THIS month marks 100 years since cricketing friends of Alfred Aldridge Morris erected a plaque, with stumps, two bats and a ball on it, in his honour at the Nowra Showground.
To remember Morris, Alan Clark AM his written a profile piece honouring the man, who passed away on April 23, 1920 aged 70.
Morris was the youngest of four sons of Robert Morris and his wife Elizabeth (nee Aldridge), born at Gerringong on October 4, 1849.
Robert (c1811-95) had been a public school teacher at Mittagong and so well known was he there and at Bowral that following his death, one obituary stated, "He lived and he died honourably".
Elizabeth had once conducted a private school at Jamberoo where she helped educate Sarah Hyam (later the wife of Nowra's first mayor, Henry Moss).
Two of the sons became teachers - Robert Newton (1844-1931) who spent time as a minister in the Congregational Church before embarking on an illustrious career in education, rising firstly to the position of inspector and at the time of his retirement in 1911, was chief examiner of the Department of Education.
In the meantime, he had been married on December 19, 1876 at St Peter's, Sydney to Elizabeth Australia Bibb (daughter of architect John Bibb), who had been given her second name because of being born on Australia Day 1854.
They had nine children, but five did not survive their first year.
Shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Dorothy Eileen Australia (1894-1972), Elizabeth died on May 31, 1894, aged 40 years, and Alfred was left to bring up their family.
They lived in a Junction Street cottage called The Poplars, opposite the shops that were destroyed in the fire of June 1894 and after noticing the blaze at 1.30am, Alfred's prompt action probably prevented the loss of life.
During the following August, his furniture (including a first class piano) was auctioned by Stewart and Morton but the electoral roll at the turn of the century still has him residing in Junction Street.
By September 1900, he was living in a small weatherboard building at the corner of Kinghorn and Worrigee streets, which received minor damage in a fire.
From 1882, Alfred rode his horse to teach at the Bamarang and Carrarawell schools, spending half his time at each (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at one school with Tuesday and Thursday at the other and they changed over on alternate weeks).
That meant a round trip of about 10 miles each school day along unsealed roads and tracks.
These two locations were both near the Shoalhaven River, some four miles apart.
When Carrarawell closed, Bamarang was linked with road ends.
A methodical man, he kept a record of each day's activities and calculated that in travelling to school over a 31-year period he had covered 41,250 miles on horseback and in his latter years, deciding in October 1897 to walk to school, travelled 16,198 miles on foot until his retirement in late 1911, when the Bamarang school closed.
His mileage during two years at Milton had been 4600, while there were 33,020 miles while teaching at the two schools (1882-96), and a further 3630 when he was full-time at Bamarang for 18 months, before he dispensed with the horse.
When John James Glanville visited the site of the Bamarang school shortly before his death in 1965, he looked at the fig tree with some of the names carved by students still evident, along with a huge rock.
He recalled that as a physical education exercise, Mr Morris had timed each of his pupils as they climbed the rock.
Long-time Bomaderry resident Albert Petrie (1898-1989) recalled in 1983 that he had been taught by Mr Morris, as had his mother before him.
During the 1880s, he was active in the Nowra School of Arts (when it was still in Plunkett Street) and earned applause for his recitations at more than one social function.
In his latter years, the teaching fraternity continued to involve him, and as late as 1913, he helped organise the Empire Day sports and picnic at Nowra which was attended by 300 children and a similar number of parents.
Alfred Morris always found a way to involve his passion for cricket with his teaching, showing students the finer points of the game.
To warrant the cricketing plaque, it could be assumed that he was a cricketer of note in the district, but that was not the case.
On his arrival at Nowra, he joined the local club and was playing at the time the first concrete wicket was constructed on the Recreation Ground. Scores in the Shoalhaven press during the 1880s reveal that he seldom made a double-figure score and never reached 20, while he does not appear to have often bowled.
However in consecutive seasons, he was reported to have taken splendid one-handed catches in the outfield.
He was a member of the Nowra team that won the Cohen Cup contested in 1888-89, and coming in at number 11 in the final, he contributed 10 to a handy partnership with fellow teacher, Fred Skinner.
He had several years on the club committee and was a regular when a Shoalhaven Teachers XI had matches.
During the 1890s, he became involved in the Bamarang club, was always ready to fill in when a team was short, and participated in concerts and picnics organised by the club.
After his retirement from teaching, he was honoured by the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association which had no trouble finding subscribers for a presentation.
In the lead-up to the 1913/14 season, he was presented with a suitably inscribed gold chain and albert, in recognition of his involvement in the sport.
Association president Archie McDonald said that their guest was held in the highest esteem and regard by all cricketers in the district.
Tom Thurgate said he was "a true sportsman" and Jack Pallett acclaimed him as "an admirable sportsman on and off the field".
After acknowledging the generous gift, Mr Morris in reply spoke of the great influence for good that cricket and such kinds of manly sport had on the stability and building up of a nation and instanced the ruin or downfall of Rome to the decadence of her national sporting spirit.
On a lighter note, he caused merriment as he impressed upon the young maidens in attendance that when married, they should give their spouses every encouragement to take a lively interest in cricket.
He was well known to the St George players who regularly came to the Shoalhaven for several years, watching their matches and making all in the visiting party welcome.
Early in the month of his death, there had been a visit from the city club which noted his absence and wished him a speedy recovery.
However Alfred knew his time was near, and he secretly wrote letters to each member of his family, to be found later.
Following his passing on April 23, 1920, a death notice invited cricketers to attend the funeral service which next morning left the home of his elder daughter Maud (wife of John Braithwaite); and cricketers were singled out for mention in the subsequent return thanks notice.
Described by the Shoalhaven News as "one of nature's gentlemen", its obituary also stated that he "fairly revelled in cricket".
At the next annual meeting, the association made special reference to the death of Alfred Morris, and resolved to open a fund so that he might be remembered.
A year later with sufficient funds in hand, the Shoalhaven Agricultural and Horticultural Association gave permission for the tablet to be erected.
This first appeared in the Time Traveller - Shoalhaven Family History Society.