ALTHOUGH Tony Branson (1946-2020) will be best remembered as a rugby league player, who represented Australia while still playing with Nowra Warriors, he was also a notable cricketer while growing up at Nowra.
He had three years in the under 15 age group, playing with St Michaels and Nowra High School.
At the business end of the 1961-62 season, he top-scored for St Michaels in the semi-final win over Nowra High and with the gloves he took one catch and made three stumpings in the grand final loss to Bomaderry.
He was chosen in the under 16 representative side and also had his first taste of senior cricket with Nowra.
In 1962-63, he joined Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens first grade and played in that club's first premiership team.
Just prior to his 16th birthday, he was chosen in the Shoalhaven under 21 representative side and a year later he was captain.
He represented Illawarra Cricket Council's under 18s in 1963-64, when he was also invited to trial for the senior team.
During 1962-63, Tony took four catches in an innings against Nowra, and that would remain a record for Ex-Servos firsts until Brian Dwyer took five in 1975-76.
In 1964-65, when he featured in another premiership, he took 10 catches and four stumpings, which would be a club record for five years.
Although beaten by Nowra in the 1965-66 semi-final, Tony hit a career best 83 in the second innings.
He left the club late in 1966-67 and rugby league became his focus for the next decade.
After his illustrious career with St George had ended, Tony rejoined Ex-Servos where he was a popular member, and he again took the gloves.
When he played his final match in 1983-84 he had a record of 536 runs, 74 catches and 10 stumpings.
He died on April 1, 2020, aged 73 years.