Finding Cricket’s Amazing Grace Gooder


She had one among many largest affirm performances by a New Zealand cricketer, nonetheless her story was misplaced to historic earlier – till now. 

The fascinating story of discovering Grace Gooder begins at a Dave Dobbyn reside effectivity closing November.

Contained contained in the group is Trevor Auger, who’s merely achieved writing The Heat Picture voltaic on my Face, the historic earlier of ladies’s cricket in New Zealand.

He’s actually having gratifying with the opening act, Milly Tabak and the Miltones (“I’d in no way heard them ahead of, nonetheless Milly has a terrific stage presence; she merely exudes pleasure and it’s infectious,” Auger says).

Then Tabak introduces a tune she wrote, Hey Sister, impressed by her two good aunts, each nurses.

“One, Aunty Chubby, was a sequence smoker,” Auger remembers Tabak saying, “and the choice, Aunty Grace, opened the bowling for the New Zealand cricket crew all by means of the 1940s”.

Auger couldn’t take into accounts what he was listening to. The one Grace he knew from his in depth analysis was Grace Gooder, an Aucklander who had carried out only one affirm for New Zealand – in opposition to England at Eden Park in 1949.

Little had been acknowledged about Gooder when Auger was inserting the weighty 676-page tome collectively – aside from she’d made a long-lasting have an effect on on the sport.

In her sole look on the world cricket stage, Gooder took six wickets for 42 runs in 23.2 overs. It’s nonetheless all by means of the prime three bowling performances by a New Zealander in girls’s affirm matches.

And it’s a effectivity that moreover reverberates spherical the cricket world.

Creator Trevor Auger (left) appears by means of footage of Grace Gooder alongside collectively alongside alongside alongside collectively along with her household, Milly and Simon Tabak. : Suzanne McFadden.

In 2013, English cricket journalist and historian Raf Nicholson named Gooder one amongst her 5 worldwide pioneers of the ladies’s sport – alongside greats like the primary true all-rounder of the sport, England’s Molly Cowl, and the primary woman to understand a hat-trick in a affirm, Australian Betty Wilson.   

“Gooder would possibly wish to have carried out extra assessments, nonetheless she in no way bought that probability. I take into accounts her as symbolic of a complete experience of ladies for whom that was true,” Nicholson wrote.

It wasn’t tons Gooder’s cricketing background that spurred Auger to ship Tabak a message by means of Fb when he bought residence from the reside effectivity.

He was intrigued by Tabak describing how her good aunt, who was homosexual, had undergone conversion remedy in her 20s. And among the finest methods all through which by which by means of which the male inmates in Mt Eden Jail sang ‘Superb Grace’ as shortly as they heard Gooder had died, the day ahead of her 59th birthday.

Grace Gooder in her nursing years. : Grace Gooder assortment. 

Tabak replied with minutes. “Holy drum, I couldn’t give it some thought. I had no thought how distinguished she was,” she says. “I didn’t suppose in 1,000,000 years anybody at that reside effectivity would recognise Aunty Grace.”

Nonetheless Auger had. “And I needed to know extra,” he says. 


Grace Gooder was born in 1924, all by means of the Northland metropolis of Ruawai – most fascinating acknowledged for its kūmara fields and dairy farms.

She grew up on a farm with two sisters and went to Ruawai School. Nonetheless when their father misplaced the farm all by means of the Despair, they wished to change to Auckland and a mannequin new residence in Takapuna.  

Sport remained a relentless of their lives. Gooder’s father, Ron, was a rugby referee. “He was actually terribly environment good,” his grandson, Simon Tabak, remembers. “He would swim the dimensions of Takapuna Seashore, there and as shortly as extra, every single day.”

Grace settled into her new highschool, Takapuna Grammar, and was there concurrently Bert Sutcliffe, who was appropriately on the one strategy to turning into one amongst New Zealand most attention-grabbing male cricketers. Contained contained within the 1940 Auckland faculties cricket championship, the 16-year-old Sutcliffe led the varsity’s first XI to victory by smashing a median of 97 runs a sport.

“There’s a legend that there have been solely two of us on the faculty who might throw a cricket ball from the carpark, over the buildings and into the quadrangle,” Simon Tabak says. “One was Bert, the choice was Aunty Grace.

“She had a powerful wrist – she would skim stones all by the water at Takapuna Seashore for hours on finish. She had that flick of the wrist in her bowling and he or she was well-known for her throwing potential – each in cricket and all by means of the softball outfield.”

Gooder was starting to make her mark in cricket, hockey and softball, and would go on to play for Auckland in all three sports activities actions actions actions actions actions actions.

Portrait of a youthful Grace Gooder. : Grace Gooder assortment. 

She was one amongst six Takapuna Grammar schoolgirls who helped Dot Simons – a sports activities actions actions actions actions actions actions journalist and eager sportswoman – arrange each the North Shore cricket and hockey golf fashions. “Grace was the one employee each on and off the sector,” Simons wrote in Gooder’s obituary.

Nonetheless her sporting prowess practically acquired correct proper appropriate correct proper right here to an abrupt finish ahead of she’d even left college.

Tabak remembers the story of his aunt driving her bike residence one evening time time time time time time when she was hit by a drunk driver. A automotive door sort out ripped by means of the flesh on her as shortly as extra, and he or she wished 150 stitches.  

“They thought she was going to die from the blood loss,” he says. “And she or he had everlasting harm from that accident.

“It’d want had some affect on her cricket occupation; she was persistently on the physio’s desk. They thought she would possibly seemingly be in a wheelchair in her later life.

“She was sturdy although. Shortly, she went on a go to to Houhora and fell down some steps. She drove the entire one strategy residence to Auckland ahead of she realised her leg was damaged.

“You wouldn’t wish to get on the fallacious aspect of her. Nonetheless she was good.”


Gooder was 23 when she was first chosen to play for New Zealand, all by means of the 1948 affirm in opposition to Australia at Wellington’s Basin Reserve. It was solely the second worldwide New Zealand had ever carried out – the primary, as shortly as extra in 1935.

A medium-slow tempo off-spin bowler, Gooder had been making an have an effect on for Auckland for 5 seasons.

The NZ cricket crew to play Australia in 1948; Grace Gooder is second from proper all by means of the as shortly as extra row. : Grace Gooder assortment. 

“A tall woman, who discovered humorous circumstances to enliven parts when too many ‘geese’ occurred, she was furthermore an adventurer who swung a meaty bat with the logical outcomes – fours and the odd six, or a crash of falling timber behind her,” Dot Simons as shortly as wrote.

“Nonetheless it totally was as a bowler that the North Shore participant distinguished herself at each provincial and New Zealand stage.”

She was a part of the Auckland strike assault that carried out the Australians at Eden Park ahead of the 1948 affirm, and took the scalps of 4 of Australia’s coronary coronary coronary coronary coronary heart order batswomen – all clear bowled.

Gooder, who labored as a clerk on the North Shore Transport Firm, had acquired a telegram from the New Zealand Girls’s Cricket Council advising of her affirm quite a few, and a follow-up letter useful if she couldn’t uncover her non-public lodging in Wellington for the three-day affirm, they’d uncover a household to billet her.

Sadly, she was the ‘12th man’ in Wellington and didn’t take the sector in New Zealand’s disappointing loss to the Australians by an innings and 102 runs. Nonetheless there’s little doubt she would have discovered from merely being a part of the aspect.

In 1949, Gooder was chosen all by means of the New Zealand crew as shortly as extra, this time for the one affirm in opposition to the English touring aspect. She was requested to positioned on the New Zealand uniform she’d wished to purchase the yr ahead of.

The autographed programme and a ticket from the New Zealand-England affirm in 1949, from the Grace Gooder assortment. 

The affirm carried out on Eden Park started on a cloudy and moist Saturday morning in March, with England deciding on to bat first on a wicket that carried out gradual and low.

Gooder snared her maiden affirm wicket when opening bat Cecilia Robinson was caught behind by New Zealand’s new wicketkeeper, Esther Blackie. She then eradicated two extra of England’s prime batswomen – Mary Duggan and Grace Morgan – on her method to taking six English wickets.

Her bowling was described as “hostile and considerate” all by means of the New Zealand Herald; Dot Simons, writing all by means of the NZ Sportswoman journal, talked about Gooder bowled intelligently “as widespread” and quite a few her assault recurrently.

Gooder joined an elite membership – she’s one amongst merely 13 cricketers on the planet to seize a five-wicket bag on worldwide debut.

She claimed one totally completely utterly completely totally different two wickets in England’s second innings, nonetheless it totally wasn’t ample to assist New Zealand rating their first affirm victory – dropping to England by 185 runs.

Simon Tabak has a bail and one among many balls utilized in that affirm which Gooder would have been given to recollect her good effectivity.

Sadly, New Zealand didn’t play one totally completely utterly completely totally different worldwide fixture till 1954, as shortly as they toured England. By then, 30-year-old Gooder was already in England, pursuing her subsequent love – nursing.


Gooder would possibly wish to have been any particular one who devoted herself totally to regardless of she was doing. She gained awards for her nursing evaluation – first in psychiatric nursing on the Netherne Hospital in Surrey, after which continuously nursing.

“She was requested to see if she might try your complete nursing expertise in a single yr – they wished to know whether or not or not or not or not it is further extra liable to be achieved. And she or he did it,” Simon Tabak says.

Grace Gooder receiving her gold medal for nursing at St James Hospital in London. : Grace Gooder assortment.

Gooder returned residence to nurse at Oakley Hospital – in a single utterly completely totally different case usually normally known as the Auckland Lunatic Asylum – till 1974. She then labored at Mt Eden Jail, the place she turned a really revered head nurse.

She died out of the blue the day ahead of her 59th birthday – and a yr ahead of she was to retire.

The prisoners at Mt Eden, it appears, have been furthermore devastated by her loss. They sang Superb Grace for her, and positioned a scarcity of life uncover all by means of the Herald.

“For tons of of males in days of strife, ‘twas Grace who helped give goal to our life. Admired, revered and an costly buddy to all of the boys of Mt Eden. Farewell buddy,” it try. 

Her household take into accounts Gooder had a boyfriend who was killed in World Battle 2 – a Flight Sergeant from Northland whose airplane crashed in England coming back from a mission. Contained contained within the early 1960s, she met her accomplice, Margaret.

Milly Tabak was “heartbroken” when she discovered her good aunt had undergone conversion remedy whereas she was in her 20s – and that it is nonetheless accepted acceptable correct proper appropriate correct proper right here. “Clearly it doesn’t work on account of she ended up residing with Aunty Margaret,” she says.

(Each Labour and the Greens pledged to ban conversion remedy, the pseudoscientific apply of attempting to vary or suppress any particular explicit explicit particular person’s sexual orientation or gender identification, of their election insurance coverage protection safety security safety security insurance coverage protection safety security safety insurance coverage protection safety security insurance coverage protection safety insurance coverage protection insurance coverage insurance policies closing yr. Thus far there’s been no timeframe set for a draft accredited suggestions on the ban.)

Grace Gooder in her 50s. : Grace Gooder assortment. 

So as shortly as extra to the Dave Dobbyn reside effectivity, and Trevor Auger. He was captivated by the one strategy Tabak spoke with such delight about her Aunty Grace: “It actually meant one matter to her”.

Auger drove out to Whenuapai, in Auckland’s north-west nook, to go to Tabak, her accomplice John, mum Christine and uncle Simon. They poured over the tons of of pictures, newspaper clippings, match programmes, tickets and nursing diplomas Simon had saved in his aunt’s reminiscence.

For Milly, it added “the lacking piece of the puzzle” about her household. She is aware of how tons her dad, John – Gooder’s nephew who died in 2012 – adored his Aunty Grace: “He would have cherished all of this,” she says.

“And after writing ‘Hey Sister’, it gave me extra of an image of the girl I used to be singing about.”

It was too late to weave the private trivia of Gooder’s distinctive life into the primary mannequin of The Heat Picture voltaic on My Face, nonetheless Auger discovered one totally completely utterly completely totally different particular method to honour her.

On the data’s launch at Eden Park closing month, Milly Tabak sang an emotional solo rendition of ‘Hey Sister’ (watch all by means of the Instagram submit beneath). 

“I sat all by means of the grandstand beforehand and appeared out on the sector the place Aunty Grace carried out. It blew me away,” she says.

“Then with the flexibleness to play on the data launch – I needed to cry all evening time time time time time time. I’m monumental on equality for ladies and this was a part of my very non-public non-public progress. To sing to a room of ladies who had been trailblazers all by means of the game, a great deal of of them homosexual, that was actually particular to me.”

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