Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

County Player Was First Aussie To Play In Football League

Travis Head will become the latest distinguished Australian cricketer to play County Championship cricket for Worcestershire after signing as their main overseas player for the 2018 season.

But it is worth recalling the first Australian to ever represent the County in Championship cricket more than a century ago – and he has an interesting tale to tell.

John Alexander Cuffe not only played more than 200 times for Worcestershire between 1903 and 1914 but also became the FIRST Australian to play in the Football League.

He played 10 seasons as a full-back for Glossop North End in Division Two of the Football League – one of the many cricketer-footballers to represent Worcestershire – and helped them reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1908-09.

In addition Cuffe also became an umpire after the First World War but sadly died at the age of 50 in Burton On Trent.

Cuffe was a slow left arm spinner and more than useful batsman who was born in Coonamble, New South Wales in 1880.

He made one appearance for New South Wales but the remainder of his first class career was with Worcestershire for whom he was a regular member of the side from 1905-1914 after spending two years qualifying.

Cuffe did the ‘double’ of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in 1911.

He hit his highest score of 145 against Hampshire in 1905 and had career best bowling figures of 9-38 against Yorkshire at Bradford two years later.

In 1910 he achieved a hat-trick against Hampshire at Bournemouth.

Cuffee ended his career with 738 first class wickets at an impressive average of 25.45 and 7,476 first class runs

In his parallel football career, Cuffe made 282 appearances for Glossop.

After the First World War he played cricket in the Lancashire League for Todmorden and Lowerhouse Cuffe and stood as an umpire from 1925-27 before taking up a coaching role at Repton School.