An incredible century: the central west celebrates the Grinsted Cup

The big scores and the contentious calls will be in the spotlight this weekend as Forbes hosts centenary celebrations of the Grinsted Cup.

The Grinsted Challenge is understood to be the longest continuously running Cup, certainly in regional NSW, so there's no shortage of yarns to be told.

Parkes' Michael Greenwood OAM captured the early years of the competition in 1985.

The Cup was donated by Mr Edward John (Ted) Grinsted as a means of generating increased interest in cricket in the area.

"The time was opportune for the introduction of more competitive cricket as western communities geared themselves for a return to everyday life in the aftermath of the Great War," Mr Greenwood's introduction explains.

"Little did he appreciate the ramifications of his gesture and the role it was to play in moulding cricket in the central west in the next 66 years.

"In developing State and Australian test cricketers and in providing thousands of hours of intense competition, entertainment, vitality and town fervour as cup fortunes ebbed and flowed."

The challenge was open to teams within 50 miles, with games to begin at 10am and - provided the opposition had a winning chance - to continue to 6.30pm.

The first game was held between Forbes and Half-Holiday, and was comprehensively won by Forbes.

Forbes retained the cup against several challenges in 1919-1920 but then competition began to heat up and the community's passion for it began to grow.

An indication of the intensity of feeling is captured in the report of Forbes' win against Grenfell in 1920/21.

"When the local cricketers returned victorious from Grenfell on Sunday night with the Grinsted Cup in their possession, they were given a reception the like of which Forbes has probably never before witnessed in a sporting connection," the Advocate reported.

"At the lagoon bridge they were met by an excited crowd of several hundreds of people.

"Members of both bands got together ... a procession was formed, headed by the bands and followed by the cricketers' cars, behind which several private cars and vehicles joined in.

"Hundreds walked beside the procession and cheered along the way.

"Someone on a grey horse appointed himself a marshal, and another carried the Australian flag at a standard."

By the time the crowd reached the monument, it "must have numbered 1000".

"Mr Giovanelli, the Forbes captain, had to respond to insistent calls for a speech.

"He said the team was divided between pleasure and astonishment at the wonderful reception they had received."

In the coming years, challenges would be made by Parkes, Cowra, Young, Orange, Condobolin and West Wyalong as well as many of the smaller communities in the region.

These included Quandialla, Caragabal, Wirrinya, Gooloogong, Eugowra, Lyndhurst, Bogan Gate, Trundle and Peak Hill.

Bedgerabong fielded a strong team, predominantly Hodges, who had their successes.

Over the decades, different towns have risen to prominence and dominated the competition.

Cowra holds the record for defending the highest number of challenges: 23 in the late 1990s into the 2000s.

Parkes is just one behind on 22, beaten by Orange on their 23rd challenge.

Forbes held the Cup for 14 challenges in the 1980s, and Condobolin 16 challenges in the early 1980s.

There were also some individual performances of real note.

Grenfell's Stan McCabe, known for batting alongside Sir Donald Bradman, was one of four brothers to grow up in the Grinsted Cup, keeping the Grenfell Juniors dominant through the late 1920s and 1930s.

Parkes' Cec Pepper was another to go from Challenge Cup cricket to the international stage. Pepper played Sheffield Shield cricket in the 1930s before going to England where he played with the Australian Services side and became a popular feature in English County Cricket.

Former Test batsman Jack Moroney graced the Grinsted Cup; a 16-year-old Peter Toohey (later to represent Australia) made his cup debut for Orange at Peak Hill; long-serving NSW all-rounder Stuart Webster played for Orange; as did fast bowler Steve Bernard.

"There were countless other country representatives whose nursery was the Grinsted Cup competition," Greenwood wrote.

"Ironically some cup players were to represent NSW and Australian in other sporting spheres."

There are many memories to be shared and we look forward to hearing many more tales of Grinsted Cup glory this weekend, before enjoying the action of an exhibition match on Sunday.