Following the formation of the Club, two teams were entered in the competitions of the Hunter River District Cricket Association for the start of the 1903-04 season – an A team in the Senior competition (First Grade) and a B team in the Junior Badge competition (Reserve or Second Grade). Other teams in the senior competition included Southern Division, Western Division, East Maitland, Morpeth, Hinton, Lochinvar and Paterson.
It was appropriate that Northern Division’s first official competition match in the senior grade was against East Maitland – a Club which was to become an arch-rival over the following years. This was a two day fixture played at the Albion ground on October 10 and 17, 1903.
Northern scored 186 and then dismissed East Maitland for 91 to gain a win by 95 runs on the first innings. Left is the report of the first day’s play from the Maitland Mercury.
In the above match on Saturday, the Northern Players made 186, owing principally to the batting of J. Kerrigan (91), and E. Bowden (46). The former gave a chance when he was 31, but nevertheless, played a good innings. Bowden also shaped well, showing good defence. Baker who bowled best for East Maitland, taking 6 wickets, and his average would have been much better if Duff had not missed Kerrigan.
East Maitland opened their innings and when stumps were drawn had lost 2 wickets for 15 runs. Schraeder was caught by R. Lindsay off the bowling of B. Ross, and McCracken was clean bowled by Ross.
Looking at the score-sheet for the match, one finds that the Northern batting line-up included a number of players from the former Albion Club which disbanded shortly after the introduction of District cricket. These included Robert Lindsay, John Kerrigan, Harold Johnston, William Lindsay, Alf Lindsay, Felton Norrie and Elias Bowden. No doubt these players would have brought across to their new Club some of the traditions and character associated with the Albion Club, particularly when Northern Division’s “home matches” until after World War 1 were played on the old Albion ground.
The Albion Club (founded in 1866) was a well known club in the early history of Maitland cricket. Its high quality ground and turf wicket, situated on the present site of Maitland Showground, were widely regarded as being unsurpassed in the colony outside of Sydney and had been the venue for matches against a number of visiting International Teams. The club was run along the lines of an English county club and members enjoyed facilities such as practice ground staff bowlers and private lockers that would be the envy of many club cricketers today.In its first season the Northern Division A grade team, under the captaincy of William Lindsay, recorded four wins, two losses and two draws to finish third to both Western Division and Lochinvar that tied for the premiership. The B grade team finished fourth in its competition.
The first century maker for the Club was Felton Norrie who scored 104 in a match against Paterson on the Albion ground. Seven members of the Club also represented the Association in district matches.
During the first season Club membership totalled 35, of whom 27 were players. John Rourke, the President, was interstate for most of the season and in his absence the role of acting President was taken on by the Vice-President, Elias Bowden. At the first Annual Meeting in August 1904 Bowden congratulated the member on the harmonious manner in which the Club members had worked together in fulfilling their engagements in a sportsmanlike way, extending the hand of friendship with whom concerned, whether winning or losing.