History of Hamilton SP RFC – The Track

In the 1920s there was much negotiation with the Cape Town City Council for ground at “The Track”.  Several sporting codes joined in the negotiations.  In October 1921 Hamilton’s and Green Point Cricket Club joined forces to attend to the field, granted on a year’s lease by the City Council.  The cost of levelling and rolling was £21.  In those days there was great respect for the seasons.  Hamilton’s would have its first practice on 1 April 1922, thereby not interfering with cricket.  And that practice would be on the side ground at the Track, used by the WP Athletic Association which agreed to allow Hamilton’s players free entry to train. Then on 8 April 1922 Hamilton’s teams played Villagers teams in friendly matches.  In those days members of the home club would referee the matches.              The first team would practise on a Thursday – only.  At the 1924 AGM Oupa Versfeld chastised the Club for practising only once a week.  In his day – a phrase nobody ever wants to hear – the players went up Table Mountain every week and trained every night.

On 8 May 1922 Jock Haswell informed the Club’s committee that it had obtained the use of the new ground – between Fort Wynard and the Somerset Hospital – at a rental of £1 per annum.  That year the groundsman’s wages were 25/- (25 shillings) per week and he received a bonus of £2.  The military authorities allowed the Club to connect up to their water main with meter and piping.  The City Council laid the piping and installed the meter for £13 7s 6d, an amount shared with Green Point CC.  The military also allowed them the use of a hut on the field, to which a shower was installed at a cost of £12.  Gun fittings had to be removed and the first estimate of doing the job was £10, then it was £4, and finally the SA Railways & Harbours did the job for £1 2s 6d to which Fred Burmeister added tips to the value of 17/6!  Hamiltons was happy, till it turned out that that amount had covered labour only and the SAR&H then charged an additional £5.

In 1923 Hamilton’s gained permanent use of The Track as its home ground.

Committee meetings in the 1920s were held at The Track, but the AGM was held in the Manchester Hotel.

Having acquired the ground next to the Track, Hamilton’s and Green Point CC moved the next year to take over the Track itself.  The combined delegation, led by Maj. GB Brand, went to see the City Council when the YMCA’s lease of the ground expired.  They were supported by the Amateur Sports Federation.  The two bodies, referred to as “the Amalgamated Club”, were offered a ten-year lease from 1 August 1924.  The two clubs formed a Board of Control.  They were close, sharing a ball that year.  In fact the Board of Control was financed partly by a series of dances held in the Sea Point town hall.  In April that year a “gang of convicts” was hired at 15/- a day for a week to work on the ground.  The leading light for Hamiltons in this matter was the chairman, WE Lawton.

After World War II the clubhouse needed renovating and lucky cards were sold at 6d each to raise funds.  Members spent time working to improve the clubhouse, so much so that the captain of the 2nd XV used working in the clubhouse as an excuse for poor attendance at practices.  Some members of the committee “expressed concern” when beer was served in the clubhouse.  They “hoped that this privilege would not be abused”.  Later Bo Wintle would suggest that the Club apply for a “malt licence” so that beer could be sold.  Graham McGregor had a friend in the Liquor Branch of the SA Police, from whom he would find out procedures. When the committee discussed the matter, it was decided that neither wine nor spirits would be served.  There was disagreement about serving beer, John Appleton leading the charge against its availability.  It was agreed to investigate a licence for the sale of beer.  Appleton was “strongly opposed”: to any such action.  The clubhouse was used for meetings in 1949, after the purchase of 12 tables and 48 chairs.

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