Our final Anniversary of Anzac Article honours our record breaking bowler Jim Randell.
Jim played for our Club from 1900 to 1935 with a break when he enlisted in 1915 at age 35, although Jim said he was only 33. All of his service was on the battlefields of France. He was badly wounded there and spent a year in hospital, repatriated to Australia and discharged because of his severe injuries in 1917.
Jim made his debut with our Club in 1900 as a leg spinner and useful right hand bat and soon began his accumulation of 851 wickets at 17.84 over all grades. He still stands as the Club’s greatest wicket taker, approx 150 infront of Warren Evans
Jim was a key player in the Club’s first premiership in 1902-03 taking 60 wickets at 11.3 in the 3rd grade competition.
In 1904-05 he took most wickets in the second grade competition, 88 wickets at 11.3, including 10 or more wickets in a match on five occasions.
Manly returned to first-grade in 1905-06 and Jim accumulated 644 wickets at 19.75 in that grade before he retired after the 1927-28 season. Jim took five or more wickets in an innings on 55 occasions and 10 wickets in a match 19 times. He did play a further match in 1934-35 as reported by the SMH on Monday, 04/03/1935. Page 14 reported:
“J. Randell who retired from the game several seasons ago after long service, was recruited to fill a vacancy in the Manly team against Waverley”.
He scored 16 on the first day and had bowling figures of 0-10 on the second day (09/03/1935). He was 54 years 217 days and was the oldest player to play in a first-grade match until Ken Hall made his only appearance of the 2006-07 season on the first day of the match between Bankstown and St. George on 16/12/2006. Hall was eight days older. Hall did not play on the second day, Dave Freedman replacing him, so Jim is the oldest to play an entire first-grade match.
In 1909-10 Jim became the first player to take over 70 first grade wickets in a season. He took 78 first grade wickets at 12.6 and was rewarded with selection for New South Wales. War injuries delayed his return to first-grade cricket until the 1920-21 season but he was good enough to win selection for New South Wales as late as 1924-25. In nine first-class matches for New South Wales he took 31 wickets at 26.67, with a best of 5-97.
Jim was one of Manly’s 75 enlisted men, and he was one of the 19 NSW players to enlist.
As an excellent clubman, in addition to his playing contribution, Jim helped at Manly Oval tending wickets and assisting with the design and completion of the scoreboard and sightscreens. Jim also founded the Manly District Junior Association in 1921. A truly remarkable player and citizen!
Jim’s nephew Ted Goodman reported that Jim was descended from sturdy convict stock from the Rope and Pulley families who were “first down the gang plank of the First Fleet and produced the first baby born in the colony”. Ropes Creek is named after them. Randell descendants settled at Gulgong and Jim was born there 4 August, 1880. He died at Balgowlah, 7 December, 1952.
Jim was employed by Manly Council as a storeman and timekeeper before he worked for a Sydney insurance company keeping records in an impeccable copper plate writing style.
Ted said that because Jim was a top bowler he was always handed the bag of grenades to throw expertly at the Germans across the trenches. He has all Jim’s medals and a bayonet but very few of Jim’s cricket items remain because ” women relatives cleared out Jim’s Manly home after his death and were ruthless”.
We acknowledge information given to us by Jim’s nephew Ted Goodman, who is an active member of Narrabeen RSL, our Club History 1878-1978 compiled by Tom Spencer, Annual Reports, Cricket NSW Library and military sources.