The University of Tasmania Nationals Division 1 Twenty20 side set off to Sydney this morning for a 4 day tournament in Campbelltown NSW against other Australian Universities. The side consists of a mixture of University students from a variety of CTPL clubs and other clubs across Tasmania, and will led by coach Noah van de Werken, captain Charlie Greenwell and experienced Intervarsity traveller and UTAS Cricket Club life member Bob Cotgrove.
Earlier this year, the University of Tasmania Cricket Club held a Testimonial Dinner to acknowledge the cricket career of Bob, who announced his retirement as a player after more than sixty years.
The President of Veterans Cricket Tasmania and a former University CC player, Bill Friend, delivered the following tribute. The tribute has been expanded with the assistance of Mike Gandy, who is editor of the Australian Cricket Society Tasmania Inc newsletter Break O’Day, and others.
"This evening we pay tribute to a living legend whose unrivalled contribution to the TUCC will not be surpassed for it was not only on the playing field, but perhaps even more importantly off it, that his influence was extraordinary.
Robert DM Cotgrove was born on 13 November 1938 at Gravesend in Kent, England where he spent the war years with his parents and older brother, John. Gravesend was on the German flight path to London and Bob retains clear memories of aerial dogfights, bombed out buildings, flying bombs (V1 “doodle-bugs”) and other events of the war.
On his 6th birthday in 1944 a V2 guided missile landed nearby causing considerable damage and loss of life. After the war Bob’s father accepted a position at ANM Paper Mills at Boyer and the family migrated to New Norfolk in 1949.
Bob attended Hobart High from 1950-54 and after an initial year at Cadburys, Claremont, he too started work at ANM as a cadet draughtsman from 1956-61. It was in New Norfolk that Bob started playing competitive cricket, along with tennis, golf and basketball. Bob commenced his TCA career with New Norfolk CC in 1954-55 being promoted to 1st Grade in 1956-7. During his time with NNCC Bob enjoyed opening the batting on occasions with Rex Garwood, one of Tasmania’s finest sporting sons.
It was also at New Norfolk that Bob met Gloria Julin, on holiday from Victoria, and they married in Gloria’s home town of Morwell in January 1962. The couple immediately sailed for England on the SS Strathnaver and spent the next two and a half years working and touring around Britain and Europe.
From their rented flat in Greenwich, Bob joined the City of London College CC and played three days a week with the Saturday and Sunday first elevens and a Wednesday mid-week eleven.
Returning to Tasmania in late 1964 Bob and Gloria were employed as teachers at Wynyard High School before being transferred to Launceston where Bob taught maths and science at Brooks High and played cricket with Mowbray in the latter half of the 1964-65 season. A further transfer to Hobart in late 1965 enabled Bob to enrol at the University and start his long career with TUCC, despite playing his first match just four weeks before his 27th birthday.
The following season saw the Yorkshire professional, and later England player and Test umpire, John Hampshire, allocated to the Club for the next three seasons. Hampshire, recruited as the TCA coach, was part of a quality Uni team that also contained Bruce Doolan, Graeme Farrell and Julian Abey. The team played its first grand final in 1967-68 against Len Maddock’s New Town team.
Bob, captain in place of Hampshire who had returned to England to start pre-season training with Yorkshire, lost the toss on a wet wicket and was forced to declare at 69/9 when Abey was struck on the head and collapsed on the pitch. Despite this New Town was 60/7 before scraping to 104 and a first innings win, with the following day washed out.
During these early years, Bob completed his studies graduating BA with Honours in Geography in 1970 and was appointed to the academic staff, retiring from full time employment in 2005.
Bob and Gloria bought their current house at Mount Nelson in December 1965 and parented two children, Edwina born in January 1967 and Robert born in October 1968.
Incredibly Bob played thirty consecutive seasons for TUCC including appearing in 1st Grade as an opening batsman until 1984-85 when he was 46-years old. During his time with Uni he scored over 9,000 runs and took 176 wickets in grade cricket as well as an unrecorded number of runs and wickets in inter-varsities, Southern Mid-Week and a host of social matches.
Bob held the 1st Grade 2nd wicket record of 192 with Graeme Farrell (1968-69) for many years and still holds the opening partnership record in 2nd Grade of 157 with current Cricket Tasmania Chairman Andrew Gaggin. He top scored with 41 in Uni’s first 1st Grade premiership in 1974-75 against Clarence, scored a century in a 2nd Grade semi-Final in 1982-83 and had a best score of 170* in 4th Grade in 1989-90 both against Glenorchy. In his last season with Uni, at the age of 55, mentoring the under 18s, he had a top score of 99 against South Hobart-Sandy Bay. He also represented the TCA against the NWTCA (scoring 19) in Hobart and the NTCA (0 and 18) in Launceston during the 1974-75 season.
Bob started his inter-varsity career in December 1965, a three-day home match against Melbourne University. Bob was bowled by Essendon footballer Geoff Prior for four in the first innings but carried his bat for 46* in the second innings. In between MUCC, on the back of a brilliant century by later AIS coach Dick Telford, made enough runs to win by an innings.
Bob’s exposure to inter-varsity cricket led to him eventually playing fifty I-V matches. In the early years he used the format as a useful recruiting tool to attract University students playing with other clubs. Bob was selected in the Australian Universities team to play New Zealand Universities at Newcastle in 1973-74 an honour for which he was awarded a Full Blue.
Cotgrove (left) with University of Tasmania 2018 Div 1 Nationals T20 team
In 1977 Bob, on study leave, worked with the Greater London Council on urban transport issues and played a few matches with Gravesend in the Kent League, opening the innings for their 1st Grade team. In the second of two consecutive scores of more than 70 Bob removed borrowed pads which were cutting into his ankles and handed them to the square leg umpire before resuming his innings padless. Impressed by this act some of the younger players, including Simon Hinks whom Bob later recruited to TUCC for three seasons, made a bed-sheet banner with the words “Cotgrove is bionic” which they took to The Oval Test between England and Australia and hung from the scoreboard, much to the confusion of the BBC Test Match Special team of commentators!
In 1982 Bob was appointed non-playing manager of the first ever Australian Universities team to tour England. The team comprised Shield players, Queenslanders Andrew Courtice, Roger Traves and John McGuire, West Australia’s Ken MacLeay, plus 1st Grade players from NSW, Victoria and South Australia. During the tour Bob was invited to play for the Duchess of Norfolk’s XI, captained by Colin Cowdrey, against the Australian team at Arundel Castle and had the pleasure not only of opening the innings with former Pakistani Test player, Majid Khan, but of out-scoring him before being third out for 27, bowled around his legs by Sydney Uni captain Michael O’Sullivan.
In 1985 Bob joined the Melbourne CC’s Twenty Niners team of older players participating in the first World Masters Games event in Toronto, Canada, and then again in the second World Masters Games in Denmark in 1989.
In between, in 1987, he organised the cricket section of the first Australian Masters Games, played in Hobart in 1987, winning the umpires award for the tournament’s best player with scores of 103*, 0, 75 and 73.
Bob’s participation in veterans’ cricket overlapped with his last few seasons of grade cricket and he was a regular player in Over 40 matches for the South against the North and North-West. This evolved into the Society’s Last Over XI which continues to function successfully.
When the National Seniors Championships started in 2006 Bob was a member of the Tasmanian team and participated in the next eleven Over 60 and Over 70 carnivals until 2016. In 2008 he opened the batting for Australia, captained by former Test bowler Geoff Dymock, in the first Over 60 Test Match against England at the Hogben-Meckiff Oval in Mentone, Melbourne. Later, in 2012, he was selected as vice-captain of the first Australian Over 70 Test team against England at Rupertswood, the picturesque setting where the ‘Legend of the Ashes’ was born.
Bob earned selection in the first ever Cricket Australia Over 70 team to tour England in 2013 where he scored 147 runs at 49.0, took 5 wickets at 32.0 and held 3 catches.
Turning to his administrative and leadership skills his contribution on many fronts has been remarkable and continuing. Bob was TUCC President for five Years and TCA Club Delegate for twenty years as well as serving on the Association’s Committee of Management. It is highly possible the Uni CC may not be in existence in the CTPL today if it were not for Bob’s persistent advocacy at that level as there were conservative elements who wanted to maintain strict district requirements to stop poaching.
He started his statistical role with the TCA/CTPL in 1968, doing two seasons for 2nd Grade before taking over in 1st Grade from Noel Bergin in 1970 - a position he continues to hold - a staggering fifty years as a grade statistician.
In his eightieth year Bob retired in March 2018 from the field of play after 64 years of playing cricket at an adult level."