GOSLING, JOHN WILLIAM (JACK)
(May 11, 1920 — August 23, 1994)
Major Royal Fiji Military Forces
By Henry Gosling.
Jack Gosling was born in Suva, Fiji, the fourth child of Capt. Harry Gosling and Francis Jane Maud Williams. He attended Suva Boys Grammar school and commenced playing in the Suva Cricket Association games at the age of 14. At school the cricketers were self taught as the sports master was a good tennis player only. Occasionally Clarrie Robinson used to go down to the school some afternoons to teach batting and wicket keeping. Never being a batsman, in fact Jack used to bat cross armed, he used to bowl to Clarrie.
So keen were Pat Raddock, Colin Grabbe and Jack about cricket they used to go to Albert Park to put up the practice nets and mats for the older players, namely, Edy Simm, Colonel Gamble, Jack Remmie, Clarrie Robinson, Harry Edmunds, Frank Foster, Tui Johnson, Skipper Lelu and many others. The only remuneration the kids received was a chance to bat against good bowlers and earn a few bob as some of the older stalwarts used to place a ‘bob’ piece (one shilling or ten cents) on the stumps and if they were bowled they collected the money! The three boys used to go down to Albert Park every Saturday hoping that some member of the Suva Grammar Old Boys team would not turn up. Pat being the best batsman and a good substitute wicket keeper for Clarrie soon found himself as a regular player. Colin and Jack soon got their chance to play. They played regular Saturday cricket until the War came along, when they all joined up. Unfortunately, Colin was killed overseas with the R.A.F.
At the outbreak of World War II, Jack enlisted with the Royal Fiji Military Forces. He was Commanding Officer C Company First Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment during the Second World War in Bougainville from 1943 when the Allied Forces launched the Bougainville Campaign to regain control of the island from the Japanese, who had invaded the island in 1942. He became the youngest person to attain the rank of Major in the RFMF in 1945. During that tour Pat Raddock and Jack played Inter Company and Inter Battalion cricket games against Ratu Sir George Cakabou and Ratu Sir Edward Cakabou.
During the war, Jack married Jean (Paddy) Liston Tarr on October 17, 1942. They had six children: Patricia Liston Maud, Jennifer Eileen, Henry John, Michael, Maud Jeanine, and John (Jack) Leonard.
After the war and Jack was demobbed, he joined the Fiji Prison Service as a Warden at H.M. Gaol, Suvavou with his lifelong friends Wally Morgan and George Towson. He then went to work in shipping for Carpenters before spending more than 25 years as Shipping Manager for Burns Philp (SS) Co. Ltd. In 1883 Burns Philp and Company Limited was formed by amalgamating the various businesses in Sydney and Queensland carried on in the names of James Burns and of Robert Philp and Company. Jack played a part in designing the Suva waterfront and was regularly at Suva Wharf during the day attending to birthing and stevedoring arrangements for the “Home Boat”, which arrived every month from England, ships that sailed under the “Thor” line that brought timber and produce from North America, Japanese vessels bringing white and brown consumer goods to Fiji for the growing tourism trade, Russian exploration ships, and fishing boats from Japan, Taiwan and Korea that used Suva as a port to replenish supplies of water and fresh food and vegetables.
During his teenage years and after the War Jack was a proficient sailor as well as an enthusiastic cricketer. He skippered his own 14ft boat, “Rawene”, and shared his love of sailing and mingling at Nukulau with other ardent yachtsmen at the Royal Suva Yacht Club for many years, including; Boris Maesepp, Bob Percy, Don Molloy, Ken Williams, Bill Gardiner, the Kerkham and Hawksley brothers, Jack St. Julian and Oscar Bentley to name a few. During these years Jack was also very active in Fiji Rugby as a referee and was known to be a strict disciplinarian with the rules of the game. He was an administrator and treasurer of the Fiji Rugby Union for a number of years. But it was to his love for cricket that he returned.
On his return to Fiji after the War, Jack played for the 1st Battalion and on being demobbed joined the Imperial cricket team. At that time the Apted brothers were making their presence felt in Suva cricket and to encourage younger players they renamed their team as the Imperial Colts, under the guidance of Bill Apted Snr.
Jack excelled as a medium pace right hand bowler who was able to turn the ball both ways. He also acted as an administrator of the game and was the manager of the Fiji Cricket XI that toured New Zealand in 1948 and New South Wales in 1960. It was only with the help of the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and his wife that they managed to raise the money to pay their expenses for the New Zealand trip. Pat and Jack were both picked to play. Ilikena Bula, who had not performed well in the trials, was a last minute inclusion at the insistence of Ratu Sir Lala who offered to pay any additional expenses. This was the making of the Great Bula scoring 1,000 runs on tour. Another old friend, Maurice Fenn, who had joined Imperial Colts when his former team CYMS disbanded, took 100 wickets on the same tour.
The second tour of New Zealand came in 1952. Although selected, Jack was unable to go due to work commitments. Pat and Maurice both made the tour. The results of these two New Zealand tours are outlined in Phil Snow’s book, “Cricket In Fiji”. 1960 was the tour of New South Wales. Pat was not selected, being replaced by Sid Snowsill. Maurice and Jack made the team. It was only the generosity of Mr Les Martin, who guaranteed to underwrite the tour financially, that the tour was possible. Jack believed that Les Martin was the forgotten man of sport in Fiji. Not only did he finance this tour but at the same time spent 5000 Pounds for the erection of the old Buckhurst Park Pavilion for the Fiji Rugby Union.
BACK ROW: Petero Kubu, Harry Apted, Inoke Tabualevu, Ayoub Dean, Bill Apted
MIDDLE ROW: Freddie Valentine, Ilikena Bula, Asaeli Drui, I. Logavatu, O. Tuidraki, P. Sigeva
FRONT ROW: J. Barter (Liasion Officer), S. Snowsill (V. Capt.), Nat Uluiviti (Capt.) Jack Gosling (Manager), Maurice Fenn.
When he started playing there were only 4 teams: Defence Club, Grammar Old Boys CYMS and Imperial Colts. The old pavilion was on the corner of Cakabou Road and there were only two playing fields on Albert Park. The fields were originally sub-divided by weeping willow trees which were cut down in 1928 to allow the Southern Cross to land, piloted by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
The advent of the 2nd Word War changed the pattern of the game. The old teams ceased to exist, but competition improved with indigenous Fijians (iTaukei) playing for the first time in competitions between the 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions FIR, New Zealand Brigade Ground Force Units and Police. Another change for the better was when Indians entered teams. There was the Indian Reform Leaque, Samabula, Police, Wanderers, Cadets, Imperials, Lau and Colts. This required the Council to prepare 4 wickets at Albert Park plus playing at Nasova. Then No. 5 pitch was made and later a sixth wicket was prepared in the middle of Albert park between No. 6 and 4 and 5 pitches, which became dangerous as with the big hitting iTaukeis one was always looking over your shoulder in case a ball landed on your head!
Sir Robert Crompton donated a cup in 1950 for Interdistrict Competition which proved an enormous success. Teams from all over Fiji, including Lau and Levuka, came to Suva over Easter for four days of cricket and no doubt improved the standard of cricket in Fiji. In 1960 the competition began to interest New Zealand team, which came on a cricket holiday.
A highlight of Jack’s cricketing career came when the West Indies broke their journey on their 1955/56 tour en route New Zealand in Fiji to play a 1-day single innings match at Albert Park. The squad was a formidable one, but the management decided to rest some of the stars. Even then, the XI included the likes of Garry Sobers, Denis Atkinson, John Goddard, Frank King, Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine, Collie Smith, and Clairmonte Depeiaza.
Fiji won the toss and decided to bat. The Apted brothers (Harry and Bill) opened for Fiji, but Atkinson soon accounted for the latter. The hosts also lost H. Swann (caught Ramadhin bowled Valentine, no less) as Bula walked out to join Harry Apted. The partnership turned out to be crucial: Apted scored 33 and Bula 27 before Fiji were bowled out for a paltry 91.
Then the miracle happened. Asaeli Driu (four for 26) and Jack Gosling (six for 25) bowled unchanged, skittling out the illustrious tourists for 63 — three more than what Harry Apted and Bula had scored between them. West Indies crashed to a humiliating 28-run defeat.
Jack was treasurer of the Fiji Cricket Association and a past Chairman of the Suva Cricket Association. He represented the Suva Cricket Association on a national level for 15 years.
Jack decided reluctantly to hang up his boots (he always wore sand shoes) in 1964 due to work commitments. Over 30 years of continuous cricket, which he thoroughly enjoyed, he reminisced on what he hoped would be of interest to the younger generation:
Best Wicket Keepers: Clarry Robinson, Pat Raddock, Syd Snowsill, Petero Kubu
Best Batsman: Harry Apted
Best Allrounder: Harry Apted. Not only an excellent batsman, but a good change bowler and an excellent fieldsman.
Best Openers: Harry and Bill Apted
Best Bowler: Harry Moorehouse
Lowest score in Secondary School Cricket: Suva Grammar against St. Felix College in 1928. St. Felix was dismissed for 2 runs – 1 wide and 1 no ball. Bowlers Arthur Groome and Harold Sturt – 2 overs only. Jack met Harold Sturt years later on the Gold Coast and they enjoyed talking about the old days of cricket and the time he beat Tony Moore and Jim Boyer in the 100 yard sprint.
Best Fijian (iTaukei) Players Jack met: Ilikena Bula, Kaminiela Aria and Viliame Mataika. Fiji Times Online reported on December 29, 2013 that Bula was Fiji’s Cricket Hero who without doubt has the longest surname for any First Class Cricketer: Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamaineiilikenamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau. The article also mentions Asaeli Driu (four for 26) and Jack Gosling (six for 25) who bowled unchanged for the match against the West Indies at Albert Park 1955/56.
Best Indo-Fijian Player: Ayub Dean of Lautoka
Best catches: 1st – Inoke Tabualevu dismissing Allan Davidson, Sydney Cricket Ground 1960. Acclaimed by the great Bill Oriely as the best catch he had ever seen. 2nd – Harry Apted dismissing Atkinson of West Indies at Albert Park, 1956.
Most Amusing Player: Gussy Solomon who when fielding in the outfield would do a somersault before the ball came down and catch it.
Jack’s Best Achievement in Cricket: Taking all 10 wickets in a Crompton Shiled match against Raki Raki at Suva.
Jack retired to live on the Gold Coast, Queensland in 1973. Soon after arriving in Australia he established a small “teitei” in which he grew dalo, the tropical taro plant favoured by Fijians. Jack loved to socialise with people, enjoyed a scotch or two and would dance and sing way into the night. Bula Maleya was one of his favourite songs along with “She’s The Sweetest Girl In Toorak”! He became a great ‘curry and roti’ cook for all the family and friends and used to enjoy eating kai soup, pigs trotters and ox heart – dishes he learned to prepare from his mother long ago in Fiji. Jack died at home on August 23, 1994. He was 74.
Entry By: Henry Gosling, Yandina, Sunshine Coast, Australia.