British Empire Medal for her charity and community work.

The Bailey family donated a parcel of land which now forms part of the Hockey field that bears her name.

Edgar “Gerry” Emery
7 January 1911- 22 March 1999

“As you have to hit the ball, you may as well hit it hard!”

In a long career, the dairy farmer from Gerroa, Edgar “Gerry” Emery, known as the “Bradman of the Bush”, scored 61 First Grade centuries. He scored his 60th century when he was 60 years old.

His feats included a top score of 314 for Gerringong versus Shellharbour in 1938 when he scored 42 off one eight ball over. The next week he scored 218!

Emery Reserve at Gerroa is on a part of the land his great grandfather purchased in 1838 and handed over to Council to be used as a reserve.

Gustavus “Gus” Chittick

Gus Chittick was a dairy farmer at “Alne Bank”, Gerringong, where he was a stud breeder of Australian Illawarra Shorthorn (AIS) cattle.

He was a judge and director of Gerringong Dairy Society for 23 years and a member of the Kiama Show committee for many years. He was President of the Kiama A. & H. Association, and was the longest serving committeeman.

Gus was a local, district and state leader of the Junior Farmers’ Clubs, before becoming the first Country President of the State Council for which he was awarded Life Membership.

He was an alderman for 27 years in which time he was Mayor of Gerringong before becoming the first mayor of the amalgamated Kiama, Jamberoo and Gerringong area in 1954.

This area was used as cattle yards for the Kiama Show from 1897 and was converted to a sports field in 1962.

Gus was awarded an O.B.E (Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1962.

John Hanigan

John made an outstanding contribution to sport and the greater Jamberoo community over many decades.

He was a long-term player for Jamberoo Cricket Club. As a player he was recognised as an outstanding fielder, but it was his service to the club for which he is most remembered. He served as President of the Club, wicket curator and junior team coach.

John was also a player and loyal supporter of Jamberoo Rugby League Club, and was a keen golfer who voluntarily assisted with the development and maintenance of the Jamberoo Golf Course.

John was honoured with Life Membership of Jamberoo Combined Sporting Clubs, Jamberoo Cricket and Jamberoo Golf Clubs.

He was recognised by Cricket Australia for over 50 years of service to Cricket.

Keith Irvine

Keith played cricket with the Jamberoo Cricket Club for decades.

He was an aggressive, hard hitting middle order batsman who was recognised as an outstanding fielder and represented the South Coast District Cricket Association on many occasions.

Keith was also a long-term member of the Jamberoo Tennis Club and a competitive player in the local competition.

He performed many hours of volunteer work on the Jamberoo Cricket and Tennis Club playing facilities over many years.

Keith was honoured with Life Membership of both the Jamberoo Cricket and Tennis Clubs for his outstanding service.

Kevin Walsh

Kevin was a dairy farmer at Jamberoo and for many years was a member and President of Jamberoo Junior Farmers, who held their annual show on this oval.

Kevin played Rugby League for many seasons with Jamberoo and he also coached the club.

Between 1946 and 1975 Kevin served as a selector and administrator at various times for Jamberoo, Group 7, Southern Division, NSW Country, NSW and the Australian Rugby League.

Kevin was a Life Member and President of Jamberoo RLFC, Group 7 Senior and Junior Rugby Leagues, Southern Division Rugby League and Life Member & Vice President of the NSW Country Rugby League and Life Member of NSW Rugby League. He was also a Founding Committee Member, President and Life Member of Kiama Leagues Club.

In 2009 Kevin was inducted into the Kiama Municipal Council Sports Roll of Honour. Kevin Walsh was a stalwart of the Jamberoo Community.

Michael Cronin
Born 28 June 1951 at Kiama

One of Gerringong’s favourite sons who went on to become one of the most illustrious rugby league players in Australia.

In 1969 at the age of 17, Michael made his first grade debut for the Gerringong Rugby League Football Club, playing eight successful seasons. The following year he represented Southern Division, playing against Great Britain on the 5 July 1970.

In 1973 he was selected in the NSW Country and NSW State sides while still playing for his home club Gerringong, and that same year he was chosen to represent Australia on the Kangaroo Tour of England and France, where he excelled. Michael soon became one of the most renowned rugby league centres in the world.

Michael’s professional club career began in 1977 in the Sydney competition with the Parramatta Eels RLFC and after ten seasons, and 4 premierships, he retired after the Parramatta Eels won the NSWRL Grand Final in 1986. Michael coached several Gerringong junior and senior teams from 1973-2007, winning four junior league premierships. He also coached Parramatta first grade from 1990-1993 and returned to coach the Gerringong Lions first grade from 2009-2020, winning several premierships in the SCRL Group 7 competition.

  • Rugby League Week “Player of the Year” 1977.
  • Rothmans medal winner 1977,78.
  • The Dally M “Centre of the Year” 1980, 81, 83.
  • Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame Inductee 2007.
  • Life membership, Parramatta RLFC, Gerringong RLFC, SCRL Group 7 & NSWRL.
  • In 2008 selected as one of the “100 Greatest Rugby League players” in the history of the game in Australia.
  • Cleary Bros. “Player of the Year” 1970 to 1975 in SCRL Group 7 competition.
  • Selection in the “Team of the past 50 Years” SCRL Group 7 Centenary 2013.
  • Parramatta RLFC premierships 1981, 82, 83, 86.
  • Gerringong RLFC first grade premierships 1970, 72.
  • Gerringong RLFC first grade premierships as coach 2010, 13, 15, 16.

Australia: 33 Tests, 1973-1982 (305 points)

Internationals: 2 games, 1973-1978 (5 points)

NSW Firsts: 19 games, 1973-1981 (152 points)

NSW Country:  4 games, 1973-1976 (24 points)

NSW City: 6 games, 1977-1982 (91 points)

NSW State of Origin: 6 games, 1980-1983 (31 points)

The Boxsell Family

Keith Boxsell
2/5/1902- 9/6/1998

Keith Boxsell played for the Gerringong Cricket Club from 1923 to 1960. He played in the 1946 Premiership winning team as Captain. Keith also served on the Gerringong Cricket Club committee for 20 years and is a Life Member.

Richard Boxsell
D.O.B. 7/7/1951

Richard Boxsell played for the Gerringong Cricket Club from 1963 to 2003. He served on the club committee in various positions for 40 years and is also a Life Member.

Margaret Boxsell
D.O.B. 10/2/1952

Margaret Boxsell served in a number of roles on the Gerringong Cricket Club committee for 30 years and is the third member of the family to be awarded Life Membership.

They are all true servants to the game of Cricket and the Gerringong Club.

Thomas Chapman

Thomas Chapman was born in 1795 in London, England.

He arrived in Sydney in 1826 after a short period in Tasmania.

During his time in the Colony he speculated in property, which made him one of the wealthiest men of the time.

Thomas moved to Kiama in 1856 and built Hartwell House (circa 1858 – 1859) that stands across the road from the oval that bears his name.

Kiama’s first golf course was on Chapman Oval. The Golf club began in 1905. The clubhouse was opposite in a house named Whincliffe.

Thomas Chapman died at Kiama in 1874 and is buried in the Kendall’s Private Cemetery, Kiama.

Val Brunker
D.O.B. 7/11/1936

Val Brunker was the founding President of the Kiama Netball Association, which was established in 1987 when it affiliated with Netball NSW.

She spent many hours negotiating with Kiama Council to have the Netball courts located on an unused asphalt area that was designated for parking.

Along with help from her husband Maurie, the competition was initially run out of a caravan and then a converted shipping container before obtaining funds for the lighting of the courts and the building of the current clubhouse.

She was an A Grade player, representative team coach, National C Badged umpire and administrator for many years.

She is a Life Member of both Kiama and Blacktown Netball Associations, received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, the prestigious Anne Clark Service to Netball Award from Netball NSW in 2006 and is a member of the Kiama Municipality Sports Honour Roll.

Val retired as President of the Association in 2015 after 28 years of service to Netball in Kiama, but she continued to serve the sport she loved by serving on various committees and attending games when able.

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