Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: Sports Honour Roll
The name “Mr Cricket” was carried in Shepparton for over 50 years by local paint shop proprietor Bert Lightfoot.
Bert was a well-known local personality who arrived in Shepparton as a very young boy with his family who emigrated from England.
It was a trip to Benalla as an 11 year old in 1920 to see the English cricket team play on their first tour after the First World War that captured his imagination.
In 1926 he joined the local cricket scene and performed well. As a 15 year old he represented Shepparton Association at country week as a leg spinner, which earned him his first pair of long trousers. That was the beginning of a lifetime of involvement in cricket as a player and administrator. Bert went on to play in 26 country week series as a Batsman/Leg spinner and captained the team six times. Off the cricket field he represented Shepparton at country week golf and was a great contributor to the Apex club. He was also chair of the Shepparton High School Council.
Bert was a foundation member of the Old Students Cricket Club in 1928 and played his last A grade match in the 1955/56 final, one of only 5 finals in his long career, including Old Students premierships in 1934/5, 1936/7 and 1940/41.
However Bert was to make a wonderful contribution to the game he loved as an administrator. During his playing days he took on the role of Secretary of the Shepparton Cricket Association for 11 years. In 1951 the then president retired and Bert stepped into the president’s position which he would hold for 38 years.
Bert operated a paint and wallpaper shop in Fryers Street which was always frequented by cricketers and cricket administrators. Bert retired from playing but relished the job of Association president and became highly involved across the state. He became president of the Goulburn Murray zone of the Victorian Country Cricket League, a body which Bert would become vice president of.
Bert used his influence with the top people in cricket and was able to attract both interstate and international teams to play in Shepparton. The most significant was in 1962 when Colin Cowdrey’s English team played a country eleven at Deakin Reserve in front of a new grandstand that Bert had arranged to have built for the game.
Bert’s success in business would make it possible for him to travel the world watching cricket when the Australian team toured. He visited great cricket arenas around the world and formed friendships with people such as great English cricketers, the Bedser twins Alec and Eric.
Bert’s service to the community and sport was recognised when he received an MBE in the 1976 Queens Birthday honours list. The City of Greater Shepparton now proudly inducts ‘MR Cricket’ - Bert Lightfoot as a Sports Hall of Fame roll of honour member.